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In India, the 1957 copyright act (as revised by the 2012 copyright legislation) regulates copyright law. As of 21 January 1958, the Act is applicable. The history of Indian copyright law may be traced back to the British Empire's colonial era. The first copyright law after independence in India was the Copyright Act 1957, and since 1957, the law has been modified six times. The last modification of the Copyright Act in 2012, as amended, was made in 2012. India, including the 1886 Berne Convention, is a member of most significant agreements governing copyright law (as modified at Paris in 1971). The Copyright Act of 1976 established the first statutory definition of joint authorship by codifying the idea of joint authorship evolved in the case law. Joint authorship only existed under common law before the Copyright Act. Two or more writers are designed to merge their own efforts into a single comprehensive book. However, it is vital to note that a distinction exists between shared authorship and a joint work. More than shared authorship can include collaborative work, as it can occur without a shared authorship. An author, for example, may transfer a part of his own work to another person to produce a collaborative work. It's not a joint creator. Joint authorship demands the meaning of its name: joint authoring works.

Every joint author has the non-renounced right to terminate any copyright grants it has made, as opposed to a transfer of interest. The author and his statutory survivors have the right to terminate any transfer, within a five-year term, thirty-five years after the author makes the transfer. The author and his successors are also entitled to end the transfer of the interest on a term of renewal.

Finally, only writers have the right to the legal moral rights accompanying authorship works. The Visual Artist's Rights Act of 1990 grant these rights on writers of visual artworks. As the name indicates, only works of visual art are covered under the Law of the Visual Artist. The law includes the right to requested authorship and the right to honesty. These moral rights solely belong to the work's author and never to a copyright transferor. The writers are co-owners of ethical principles in a collective work of visual art.


The doctrine on joint authorship was evolved only in the common law until it was codified by the Copyright Act of 1976. In the second federal court system, the foundation of common authorship law was mainly created in the USA. In the second track, the first notable case was Maurel v. Smith,. The applicant prepared in Maurel an overview for a comedy opera and agreed to produce a libretto for an opera with the defendant. The complainant asserted that the parties agreed to be copyright co-owners. The defendant engaged another party to publish the play and the copyright without the plaintiff's knowledge. Judge Learned Hand ruled that the parties consented to be joint authors in the district court opinion. Judge Hand based his judgement on English law as there was little American law on this matter. Judge Hand referred to Levy v. Rutley, who found that the joint author's office occurs if many parties cooperate in a joint and preconcerted way. In Maurel, Judge Hand founded such a cooperative work. The complainant provided the plot and the defendant extended it. He judged it satisfactory.The Copyright Act of 1976 formalized most of the joint work concept in the Second Circuit as established by the case law. On 1 January 1978 the Copyright Act came into force. The main provision for 'joint works' is included in 17 U.S.C. § 101 of the copyright law.

There, a 'joint work' is defined as the labour of two or more writers to combine their contributions into indissoluble or interdependent components of a unified whole. This statement shows the Congress did not wish to go to the notion of "12th Street Rag," which vitiated pre-concerted requirements for common design and cooperation as set forth in the previous case law. The Copyright Act of 1976 is obvious. The history of the Copyright Act's legislative history also shows that Congress intended to reject the notion of the "12th Street Rag." Legislative history shows the aim of the Congress that the writers must work together in a collaborative effort with the purpose to produce a joint paper during the writing process. The 1961 Report also noted that the register of copyrights does not go so far as to make the decision on "12th Street Rag" but that it respects the laws of the prior jurisdiction. It is therefore obvious that, with the exception of subsequent "12th Street Rag" case, the case law as established by Judge Hand at the Second Circuit was codified by the 19.


The question whether each contribution of any supposed coauthor must be copyrighted remains an unresolved one of the primary concerns in the joint work doctrine. In addition to split scholarly views on the subject, are also disagreeable among the 12 federal circuit courts. In this connection, the Supreme Court still has to judge. The relative sparsity of the case law dealing with the various subjects of collaborative effort might be attributed to this lack of consensus. There is scant jurisprudence on the duality of idea/expression in especially as regards the theory of joint effort." Copyright law is a basic principle that protects just speech and not ideas. The question is whether it covers cooperative work. This section discusses this significant and difficult subject and seeks a response to the copyright and likely aim of Congress.

A. Viewpoint of Academic Authorities:

The divergent viewpoints of two renowned commentators on copyright show a break between the different governmental circuits, as to whether each author must contribute the expression of copyright in order to be regarded as a common author. Professor Nimmer believes that, in order to be a joint author, the author does not require a copyright contribution to a work. Nimmer says that the 1976 Copyright Act and its legislative history do not support the assumption that an author must produce a contribution that may be protected from copyright.

Goldstein says, like Nimmer, that the contribution of each author does not require equal quantities or quality. However, no matter how little the contribution is, the contribution must be unique, not just the concept.

