Artistic Work Copyright in India – Meaning, Eligibility, Process & Documents

  • Setindiabiz Team
  • April 22, 2023
What is Copyright and why is it required?
This blog explores how to copyright artwork in India in India, delving deeper into the process, benefits, and validity of such registration. Artistic Work Copyright stands as a fundamental pillar of protection of an artists’ intellectual property rights, safeguarding their original creations from unauthorized use and infringement. In the vibrant world of artistic expression, copyright registration holds paramount importance for artists in India. It empowers them with legal recognition and exclusive rights to their creative works, enabling them to flourish in their craft while defending their intellectual property.

What is Copyright Registration?

Copyright Registration is a legal process by which copyrights like original works of art, music and literature receive intellectual property protection, and the owner or creator of such work receive exclusive rights over its use, distribution and reproduction. The primary objective of Copyright Registration is to prevent an original work from being misused or plagiarized by third parties, thereby encouraging creativity among artists, authors, and musicians, to reward their efforts appropriately. Moreover, Copyright Registration also serves as legal evidence of the work’s existence and can be used in cases of infringement and disputes in a court of law.

Is Copyright Registration Mandatory?

Copyright Protection is granted to an original work as soon as it is created. So, registering it as a Copyright isn’t necessary. However, registration offers several benefits which are difficult to ignore. For instance, copyright registration provides a stronger legal foundation to protect against unauthorized use or reproduction of the work, as it serves as prima facie evidence in court.
Moreover, when a work is registered as Copyright, it is recorded in the Copyright Office’s public database, putting others on notice that the work is protected. Copyright registration grants the copyright owner the right to sue for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in case of infringement, which is not available for unregistered works. Additionally, copyrights registered in the country of origin becomes a basis for seeking International Copyright Protection under various international treaties and conventions.

Matters Which are Copyrightable

A diverse range of creative works is eligible for copyright registration under the Indian Copyright Act. The Act recognizes the significance of safeguarding the rights of artists and creators across all domains, fostering an environment that encourages innovation and artistic expression to its full potential. Given below is a complete list of all the types of works that can be copyrighted in India.
  1. Artistic Works: Artistic works encompass a wide variety of visual expressions, such as paintings, drawings, sketches, sculptures, and photographs. Whether it’s a stunning canvas or a captivating sculpture, artists can secure their creations with copyright protection.
  2. Literary Works: Literary works cover a vast array of writings, including novels, poems, essays, articles, and computer programs. Authors and writers can preserve their literary contributions and prevent unauthorized reproduction.
  3. Musical Works: Musical compositions, including songs and instrumental pieces, are eligible for copyright protection. Composers and musicians can ensure their melodies and harmonies remain exclusively theirs.
  4. Dramatic Works: This category includes plays, screenplays, scripts, and choreographic works. Playwrights and choreographers can copyright their dramatic creations to retain control over their performances.
  5. Cinematographic Films: Films, documentaries, and videos are considered cinematographic works. Directors and producers can protect their visual storytelling through copyright registration.
  6. Sound Recordings: Sound recordings, distinct from musical works, refer to the fixation of sound onto a medium, like CDs or digital audio files. Record producers and sound engineers can safeguard their recordings with copyright.
  7. Broadcasts: Broadcasters enjoy copyright protection for their radio and television broadcasts, ensuring exclusive rights over the transmission of their content.
  8. Published Editions: Publishers of literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic works can copyright the typographical arrangement of their publications.

How to Copyright Artwork in India?

Artistic Work Copyright Registration in India is a crucial step in safeguarding the creative efforts of artists and providing them with legal protection. Artwork refers to a wide range of visual expressions, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and other visual creations. To obtain copyright registration for their artwork, artists need to submit an application to the Indian Copyright Office, under the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (Ministry of Commerce & Industry).
The application should include the completed copyright registration form, a copy of the artistic work, and the requisite fee. Filing the Copyright Application can be a legally intricate process, so seeking professional assistance is always recommended. In the further sections, we have explained the complete process of how to copyright artwork in India. You can easily navigate through the process, and avail our assistance to register your copyright successfully!

Definition of Artwork under the Copyright Act

Artwork, in the context of Copyright Registration in India, refers to any original creation of an author or owner fixed in a tangible form, regardless of its inherent artistic quality. The Copyright Act, under Section 2(c), provides a comprehensive definition of these artistic works. Here is a comprehensive list for your comprehensive understanding.

