India - Copyright Rules Amended.

Legal News & Analysis - Asia Pacific - India - Intellectual Property

22 April 2021

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry notified the Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021 on March 30, 2021, effective immediately. The key changes brought about by the Amendments are set out below.

Appellate Board

The Copyright (Amendment) Rules, 2021 (‘Amendments’) empowered the erstwhile Intellectual Property Appellate Board (‘Appellate Board’) to grant compulsory and statutory licenses, determine royalty rates and do all such things that were previously the responsibility of the Copyright Board. However, due to the subsequent abolishment of the Appellate Board by the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021 effective from April 4, 2021, these powers now vest with the appropriate Commercial Courts set up under the Commercial Courts Act, 2015.

Reforms to the Functioning of Copyright Societies

•   Copyright societies are now required to create electronic systems of collection and distribution of royalties, such that payments made through such modes are traceable.

•   Where an author / owner of a work cannot be identified or located, royalties relating to such works must be kept in a separate account of the copyright society. Copyright societies must take adequate measures to find such authors by publishing information relating to such works on their website. If such authors are still not identifiable, the royalty so reserved, may be transferred to the welfare fund set up for the welfare scheme provided to members of such copyright societies.

•   Copyright societies must now publish an annual transparency report on their website, which must remain accessible for a period of three years. This report must provide details of the activities undertaken by the copyright society in a given financial year, details of license refusals, royalties collected and paid to authors, the use of amounts deducted from royalties for administrative expenses and welfare schemes etc.

•   Copyright societies must also (i) provide a searchable database of works forming part of their repertoire; (ii) ensure timely publication of the annual transparency report; and (iii) provide details of undistributed royalties in cases of works whose authors / owners could not be identified or located.

Source Code Registration

With the aim of strengthening confidentiality of information, applicants of software copyrights are now only required to submit unredacted versions of the first 10 and last 10 pages of their source code (however, if the source code is less than 20 pages, the entire code must be submitted), in contrast to the previous requirement of submitting the entire source code and object code in unredacted form.

Procedural Changes

•   The Amendments provide that all notifications will now be published in the Copyright Journal and the official website of the Copyright Office, instead of the Official Gazette.

•   Certain applications made under the Copyright Rules, 2013 (‘Rules’) (such as applications for compulsory licenses under Rule 6, Rule 17 and Rule 18) may now be served on the owner of the relevant works through electronic means, rather than by registered post.

•   The Amendments also allow applicants to make payments (required to be made under the Rules) through electronic means, in addition to demand drafts and banker’s cheques.

Way Forward

The Amendments have critically recognized the necessity for digital access to resources, and are now poised to bring the Copyright office on par with the digital facilities of the Patents and Trade Marks offices. Further, most importantly, with the new requirement of preparing annual transparency reports, the Amendments have taken a significant step towards bringing transparency to the otherwise opaque manner in which copyright societies work.


For further information, please contact:


Zia Mody, Partner, AZB & Partners

[email protected]