Enforcement of Copyright in India: Civil and Criminal Remedies

  • Setindiabiz Team
  • April 22, 2023
Enforcement of Copyright
Discover the essential strategies for enforcing copyright in India. From automatic protection to copyright registration, civil remedies, and criminal penalties, this comprehensive guide provides valuable insights and practical steps to safeguard your creative works against infringement.
In the world of intellectual property rights, copyright infringement is a serious concern that affects the reputation of creators and artists. So, understanding and exploring various legal remedies available against such infringement is extremely essential to copyright owners. Some of these remedies include injunctions, damages, and accounts of profits. Whether you’re a writer, filmmaker, or musician, a complete knowledge of the enforcement mechanisms can empower you to protect your creative works and combat copyright infringement effectively.
Additionally, copyright registration also plays a crucial role in enhancing your copyright enforcement efforts. While copyright is granted automatically upon its creation by the author, registering it provides concrete evidence of ownership, making it easier to establish your rights in case of infringement. Let’s discover the different ways of Copyright Enforcement under the Copyright Act in a little more depth and detail.

What are the Ways for Enforcement of Copyright in India?

Enforcing copyright in India is essential to protect the rights of creators over their original works, and prevent their unauthorized use or infringement. This can be achieved through various means. Here are some of the ways in which copyrights can be effectively enforced in India:
Ways for Enforcement of Copyright in India

1. Automatic Copyright Protection

Copyright is automatically granted upon the creation of an original work. This means that as soon as an original work is created and expressed in a tangible form, such as a written or recorded document, the creator immediately receives the exclusive rights to control its use and distribution. The automatic nature of copyright protection allows any copyright owner to enforce their rights.

2. Copyright Registration

Although copyright is granted automatically, registering your copyright with the Copyright Office provides additional benefits in terms of enforcement. Copyright registration serves as evidence of ownership, making it easier to establish your rights in case of infringement. It also allows for the pursuit of legal remedies, such as filing a civil or criminal suit, which we have discussed in detail further in this article.

3. Cease and Desist Notices

If you become aware of copyright infringement, you can send a cease and desist notice to the infringing party. This notice informs them of the copyright violation and demands that they immediately stop using the copyrighted material without permission. Cease and desist notices can be effective in resolving copyright disputes without resorting to legal action.

4. Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

In some cases, copyright disputes can be resolved through mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods. This involves engaging a neutral third party who helps facilitate a resolution between the copyright owner and the alleged infringer. Mediation and alternative dispute resolution can provide a more efficient and cost-effective means of enforcing copyright.

5. Civil Remedies

Civil remedies involve taking legal action in civil courts to address copyright infringement. The Indian Copyright Act, 1957 provides several civil remedies that copyright owners can pursue. These may include seeking injunctions to prevent further infringement, claiming damages as compensation for the losses suffered due to infringement, and seeking an account of profits made by the infringing party from the unauthorized use of copyrighted works.

6. Criminal Remedies

Criminal remedies involve prosecuting copyright infringement as a criminal offense. The Indian Copyright Act, 1957 outlines criminal penalties for copyright infringement, including imprisonment and fines. Criminal remedies serve as a deterrent against serious instances of copyright violation and are typically pursued by the state or government.

Civil Remedies under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957

Section 55 of the Indian Copyright Act 1957 outlines the civil remedies available to copyright owners. Civil remedies refer to the legal actions and remedies available to copyright owners in civil court proceedings to address the acts of copyright infringement. These may include seeking injunctions, claiming damages, and requesting an account of profits from the infringing party. Let’s see what they actually entail.


A copyright owner can seek an injunction, which is a court order that prohibits the infringing party from continuing the unauthorized use of copyrighted material. This remedy helps prevent further infringement.


The Act allows copyright owners to claim damages as compensation for the losses suffered due to infringement. The court determines the amount of damages based on various factors such as the extent of the infringement and the financial impact on the copyright owner.


Copyright owners can request an account of profits made by the infringing party from the unauthorized use of copyrighted works. This provision ensures that the copyright owner receives a share of any profits earned by the infringer.

Filing a Civil Suit for Copyright Infringement

A copyright owner can initiate a civil suit for copyright infringement in the District Court within the appropriate jurisdiction, including where the plaintiff resides. By following the prescribed procedures, the copyright owner can seek legal remedies against the infringing party.

Criminal Remedies under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957

Sections 63-70 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 addresses the criminal penalties imposed for copyright infringement. Criminal proceedings refers to legal actions taken in a criminal court to address violations of criminal law. In the context of copyright infringement, criminal proceedings involve prosecuting individuals or entities who have committed copyright infringement as a criminal offense. This typically involves the state or government bringing charges against the infringing party, who may face penalties such as imprisonment and fines if found guilty.


In cases of copyright infringement, the Act allows for imprisonment of the infringing party, which can extend up to three years. This provision serves as a deterrent against serious instances of copyright violation.


In addition to imprisonment, the Act permits the imposition of fines on the infringing party. The amount of the fine is determined by the court, considering the severity of the infringement and its impact on the copyright owner.

Jurisdiction for Criminal Cases

Criminal suits for copyright infringement can be tried in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate and Judicial Magistrate, following the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This ensures the proper application of criminal law procedures in such cases.

Powers of Police to Seize Infringing Copies (Section 64)

Section 64 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 grants police officers the authority to seize infringing copies without a warrant if they have reasonable grounds to believe that an offense of infringement is being or likely to be committed. The officer must satisfy certain criteria before initiating such action.

Delhi High Court Ruling

In 2011, the Delhi High Court struck down a notice issued by the Commissioner of Police, emphasizing that police action should not be influenced by the identity of the complainant. The court ruled that the police should prima facie determine the existence of copyright infringement before seizing goods

The enforcement of copyright in India involves both civil and criminal remedies to protect the rights of copyright owners. While civil suits provide avenues for seeking injunctions, damages, and accounts, criminal penalties, including imprisonment and fines, serve as deterrents against infringement. The powers granted to police officers for seizing infringing copies require adherence to legal standards, as highlighted by the Delhi High Court ruling. By understanding and utilizing these enforcement mechanisms, copyright owners can safeguard their creative works and combat copyright infringement effectively.



Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of copyrighted works without the owner’s permission.
Penalties for copyright infringement can include fines, damages, and potential imprisonment, depending on the severity of the infringement and jurisdiction.
To enforce your copyright, gather evidence of infringement, consult with an IP lawyer, send a cease and desist letter, and file a lawsuit if necessary.
Fair use is a legal doctrine allowing limited use of copyrighted material without permission, typically for purposes such as criticism, commentary, or education.

Q5: Can I use copyrighted material in my YouTube videos or podcasts?

Using copyrighted material in YouTube videos or podcasts generally requires permission, unless it falls under fair use or other exceptions. Seek legal advice for clarity.
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