Copyright Law in India: Top Three Court Judgments


 The copyright law in India enables the copyright owner to claim damages for the breach of copyright. The following are some of the leading copyright cases that are held as important precedents in India. 


Copyright Law in India and Artistic Works 

In British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd. and Anr. v Armstrong Patent Company Ltd. & Anr. 1986 All ER 850 HL, the defendant was charged for copying the design drawings (of spare parts) of the plaintiff, using reverse engineering process. The designs were prepared by the draughtsman hired by the plaintiff. The plaintiff sought injunction under the Copyright Act that covered artistic works. The claim was upheld by the trial judge leading the defendants to appeal to the House of Lords. It was held that the Copyright Act did not cover indirect copying of mechanical drawings and the defendant’s appeal was allowed.

Copyright Law in India and Validity of Publishing Agreement

In Najma Heptulla v. Orient Longman Ltd., AIR 191989 Del 63, the plaintiff was a legal representative of Maulana Azad, who had supplied his book to Prof. Humanyun Kabir for its narration and translation. The plaintiff had received 50% royalty for 30 years giving the copyrights to the publisher. In this case, the court restrained the plaintiff from challenging the validity of the agreement. The plaintiff was not granted injunction to stop the publisher from publishing the book even after the said term was over.

Copyright Law in India and Plagiarism 

In Ratna Sagar (P) Ltd. v. Trisea Publications & Ors., 1996 PTC (16) 597, the claimant, a top publisher of children’s’ educational books LIVING SCIENCE sued defendant, who happened to be the publisher of a book UNIQUE SCIENCE for infringing its copyrights. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant had copied material from the former’s book. The court after comparing the two publications held that the defendant was guilty of copyright infringement and granted the latter permanent injunction. 

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