Registration of Copyright in a Photograph

Is it necessary to register copyright in a photograph to claim copyright?

No. You acquire copyright in a photograph automatically, without any legal formality. Copyright comes into existence as soon as you click a photograph. The photograph need not be a final edited image to claim your copyright in it. However, certificate of registration of copyright in a photograph and the entries made therein serve as good evidence before a court of law, in case of any dispute relating to ownership of copyright. It provides all the details pertaining to the photograph.

What photograph can be registered by Copyright Office of India?

As quality is immaterial to qualify the work as an ‘artistic work’, a bad photograph may also be protected under copyright laws. However, the photograph must be an ‘original’ work where certain degree of skill and effort must have been put on it.

Can unpublished works be registered?

Yes. Both published and unpublished works can be registered.

What is the process for registering your copyright in a photograph?

The process for registration of Copyright in the photograph is fairly simple. The author/owner details along with copies of the work and date of publication are required to be provided. A client would also have to sign a Power of Attorney in favour of the Attorney. At this stage a filing number is issued.  The photograph is generally sought for in JPEG format. After the online filing, the provided documents are to be couriered to the Copyright Office at Plot no. 32, Boudhik Sampada Bhawan, Sector 14, Dwarka, New Delhi- 110075.

How can you register your copyright in a photograph online?

On-line registration of copyright through “E-filing facility “ has been provided from 14th February 2014, which facilitates the applicants to file applications at the time and place chosen by them. You create a User ID and password on the website www.copyright.gov.in. Thereafter, you give details of the author/owner and the details of the work. Further, details of communication address for postal purposes are also required. The website also requires the signatures of the Applicant. After filling a few forms such as Form XIV, the payment gateway gets open. One can do an online payment. At the end the work is uploaded. All of this is saved by the system. Thereafter, filled in forms with original signature of the Applicant is to be couriered to Dwarka Office. Please note that separate applications should be made for registration of each work.

How much does it cost to register copyright in a photograph and cinematograph?

The application fee for registration of copyright in a photograph is INR 500/- per piece of work. However, in respect of a photograph which is used or is capable of being used in relation to any goods or services (under Section 45) the application fee is INR 2000/- per piece of work. (In such a case, an applicant would also have to apply first to the Trade Marks office [separate feed to be paid to trade mark office to obtain a Certificate that no application for any mark identical or similar to the photograph provided is registered of applied before the Trade Marks Office]. For registration of copyright in Cinematograph Film (under Section 45), the fee is INR 5000/- per work.

The fee can be paid either in the form of Demand Draft, Indian Postal Order favoring “Registrar Of Copyright Payable At New Delhi” or through E payment. Please note that the fee is not reimbursable in case of rejection of the application.

Can I file an application for registration of copyright in a photograph myself, directly?

Yes. Any individual who is an author or rights owner or assignee or legal heir can file application for copyright of a work either at the copyright office or by post or by e-filing facility from the copyright Office web-site “www.copyright.gov.in”.

Is copyright registration in India valid for other countries as well?

Yes, Copyright registration is valid for other countries as well. However, it is not valid or protectable in countries who are not covered in the Part I, II, III, IV or VI of the Schedule to the International Copyright Order, 1999. Simply put, Copyright is protectable in multiple countries and they can be checked from a perusal of the International Copyright Order.

Authors: Vivek Verma & Ankit Rastogi

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Published by Vivek Kumar Verma

Investment Banking Lawyer | Photographer & Blogger | Connoisseur of Food | Poet

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