July 11, 2023

Unraveling Copyright Law in India: Safeguarding Your Musical Creations

Covers the duration of copyright, ownership rights of lyricists, composers, singers, and producers, and highlights the benefits of copyright registration.

Unraveling Copyright Law in India: Safeguarding Your Musical Creations


Imagine you compose music distribution and discover that someone has used your song in their video or movie without your permission.It is natural to feel angry in such a situation. Additionally, despite the song receiving numerous views, you didn't receive any royalties because you didn't have the legal rights to your creation. This is where copyright becomes relevant. Copyright law in India is like a shield that protects your creative works, including music. Understanding how copyright works is essential whether you're a songwriter, composer, singer, or producer. In this article, we will walk you through the process of obtaining a copyright and shed light on the ownership rights of different contributors to a song.

I. Copyright Protection for Musical Creations

A. What Does Copyright Cover?
Music Copyright protection in India extends to various musical creations, including original songs, lyrics, melodies, and even sound recordings. As a creator, you have exclusive rights over your work, such as controlling who can reproduce, distribute, perform, or adapt your music.

B. How Long Does Copyright Last?
The duration of music copyright protection depends on the type of work. For songs and other creative works, copyright lasts for the author's lifetime plus sixty years from the year of their death or sixty years from the date of publication, whichever is later. As for sound recordings, they enjoy copyright protection for sixty years from the year following their publication. Performer's rights, which cover singers' performances, last for fifty years from the year of the performance.

II. Ownership Rights in a Song

A song is a collaborative effort, often involving individuals with unique contributions. Let's break down the ownership rights in a song:

A. Lyricist's Copyright
The lyricist holds the copyright for the literary work. They have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, adapt, and publicly perform their written masterpiece.

B. Composer's Copyright
The composer owns the copyright for the musical composition. They have the exclusive right to reproduce, perform, adapt, and Free music distribution with the world.

C. Singer's Performer's Rights
The singer performing a song has exclusive rights to make recordings of their performances, distribute them, and protect their recordings from unauthorized use. It's important to note that the performer's rights don't override the rights of the song's lyricist and composer.

D. Producer's Copyright
The producer plays a vital role in recording and distributing the song. They hold the music copyright for the sound recording, giving them the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, communicate, and make the recorded music available to the public.

III. Registration Process & Importance

A. The Importance of Registering Copyright

Copyright protection provides significant benefits and reinforces the protection of your creative efforts. As an artist, you are entitled to collect royalties for your works, and it's crucial to take steps to protect your creations. For independent artists, it is recommended to be associated with a copyright society relevant to their artistic output and conduct research to ensure their rights are adequately protected.

Please note that copyright laws can be complex and vary from country to country, so artists should consider seeking professional advice from a qualified lawyer who specialises in intellectual property matters to fully understand their rights and the appropriate steps to take:

1. Solid Evidence of Ownership: It provides concrete evidence of your ownership over the musical composition or sound recording by creating an official record making it easier to prove your ownership.

2. Enhanced Legal Protection: It strengthens your legal position and provides additional avenues for protection. In the event of litigation, copyright registration can significantly strengthen your case and increase your chances of success.

3. Deterrent Effect: The act of registering acts as a deterrent to potential infringers. They are more likely to respect your rights and seek proper permissions before using your music. It conveys that you are serious about protecting your creative endeavors.

4. Access to Legal Remedies: It grants you access to a wide range of legal remedies and options in case of infringement. It allows you to seek statutory damages and attorney's fees in litigation, which can be crucial in recovering damages.

5. Global Protection: It can also facilitate international protection of your musical creations. Under certain international treaties, copyright registration in your home country may serve as a basis for seeking protection in other countries.

6. Licensing and Commercial Opportunities: It provides a clear framework for negotiating and entering into licensing agreements with third parties, such as music distribution services, publishers, streaming platforms, or film production companies. Registering your copyright increases the perceived value of your music and enhances your ability to monetise your creative works.

In summary, registering your copyright offers the substantial advantages mentioned above. Considering these benefits, it is highly recommended to register your copyright to maximise the protection and value of your musical creations.

B. Steps to Register Copyright

1. Complete Form XIV: To initiate the copyright registration process, you must fill out Form XIV. Provide accurate and comprehensive information about your musical work in the form.

2. Submit the Application: Once you have filled out the form, submit it to the Registrar of Copyrights along with the required fee. This fee covers the processing and registration of your copyright. If your song involves multiple authors, you must obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from them, acknowledging your right to register the copyright.

3. Choose the Application Submission Method: You have two options for submitting your copyright application:

   a. Physical Submission: You can send your application physically by post to the Registrar of Copyrights. Ensure to follow the guidelines provided by the copyright office and include all necessary documents.

   b. Online Submission: Alternatively, you can submit your application online through the official copyright website of the Government of India. This method offers convenience and saves time. 

4. Notify Interested Parties: It is important to notify any individuals who claim an interest in your copyright. This notification ensures that all parties involved know your intent to register the copyright and can raise objections if necessary.

5. Application Review: After receiving your copyright application, the Registrar will review its contents and verify the provided information. The Registrar ensures that the application adheres to the requirements specified in the Copyright Act and related regulations.

6. Objection Process: If no objections are raised within thirty days of filing the application, the Registrar will proceed with the registration process and enter your copyright details in the Register. However, in case of any objections, the Registrar will conduct an inquiry to allow all concerned parties to present their arguments and evidence.

7. Registrar's Decision: Based on the inquiry and considering the arguments presented by the parties involved, the Registrar will decide to accept or reject the copyright application. The Registrar's decision aims to ensure fairness and protect the rights of all parties concerned.

8. Completion of Registration: Once the Registrar approves your application and signs the entry of your copyright in the Register, the registration process is considered complete. You will receive a certificate of copyright registration, which serves as official documentation of your copyright ownership.

By following these steps and registering your copyright, you enhance the legal protection of your musical creations and establish a solid foundation for any potential legal actions against copyright infringement.

IV. Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It's always a good idea to consult with a qualified legal professional for specific guidance and assistance regarding copyright matters.


Understanding the Copyright Law and registering your copyright can effectively safeguard your music. It strengthens your legal protection, providing undeniable evidence of ownership and making it easier to fight infringement. Own your art and enjoy the benefits that come with it!