B. Positions Taken by the Federal Circuits:

Like the commentators, on the question of copyrightable contributions, some federal circuits are divided. Other circles, as well as the Supreme Court, either failed to consider the problem or opted explicitly not to rule on the matter. The positions held by the several federal circuits are summarized here. The First Circuit still has a copyright matter to answer. But the District Court in Forward v. Thorogood decided that without making a major creative contribution, one could only achieve joint authorship status.

While some district court supported the nimmer perspective, there were only signals of agreement by one appeal court, the D.C. Circuit. It seems that the problem will stay unresolved until the Supreme Court settles the matter or Congress adjusts the copyright law.

C. Discussion:

This section examines whether joint authorship calls on suspect co-authors to make copyrightable contribution and then points to how the law should be administered more fairly, given that the predominant judgments of the federal courts and commentators have been made forth for comparison. This means that a person who fixes the work in a real medium of expression must provide more than just a basic concept to another. Before transferring the work to another one, the author must have produced an expression of the concept. If the individual doing the repair is to be regarded an author, they cannot partake in the creative procedure.'


A "joint work" was defined by the 1976 Copyright Act as "a work created by two or more writers to integrate their contribution into inseparable or interdependent elements of a unitary whole." The Act does not specify a "intention" or how the purpose is to be used in the context of collaborative effort. This fundamental condition of shared authorship may only be clarified in the legislative history. Suppose an author delivers a first draught of a book which she writes to an editor. In addition, imagine the editor likes a book, but requests certain text adjustments. Although quantitatively minute compared to the contribution of the Author, certain ideas are copyrightable. The author accepts and agrees with the revisions of the publisher. Only the name of the author appears as the author of the book on the novel cover. The question might arise if the publisher may be considered a joint author in this way.


With its vast economic and moral advantages, the law must explicitly clarify what is necessary to achieve the position of co-author. We run the risk of theft of intellectual property and credit where credits are not owing without a finely defined set of standards through which our courts may determine the authorship. Creative writings and the diffusion of new ideas can flourish only when authors have a clear and well-defined set of laws within which they may operate. The courts should first agree on the nature of the contribution of each author to a common work. One must contribute copyrightable expression to the granting of Joint Author Status.

This position is supported by most courts. It is in fact a cornerstone of copyright law, which can only copyright speech, not ideas. In the context of the collaborative production, this fundamental copyright principle should apply equally. This view is reinforced when the Copyright Act is taken as a whole, as it is obvious that Congress was not intending to define a criterion for authors of joint works. The courts should also examine the application of the purpose requirement in detail in a second phase. The courts should also examine the application of the purpose requirement in detail in a second phase. In drafting the provisions of the Act as a joint work, Congress emphasized the intention of the author as the essential element of determination of the status of joint author. Surprisingly, this question was not fully considered by the Court. Only in Childress versus Taylor could any court consider this criterion thoroughly and acknowledge that a broad and limited interpretation of purpose might be given.

This article implies that the courts regard this intention narrowly. The purpose of the copyright is advanced by evaluating if supposed co-authors are meant to produce the legal implications of a co-author rather than just to create a single work. However, the courts will confront a problem by adopting this approach. You must examine the writers' ideas and discover how their legal ties are affected. This will need a careful review of all the evidence available for decryption, but this is the only correct means of ensuring that only the worthy writers are properly recognized.


  • See Visual Artist's Rights Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-650, 104 Stat. 5128 (1990) (codified as amended at 17 U.S.C. §§ 101, 106A, 113, 301, 411(a), 412, 501(a), 506 (Supp. III 1992)).

  • W.R. Cornish, “Intellectual Property: Patents, Copyright, Trade Marks and Allied Marks,” (Delhi: Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., 2003), 2nd Indian Reprint, at 297.

  • Dr. B. L. Wadehra, “Law Relating to Intellectual Property,” (New Delhi: Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., 2012), 5th Edition Reprint, at 26

  • Meenu Paul, “Intellectual Property Laws,” (Faridabad: Allahabad Law Agency, 2009), 3rd Edition, at 21.

  • Dr. M. K. Bhandari, “Law Relating to Intellectual Property Rights,” (Allahabad: Central Law Publications, 2010), 2nd Edition, at 27.

  • 227th Report by the Department- Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development on the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2010, presented to the Rajya Sabha and laid on the table of the Lok Sabha on November 23, 2010; Rajya Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi, November 2010/ Agrahayana, 1932 (Saka). Available at: http://

  • N. S. Gopalakrishnan and T.G. Agitha, “Principles of Intellectual Property,” (Lucknow: Eastern Book Co., 2009) 1st Edition, at 224-233;

  • Arathi Ashok, “Economic Rights of Authors under Copyright Law: Some emerging Judicial Trends,” Journal of Intellectual Property Rights, Vol.15, Jan. 2010.

Submitted by – Ayushi Tyagi, Law Student

College – Amity Law School , Noida

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