Artworks for Copyright Registration

  • Paintings, Sculptures, Drawings, and Photographs: This category encompasses a wide range of visual expressions, such as paintings, sculptures, drawings (including diagrams, maps, charts, or plans), and photographs. It includes both high-art masterpieces and everyday snapshots.
  • Work of Architecture: It includes any building or structure with artistic character or design, or even a model for such structures. However, it is essential to note that for copyright to subsist in a work of architecture, it must be located in India (as per Section 13(2)(iii)).
  • Engravings: This category comprises etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, prints, and similar works. Engravings are distinct from photographs and receive copyright protection under Section 2(i).
  • Work of Sculpture: Work of sculpture includes not only the sculptures themselves but also casts and molds used in their creation (as provided under Section 2(za)).
  • Work Capable of Being Used in Relation to Goods or Services: This covers any work that can be represented graphically and is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of another. Examples include brand symbols, labels, logos, packaging, and cartoons.
  • Work Capable of being Registered as Design: A Copyright application cannot be filed for any design if it is already registered under the Design Act of 2000. However, if the design has not yet been registered under the Design Act, but is still eligible for such registration, its copyright application can be filed provided the design has not been reproduced more the 50 times by an industrial process by the owner of the copyright or under a license granted by him.
It is essential to understand that copyright subsists in these artistic works from the moment of their creation, irrespective of their artistic quality. Registering these works with the Copyright Office provides additional legal protection and concrete evidence of ownership, enabling artists to enforce their rights effectively in case of any unauthorized use or reproduction.

Artistic Work Copyright Registration Process

Artistic Work Copyright Registration is a legally intricate process which is completed in a series of stages. The filing of a copyright application is obviously the first stage in which the applicant must ensure that all the formalities of details and documents have been met correctly. Once the filing is complete, the Copyright Office moves ahead with the examination and inspection of the copyright application to grant the copyright registration at the end. The latest amendments to the Copyright Rules makes it mandatory for the Copyright Office to dispose of the application, either by accepting or rejecting it within 180 days from the date of filing.

Application Form

Applicants can choose either the offline or online method to file their copyright application. The offline method requires submitting the application for copyright registration manually in Form XIV of the Copyright Rules 2013. For the online method, artists can visit the official website of the Copyright Office and fill out the online Form XIV.
Offline Application: In the offline method, applicants must complete the registration application for their “artistic works” as per the format provided in Chapter XVIII – Schedule I – Form XIV of the Copyright Rules of 2013. The application should include a Statement of Particulars and a Statement of Further Particulars. These documents need to be submitted physically to the Copyright Office by the applicant.
Online Method: Alternatively, artists can opt for the online method, which offers a more user-friendly and streamlined process. To begin the online registration, applicants must register themselves on the official website of the Copyright Office ( Once registered, they can access the “e-filing of application” section and fill out the online Form XIV along with the Statement of Particulars and Statement of Further Particulars.
Choosing the online method is preferable due to its convenience and ease of use. The payment of government fees for registration is straightforward, and applicants receive a unique Diary number immediately after submission.
Particulars to be Provided in the Copyright Application
  • Name, Address, and Nationality of the Applicant (author/owner/publisher).
  • Nature of the applicant’s interest in the copyright (author or owner/publisher).
  • Class and description of the artwork (e.g., Artistic work) and whether it’s used or capable of being used in relation to goods and services.
  • Title of the artwork as it appears on the copy submitted with the application.
  • Language(s) used in the artwork.
  • Name, address, and nationality of the author, and in case of the author’s demise, the date of death.
  • Status of the artwork (published or unpublished).
  • Year and country of first publication, and if applicable, subsequent publications with publisher details.
  • Details of various rights holders of the copyright, including assignments and licenses, if any.
  • Location of the Original Work along with the name, address, and nationality of the person in possession of the work. For architectural works, the year of completion should also be shown.
  • If the artwork is used or capable of being used in relation to goods or services, the application must include a certificate from the Registrar of TradeMarks, as required by the Copyright Act.
  • If the artwork is capable of being registered as a design under the Designs Act 2000, the applicant should clarify whether it has been applied to an article through an industrial process, and if so, the number of times it has been reproduced. This is required as Copyright Registration won’t be applicable if the concerned artwork applicable for Design Registration has been produced more than 50 times. 
  • If the artwork is an adaptation of a prior work, the applicant needs to provide relevant details regarding the prior work’s copyright status and obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the copyright holder, if copyright still subsists in the prior work.

Examination Process

After the application is submitted, the Copyright Office conducts an examination to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information provided. This examination process aims to ensure that the application complies with the requirements of the Copyright Act and Copyright Rules, before the Registration is granted.

Here’s what the examination process entails:

  1. Formality Check: During the examination, the Copyright Office conducts a formality check to ensure that the application is correctly filled out and accompanied by all necessary documents and particulars.
  2. Originality Check: The Copyright Office assesses the originality of the artwork to ensure that it qualifies for copyright protection. This check verifies that the artwork is a unique creation of the author and not a copy of someone else’s work. The ultimate aim is to proceed with the registration process with a work that is copyrightable as per law. 
  3. Prior Publication and NOC Check (if applicable): In cases of adaptations, the Copyright Office verifies whether the prior work is in the public domain or still under copyright. If copyright subsists in the prior work, the NOC from the copyright holder is checked for authenticity.
  4. Design Registration Check (if applicable): For artworks capable of being registered as designs, the Copyright Office verifies the details of its production process and the number of times it has been produced.

Clearance of Objections

During the examination process, if any objections or discrepancies are found in the application, the Copyright Office may raise these concerns in a notice sent to the applicant. The applicant is then given an opportunity to address and rectify these objections with an appropriate reply within 30 days from receiving the objection notice. If the applicant fails to respond within this timeframe, the application shall be abandoned by the Copyright Office.

