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Bundle of Rights under Copyright Law

Updated: Jul 8, 2021


Over the years, Copyright law has evolved as the guardian of artistic rights of authors who put their blood, sweat and tears into creating original works. The Copyright Act, 1957, under Section 14, enlists certain rights that can be enjoyed by the copyright holder and grants moral rights under Section 57. They can be classified into economic rights and moral rights. These rights are distributed evenly in all fields where copyright may be granted, with minor exceptions. Here, we discuss the right of reproduction, performance, publication, audio-visual expression, translation and adaptation which are economic rights; the right to paternity and integrity which are moral rights.

Economic Rights:

1. The Right of Reproduction: The right of reproduction commonly means that no person shall make one or more copies of a work or of a substantial part of it in any material form including sound and film recording without the permission of the copyright owner. The most common kind of reproduction is printing an edition of a work. Reproduction occurs in storing work in the computer memory.

2. The Right of Publication or Communication to Public: Communication to the public means making any work available for being seen or heard or otherwise enjoyed by the public directly or by any means of display or diffusion. It is not necessary that any member of the public actually sees, hears or otherwise enjoys the work so made available. For example, a cable operator may transmit a cinematograph film, which no member of the public may see. Still, it is a communication to the public. The fact that the work in question is accessible to the public is enough to say that the work is communicated to the public.

3. The Right of Performance: the authors have the right to generate revenues through performances. Concerts and world tours by singers is an example. These performances can be executed in public and private forms.

4. The Right of Audio-Visual Expression: This right confers the author to represent his/her work in audio-visual format, commonly referred to as the cinematographic expression. The author holding rights in the literary, dramatic and musical works including sound recording also has the right to make the cinematographic film by using those works.

5. The Right of Translation and Adaptation: Adaptation involves the preparation of new work in the same or different form based upon an already existing work. The Copyright Act defines the following acts as adaptations:

  1. Conversion of a dramatic work into a non-dramatic work

  2. Conversion of a literary or artistic work into a dramatic work

  3. Re-arrangement of a literary or dramatic work

  4. Depiction in a comic form or through pictures of a literary or dramatic work.

  5. Transcription of a musical work or any act involving re-arrangement or alteration of existing work.

The making of a cinematograph film of a literary or dramatic or musical work is also an adaptation. For example, the movie “Dil Bechara” was an adaptation of the novel “Fault in our Stars” and so was the movie “Ram-Leela” which was an adaptation of Willam Shakespeare’s “Romeo-Juliet”.

Moral Rights:

Moral rights generally include the right to paternity and the right to integrity.

1. Right to Paternity: As the “creator” of a work, the author can claim ownership over their work and prevent others from claiming ownership have the work attributed to them.

2. Right to Integrity: this right allows the author to claim damages in the case when someone tries to damage the reputation of the work, mutilate, modify or alter his work inappropriately which may cause harm to the work and the author.


An author and his work are both wedded for life. It is an extension of the authors’ identity. In many of the cases, the author is deprived of his own work, in such circumstances, the economic rights and moral rights can act as a double-edged sword to protect the author and their work.

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