Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): Like other forms of property, intellectual property is also an asset which can be bought, sold, exchanged or gratuitously given away. Owners of intellectual property also have the right to prevent the unauthorized use or sale of their property.

According to The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) <>, “Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce”.

Intellectual property is divided into two categories: Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programmes.

According to The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) <> “Copyright and related rights protect the rights of authors, performers, producers and broadcasters, and contribute to the cultural and economic development of nations. This protection fulfils a decisive role in articulating the contributions and rights of different stakeholders and the relation between them and the public. The purpose of copyright and the related rights is twofold: to encourage a dynamic creative culture, while returning value to creators so that they can lead a dignified economic existence, and to provide widespread, affordable access to content for the public.”

Copyright is basically the individual right of an author to dispose of his / her work in return for remuneration. According to Christopher Scarles, “subject to certain exception, it is ownership of and right of control over all possible ways of reproducing a work”.

1. International Context

a) Berne Convention: The international convention for protection of literary and artistic works was first signed at Berne on 9th September, 1886, which later on came to be known as “Berne Convention”. It guaranteed protection for the life of the author plus fifty years after his death. The convention was revised and amended more than seven times.

Berne remained essentially European. It could not attract the U. S. A. So, most civilized states except the U. S. became signatories to it.

b) Universal Copyright Convention (UCC): In the early 1950s UNESCO set about devising a union that would combine Berne and Montivideo convention and the outcome was the establishment of Universal Copyright conventions in 1952. U. S. joined it in 1955.

Paris Revision of 1971: In 1971 both Berne and UCC was revised. This is what goes by the name of Paris revision of 1971. This has made some realistic concession to the developing countries with regard to reproduction and translation of material having great educational value.

c) World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system, which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest. WIPO was established by the WIPO Convention in 1967 with a mandate from its Member States (Till 2009 there were 184 Member States, i.e. over 90 percent of the countries of the world) to promote the protection of IP throughout the world through cooperation among states and in collaboration with other international organizations. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.

2. Indian Context: The earliest statutory law in India concerning copyright was the Indian copyright of 1847 which was passed by the Governor General of India. In 1911 the law of copyright was codified in England and was made applicable to all Majesty’s dominions including India. The Governor General of India enacted the Indian Copyright act of 1914 to make some modification to the provision of the 1911 Act. The copyright of 1914, granted copyright to an author for the whole of his life and fifty years after his death.

            The provision of the copyright act of 1914 were again modified after independence and the copyright act which is in force even today was passed in the Indian Parliament in 1957 and known as Copyright Act, 1957. The copyright act of India of 1957 had been amended in August 1983 with the specific purpose of incorporating the provisions of the Paris text of 1971 of the Berne convention concerning the grant of compulsory licenses for translations and reproduction of foreign work for educational purposes. The copyright was further amended in 1984 in order to overcome the problem of wide spread piracy in India. The act was further modified in 1992 and 1994 (No. 38 of 1994). The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1999 officially published in: The Gazette of India, 30/12/1999, No. 49. In accordance with the copyright act of 1957, a copyright office and a copyright board were set up in New Delhi under the auspices of the Government of India of which the copyright board serves as a civil court with the power of adjudicating disputes arising out of claims and counter claims. The copyright board serves as a civil court and its judgment can be challenged only in the high court of the area and in no other lower court.

The legislation covering intellectual property right in India are

i) Communication: Communication Bill, 2000;

ii) Copyright: The Copyright Act of 1957 (last amended in 1994);

iii) Designs: The Design Act 1911;

iv) Information Technology: Information Technology Act 2000;

v) Patent: The Patent Act 1970 (changes bought in 1994);

vi) Trade Mark: The Trade Merchandise Mark Act 1958, etc.

            India signed the Berne convention in 1886 when it was part of the British Empire. India also signed the Universal Copyright convention in 1952 of its own choice as a free country.

3. Intellectual Freedom: According to American Library Association, every individual has the right to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive, and disseminate ideas.

According to Canadian Library Association, the fundamental right is to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly.