Copyright infringement is quite rampant in our media and entertainment industry. Several high profile cases make the headlines, every other day, where one artist has accused another, of plagiarizing his/her original work. Tunes, scripts, lyrics, nothing has been spared. It is imperative therefore, to know one’s legal rights to fight this menace.


Ms. Vanditta Malhotra Hegde, eminent advocate, has been working in the field of IP and Media laws for the past 15 years.


She believes, “People who own and create artistic work must stand up to protect their creations. Artistes should not shy away from incurring the costs required to protect their original work under copyright law. Copyright protection commences the moment a work is created, and its registration is optional. However, it is always advisable to obtain a registration as it constitutes a prima facie evidence in case of a copyright infringement”.

She also gave us an insight on some of the basics and what performing artists can do to protect their work. Read on:


Intellectual Property (IP) is a right protected under law and includes copyrights, patents and trademarks. The Copyright Act, 1957 came into effect from January 1958, for the purpose of protecting an individual’s original works of authorship.


Copyright law protects the expression of ideas rather than the ideas themselves.

The law confers the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, and producers of cinematograph movies and sound recordings, ‘Rights’ relating to reproduction of their work, communication of their work, adaptation and translation of their work. Hence, it is bundle of exclusive rights vested in the owner of the work and is designed to safeguard original work from use, without consent.


The actor brings to the stage his emotion and life to a character which words leave to interpretation. So while the author has copyright protection over literary work, and the dramatic work, the actor does have certain rights under the law called “Performer’s rights”. One of the major amendments brought along by the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 is with respect to Performers’ rights in India. The amendment provides for economic rights to performers along with the already subsisting moral rights.



Vanditta feels that the need of the hour is to organize more seminars, design modules, and create awareness through forums, to help artistes understand their rights and how they can protect their work.

Meanwhile she shares a few basic rules to keep in mind as safeguards;

        1. Attach a Notice of Copyright

Artistes should take all the steps required to make everyone aware that they are the copyright owners. It can be in the form of a standard notice included in the communications or putting it out to the public at large.

        2. Pen the content

Even performing artists must protect their content from being copied at live shows by simply writing it down in the form of a literary work. “The Copyright Act protects literary works in the same way that it protects lyrics,” Vanditta explains.

        3. Non- disclosure Agreement

When artistes send tapes or proof of their original artistic work for the purposes of auditions and employment, they must sign a non-disclosure agreement with the party concerned, stating that they are the owner and no part of their work can be used for any other purpose than just to listen to it or view it for auditions.


India has its own share of problems when it comes to implementation of the law. However recently there have been significant positive changes. New Copyright offices have been set up. Trademark offices have strict timelines. Laws are being made stricter. With the amendment of the Act, in 2012 and ‘Make in India’ approach of the government, there are more avenues for artistes to seek protection under the law. So next time, don’t shy away from protecting your piece of art.

About The Author

Gauri Mishra

Gauri Mishra, an economics student at Delhi University is a yoga practitioner and uses art to express. She loves painting and can always be seen cracking lame jokes. Beware when you ask her for an honest opinion, as that's exactly what you will get -honesty, no sugar and candy !

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