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Types of Copyright – All You Need To Know

types of copyright

Copyright includes a bundle of rights that protects the creator from their work getting copied by others. The copyright comprises adaptation, reproduction rights, translation, and also publishing in public.

This article covers what copyright means per Indian law and the different types of copyright in India. You will also know about types of work that can and cannot be copyrighted.

What does copyright mean?

Copyright is a part of Intellectual Party Rights. As per the Copyright Act of 1957, the term Copyright means the right to copy is available only to the creator or author of the content. It gives the original creator rights to adaptation, communication, and reproduction. 

Copyrights are usually applicable to people in the field of literature, music, cinematography, and any other industry where creativity is involved. The validity of the copyright registration is 60 years. 

Different Types of Copyright Available in India

Under section 13 of the Copyright Act of 1957, you can protect different work categories under this act. Those categories are:

Literary work

Literary work includes any original creation of literature consisting of biography, fiction, technical books or papers, research work, thesis, and computer programs that include databases, scripts, and tables. You can claim the copyright in this industry irrespective of the work’s quality, style, and merit.

The copyrights under literary work provide exclusive rights to:

  • Make variations of any work
  • Issue copies of the literary work to the public
  • Performing or communicating the work to the public
  • Reproducing the original work
  • Make a cinematograph film or sound recording of the work
  • Make translation of work

Artistic work

As per section 2 of the Copyright Act, Artistic work comprises paintings, drawings, plans, diagrams, maps, sculptures, cartoons, graphics, etchings, buildings, and their models, moulds, and charts. It should be the original artistic work.

The copyrights under artistic work provide exclusive rights to:

  • Issue the work copies to the public
  • Make the adaptations to the work
  • Reproduce the work
  • Communicate the work to the public

Cinematograph film

Cinematographic films include every work that involves visuals and any moving images. It consists of both visual recordings as well as sound recordings. The method of recording and storing can be anything.

The copyrights under cinematographic work provide exclusive rights to:

  • Hire, copy, or sell the copy of the film
  • Allot the cinematograph to the public
  • Make any variations or copies of the film

Dramatic work

Dramatic work is similar to literary work, including drama, choreography, entertainment, or any writing work. Dramatic work does not include any cinematographic work.

Under the Dramatic work copyrights, the exclusive rights provided to it are:

  • Making any variations in the work
  • Reproducing the work
  • Issuing copies of the work to the public
  • Including the work in any cinematographic film
  • Doing any translation to the work
  • Making any adaptation to the work

Music work

Music work is copyrightable by itself. The copyright for music work does not include any sound or lyrics. For the musical work copyright, one has to file a separate application in the copyright office. The author of the sound recording has to get permission from the author of the music work to go ahead.

The copyright of music work has exclusive rights to:

  • Reproducing the musical work
  • Reach out to the public regarding the work
  • Perform any music work in the public
  • Make any cinematographic film or sound recording with respect to the music work

Sound recording

The copyright for sound recording includes any kind of recording, irrespective of the storage medium. The song can also include the singer’s voice without music, podcast, or any form of recorded audio. If the recording has audio, you must obtain permission from the music author.

The copyright of sound recording has exclusive rights to:

  • Hire or sell any copy of the sound recording
  • Communicate the sound recording to the general public
  • Create any sound recording that symbolizes the original work

What cannot be copyrighted?


Any shirt, dress, or clothing cannot be copyrighted. Though the copyright law protects the works of visual arts or design work, fashion is all about clothing and accessories, which is considered helpful by the Copyright law. In short, a particular fabric pattern can be copyrighted but not the actual dress.

Choreographic Works

Whether original or not, you cannot copyright choreography unless it is videotaped or recorded in any format. The same rule is applied even to speeches that have not been recorded earlier.

Names, Expressions, Titles, or Short Phrases

Any titles, slogans used for a business, business names, etc., cannot be copyrighted. However, if the business name, title, or expression already belongs to any specific company, it can be copyrighted.

Commonly Known Information

Commonly known information that does not have any specific author or a common property does not come under the copyright. Some examples of widely known information include standard calendars, height, weight charts, etc.

Ideas, Methods, or Systems

Ideas, Methods, or Systems are not covered under the copyright act. It includes scientific methods, mathematical procedures, algorithms, formulas, business procedures or operations, etc.


Copyright Act encourages the creation of works. If the creation is claimed ownership for generations, it can harm society’s progress. Hence, the copyright protection act has a timeline of 60 years. Some countries have even lesser copyright timelines compared to India. It is done to strike a perfect balance between the interest of the community as well as the creators.

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