Posted by: Gomzy | February 7, 2007

Copyright on Downloaded Music

Before we discuss about the piracy and copyright violation it is prudent that we understand what these words refer to:

What is Piracy?

  • Robbery on the high seas; taking a ship away from the control of those who are legally entitled to it
  • The act of plagiarizing; taking someone’s words or ideas as if they were your own.
  • The unauthorized use or reproduction of copyrighted or patented material: software piracy.

What is copyright?

  • a document granting exclusive right to publish and sell literary or musical or artistic work
  • The legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work.

What is then Copyright Violation?

  • Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of copyrighted material in a manner that violates one of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works that build upon it.

These definitions are from and Wikipedia, but they are not relevant in legally for determining the copyright provisions towards listening to music in India. Therefore I read the Indian Copyright Act to see what it provides. I have summarized the relevant provisions below.

A Discussion of Indian Copyright Act 1957

  • Sec 13 states that the copyright subsists on original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works among others.
  • Sec 14 defines the meaning of copyright where it states that to do or to authorize to reproduce, issue copies, public performance, translation and adaptation among others.
  • Sec 27 provides the term of copyright is 60 years – from the year in which the record was first published.
  • Sec 51 defines the copyright infringement as any person without a licence granted by the owner of the copyright or the Registrar of Copyrights does anything (refer Sec 14) and makes for sale, distributes, exhibits in public.
  • Sec 52 Certain acts are not infringement of copyright: fair dealing for the purpose of Private use, including research, criticism, review, or for teaching.
  • Sec 63 provides that a person who knowingly infringes shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term of six months and with fine of fifty thousand rupees. Further provided that where infringement has not been made for gain in the course of trade or business the court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment impose impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than six months or a fine of less than fifty thousand rupees.
  • Sec 63B provides that where a person uses a infringing copy of a computer program shall be punishable with jail term of 7 days to 3 years and fine of 50K to 200K.


  • You can rip the songs from your CD and listen it privately – as provided in the Sec 52. However should you share with any one the you are into murkier waters.
  • Sec 63B provides for punishment for use of infringed software; however there is no such provision similar to Sec 63B for sound recording. That means infringing copyright on sound recording is punishable but using Infringed sound recording for private purpose is not a violation of Copyright Laws – Sec 52 comes to your rescue.
  • There is a logic behind this loophole. Let me explain by an example, Suppose you are playing music on the loud speakers for all to heare. Then you are indulging in piracy, however should a passerby happens to walk by you and listens to your music he can not be held responsible for piracy.

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