The Act protects the original literary work. So the two terms here are very important 

  1. What is the meaning of the original under the Copyright Act? &
  2. What is a literary work under the Copyright Act?

1.What is the meaning of the original under Copyright Act?

The word original here means originality in expression; it doesn’t mean that work must be the expression of original for inventive thought. The copyright act does not protect the idea but it protects the way the idea is being expressed by the author. The expression of the idea by the author must originate from the author himself and it should not be copied from another.

The principle is that no one can profit from the labour of another person by merely copying his work without giving due credit and benefit to the curator of work. However,  there is no infringement of copyright in the cases where the  result of the work of one person  may be similar to the result of another person working on the same topic where below mentioned two conditions could be proved:

  1. The source of information is common for both the person  creating the work and 
  2. Another person applies his mind to the subject

In Shyam Lal Paharia versus Gaya Prasad Gupta, it was held that in each case it is a question of fact whether impugned work is merely a copy of earlier Publication or it is the result of the labours of another person who has also worked on its own. In the above-noted case, the principles were briefly summarised as follows:

  1. A compilation which may be derived from a common source Falls within the Ambit of a literary work
  2. If work of compilation of a nature similar to that of another does not by itself constitutes an infringement of the copyright of another person’s work written on the same pattern
  3. The question of whether an IMP used work is a colourable imitation of another person work is a question of fact to be determined upon the facts and circumstances of each particular case;
  4. The determining factor in finding out whether another person’s copyright has been infringed is to see whether the improved work is a slab imitation and copy of another person’s work or it bears the impression of the author’s own labours and exertion or whether it has originality.

Many common mistakes found in two separate works may lead to the infringement of copyright.

Through various judicial pronouncements, it has been made clear that the word the term original under the copyright act doesn’t imply an original or novel form of Idea or inventive thought, meaning thereby the original work which is not copied from another work and it should originate from the author.

2. What is a literary work under the Copyright Act?

The word literary work has been defined under section 2(o) of the Copyright Act. Section 2(O) of the act provides that- literary work includes computer program tables and compilations including computer databases.  Expression literary doesn’t require any particular type of quality style or literary merit in literary work. In simple terms, the word literary work means something which is in writing or has been set out in print and is a reading matter. Thus, maps chat plans, question papers, questionnaire, Brochure, catalog, pamphlet, activity book, Judicial pronouncement, directories, encyclopedia dictionary, tables, and compilation fall within the ambit of literary work 

Translation/adaptation/abridgment of literary work may be protected under literary category only if it is original and the author of such work has employed sufficient labour, skill, and judgment in it. If the copyright in the original work, for which translation/adaptation/abridgment is being done, still exists a written consent or license from the copyright owner of the original work must be submitted at the time of seeking copyright registration of the newly created work. 

There are certain works in which copyright cannot subsist. These are  as under: 

  1. The work which is not original-The copyright shall subsist only in original works if a work is not original there can be no copyright in it; and if such work is reproduced by another, the reproduction cannot give rise to an action for infringement of copyright, because there is no copyright in a work which itself infringes copyright.
  2. The works which are libelous, Immoral, Obscene, or positively often have religious tendencies- There can be no copyright in the works which are against morality or public policy even if they are the original.