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Matters which are copyrightable

There are various types of works which are copyrightable as literary work. Some of these are  enumerated as under:

Table of Contents

Books or e-books

Books written in print or in any digital form may be protected, the new edition of the book may also be considered or as an original work if there is a substantial change in the new edition.

Poems, Novels, and Story

Poems, novels, and stories whether in writing or in print or any other digital form are classified as literary work and are also a subject matter of copyright protection.


Plays are copyrightable as original dramatic work which is being presented whether in writing or in print but it does not include a cinematograph film.


The act of abridgment is an exertion of the understanding employed in representing a large work Concisely in a compressed language of abridger by preserving the thoughts of opinion and ideas expressed in the original work. To qualify as an abridged work in a legal sense the independent labour must be apparent, the mere reduction of the size of work by copying of its part and omitting the others confers no title to authorship and the result is not an abridgment entitled to protection. Abridged work is considered as original literary work and enjoys copyright protection.


Adaptation implies the preparation of new work in the same or different form based upon an already existing work. The copyright defines the following acts as an adaptation
  1. Conversion of a literary or artistic work into a dramatic work
  2. Conversion of a dramatic work into a non-dramatic work
  3. Rearrangement of a literary or dramatic work depiction in comic form through pictures of  a literary or  a dramatic work
  4. Translation of a musical work or any act involving rearrangement or alteration of an existing work
The making of a cinematograph film of a literary or dramatic or musical work is also an adaptation.
In nutshell, adaptation in works is more or less original and creative work. But at the same time, the creative element in the adaptation is not such that it may be said the prior work was nearly used as a point of departure for inspiration for the creation of new and independent work. The creator of adaptation enjoys copyright protection only to the extent of the creativity contributed to the work by the adaptor without affecting the copyright of the original author. Adaptation to be entitled to copyright protection must have the consent of the author or it must be of work in the public domain.


The compilation is an expression literary work, the law protects not only the work of genius science and art but also mere compilation. Many compilations have nothing original in their parts, but the sum total of the compilation may be original. In such cases, it is needed to be seen whether the compilation of original material called for work or skill or expenses. If it did, it is entitled to be considered original and to be protected against those who wish to steal the fruits of work or skill or expense by copying it without taking the pain to compile it themselves. In each case, it is a question of degree whether the labour or skill or ingenuity expenses involved in the compilation is sufficient to warrant a claim to the originality in a compilation. The literary merit of derivative work or creativity, the aspect of the same need not be evaluated; one needs to see whether derivative work is not the end product of the skilled labour and capital which is trivial or negligible but substantial. Some of the compilation to which copyright protection has been granted is mentioned here
  • A dictionaries and directories
  • An arrangement of the broadcasting program
  • Biographical notes of prominent golfers published in a golf annual
  • An alphabetical list of the railway station with notes on their respective importance historical or otherwise
  • A report of a public speech
  • A chemist catalog of drugs for sale
  • Almanac
  • Encyclopedia
  • Guidebooks
The law protects only those compilations where sufficient labour and skill were employed in the selection and the arrangement of it. The law does not prohibit the making of similar compilations if they are the result of the labour of the author and not the copy of those that are protected.

Lyrics of a song

It is also eligible for protection as a literary work and is copyrightable

Judicial pronouncements

It contains in a clear and precise language the legal principle deriving from previous judgment, for the fact and the circumstances which bring the matter within the framework of principle or rule of law practice. Therefore, these are considered original literary work if sufficient exercise of skill and judgment is employed by way of writing headnotes, editorial notes, and footnotes. The real judgment delivered by the Court is not copyrightable.

Lectures speeches and sermon

If these are reduced in writing or in print or in any other digital format they are classified as literary work and entitled to copyright protection. Writing of preachers for a compilation of their teachings for some lines for saying are literary work if they are a result of knowledge labour judgment, learning, skill or realization, and understanding.
Letter: letters are literary work and can be protected under the copyright act the letters which are generic in nature add entitled to copyright registration.


It involves the effect of the author to explain the situation through his knowledge and examples and is thus classified as a literary work entitled to the protection of copyright.
As we all know that the copyright doesn’t protect the idea but if the idea is developed into a concept note fledged with adequate details then the same is entitled to the protection of the copyright as a literary work.


Panchang provides the information regarding tithi Nakshatra except apart from mentioning the dates does it cannot be classified as a calendar and is entitled to copyright protection as a literary work.

Comic books

A comic book is a work where the story is depicted by means of images in different frames along with literary work on it in form of dialogue and words the literary element of the comic book can be protected as a literary work and the copyright and the artistic element can be protected as an artistic work under the category of artwork.
Research thesis/ dissertation/ research papers
These are the literary works and can be copyrighted but NOC from the college of the institution Under whose direction and control the work has been created is required to be submitted at the time of seeking registration by the applicant.

Questionnaire and Question Papers

In Aggarwal publishing house versus Board of High School and Intermediate Education UP Allahabad AIR 1967  All  91 it was held that the original literary work referred to in section 13 of the copyright act 1957 or not confined to the work of literature as commonly understood. it will include all the work expressed in writing, whether they have any literary merit or not this is clear from the definition given in section 2(o) of the act which states that that literary work includes tables and compilation. It was further held by the court that the word “original” used in section 13 of the Copyright Act, 1957 does not imply any originality of idea but merely means that work in question should not be copied from some other work but should originate in the author being the product of his labour and skill. Thus question papers being original literary work can be copyrighted.

Activity books

Activity books can be copyrighted only if the content and the work contained therein qualify the protection and the registration prerequisites of literary work provided under the Copyright Act.


All of these qualifies as work and can be copyrighted. it is important to note that these works are either purely literary in content or a mixture of both literary and artistic content and at the time of seeking registration the applicant needs to seek the registration of the work in the category it falls. However, if such work contains purely artistic work then the applicant seeking the registration of the work should submit a separate application for each image with the prescribed fee under the artistic category.

Ticket books

Preparation of tickets and placing them in tables requires a good deal of skill and labour and that satisfies the taste of being original literary work. It was recognized that the arrangement of numbers is the individual work of a person who prepares it; it bears his Individuality and long hours of labour, that’s the ticket books and tickets are literary work capable of copyright protection [Rai Toys Industries V. Munir Printing Press 1982 PTC 85]. Tickets used in the game of Tambola are entitled to copyright protection as it involves a form of tables of numbers requiring an investment of skill,  labour, and originality in preparation.
Single-word, Name, Title, Screenshot /snapshot of an app, recipe ( without instruction) Mathematical formulas, Slogan, certificates, pocket diaries and calendar, website as a whole, Pocket diaries and calendars, blank form, general layouts, etc do not qualify as a copyrightable work and hence not eligible for registration under copyright.
To conclude,  the law of copyright rests on a very clear principle that anyone who by his or her own skill and Labour creates an original work of whatever character that will enjoy an exclusive right to copy that work. No one else main forest season reap what the copyright owner had sown.

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