Grant of Copyright Registration

Upon successful completion of the examination process and clearance of any objections, if the Copyright Office is satisfied with the application’s authenticity and compliance, a copyright registration certificate is granted to the applicant. This certificate serves as official evidence of copyright ownership and exclusive rights to the artwork. Once the copyright is registered, the artist gains legal protection and enforcement rights against any unauthorized use, reproduction, or distribution of their artwork.

Documents Required for Artistic Work Copyright Registration

To complete the copyright registration process for artworks, applicants need to provide certain essential documents. These documents serve as crucial evidence, ensuring the authenticity and rightful ownership of the artwork. A complete list of all these documents are mentioned in the table below with their specific purposes.
S.No List Of Document for Artwork Copyright Registration
Duly filled Form XIV, Statement of Particulars, and Statement of further Particulars, signed by the applicant
Power of Attorney signed by the applicant and duly accepted by the Attorney
No Objection Certificate from various other persons involved in the creation of work (not required if the applicant is the author of the work)
Search Certificate issued by the Trade Mark Registry, if the artwork is used or capable of being used in relation to goods or services
Affidavit declaring non-registration of the artwork under the Designs Act (if applicable)
No Objection Certificate from the publisher (if applicable)
No Objection Certificate by the person whose picture is appearing on the work
Two original & identical copies of the work

Cost of Artistic Work Copyright

The cost of artistic work copyright registration in India varies depending on whether the artistic work is being used or is capable of being used in relation to any goods or services. For artworks that fall under this category, the registration fee is set at 2000/- INR. On the other hand, for artistic works that are not being used or are not capable of being used in relation to any goods or services, the registration fee is lower, amounting to 500/- INR.

Validity of a Copyrighted Artwork

Copyright protection in India provides artists with exclusive rights to their creative works for a specific duration. The validity of the copyright for an artwork depends on several factors, including the nature of the work, the type of creator, and the date of its creation.
  1. Published Artwork: For artistic work that’s been published, the copyright remains in force for the lifetime of the author plus an additional 60 years from the year of the author’s death.
  2. Posthumously Published Artworks: For artworks published posthumously or unpublished during the lifetime of the author, the copyright endures for 60 years from the year of first publication
  3. Jointly Authored Artworks: In cases of joint authorship, where multiple creators contribute to an artwork, the copyright term extends until 60 years after the death of the last surviving author.

Benefits of Artistic Work Copyright Registration

Copyright registration provides significant advantages to artists, offering legal protection and recognition for their creative works. By registering their artwork, artists can safeguard their intellectual property rights and enjoy various benefits, ensuring that their artistic endeavors are protected and acknowledged in the following ways:
  1. Legal Protection and Enforcement: Registering artwork as copyright establishes a legal record of ownership, making it easier for artists to enforce their exclusive rights. In case of any unauthorized use, reproduction, or distribution of the artwork, copyright registration allows artists to take legal action against the infringing party. This protection serves as a powerful deterrent, discouraging potential copyright violations and safeguarding the economic value of the artwork.
  2. Public Notice and Presumption of Ownership: Copyright registration provides public notice of the artist’s ownership over the artwork. When a work is registered, it is made part of the public record, and information about the author and creation date becomes accessible. This public notice creates a presumption of ownership, making it simpler for artists to prove their authorship in case of any dispute or challenge regarding the artwork’s originality.
  3. Access to Legal Remedies and Damages: In case of copyright infringement, artists who have registered their artwork are entitled to certain legal remedies and statutory damages. These remedies may include injunctive relief (stopping the infringing use), monetary damages, and recovery of legal expenses. Copyright registration strengthens the artist’s position in court and enhances their ability to claim damages for any financial losses caused by the infringement.

Copyright registration of artistic works in India is a crucial step for artists seeking to protect their creative endeavors. By registering their artwork, artists gain legal protection, enforcement rights, and recognition of their ownership. The process provides artists with the confidence to assert their exclusive rights, take legal action against infringements, and seek remedies for damages. Moreover, copyright registration ensures that their artistic legacy remains safeguarded and respected, encouraging a thriving creative environment. Therefore, artists are encouraged to avail the benefits of copyright registration to secure their artistic expressions and foster a culture of artistic protection and appreciation in India.



No, copyright registration is not mandatory in India to establish copyright ownership. Copyright protection automatically comes into effect as soon as the artwork is created. However, registering the artwork provides additional legal benefits and is highly recommended to strengthen the artist’s rights and enforcement capabilities.
Yes, it is possible to register multiple published artworks under a single copyright application if they were created by the same author or co-authors and form separate units of one artwork as a whole. This allows artists to save time and effort while registering multiple related works.
Yes, artists can register their unpublished artworks for copyright protection in India. The copyright term for unpublished artworks begins from the date of creation and extends for the lifetime of the author plus an additional 60 years after the author’s death.
No, copyright registration is a one-time process and cannot be modified or updated. However, if significant changes are made to the artwork, artists can consider registering the modified version as a separate copyright application.
Yes, copyright ownership can be transferred to another individual or entity through a legally binding agreement known as an assignment. The assignment agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties to effect the transfer of copyright ownership.
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