Comparative Study of Copyright infringements and remedies in India, US and EU

When someone talks about Intellectual Property rights they make it sound like it is the latest development in the protection of creator’s rights. But history suggests otherwise. In 500 BC, Siberian chefs of a Greek colony in Italy were awarded a monopoly for certain kinds of recipes. Intellectual Property is an age-old subject that evolved over time and now with the rise of digital creators, there are new types of infringements, remedies etc. 


With this article, we try to analyze the copyrights of two major countries i.e. India and the US while also covering the EU. All of the three follow the principle of ‘originality’ while conceding the copyright protection to “original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works”.

Infringement – 

In India, when there is any unauthorised use of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, whether of the whole or the substantial part. If a place is permitted for the infringing purpose or a public exhibition is arranged, it will constitute a copyright infringement with the purpose of trade of infringing copies.


In the US, it is quite similar to India when comes to infringement. The violation of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights will constitute infringement. Registration of work is required to file a suit for infringement. 


In the EU, infringement is not defined in the law. It is regarded as an act that intrudes with the rights granted to the owner of copyrighted work under EU directives. And EU has a comparable stand to India on the necessity of registration of work to get copyright protection. 


Secondary Liability –

In India, the copyright law does not mention the terms- ‘indirect’, ‘secondary’, ‘vicarious’ and ‘contributory’ infringement. But, the Copyright Amendment Act, 2012 brought certain amendments to limit the liability of ISPs. The process of “takedown notice” is mentioned in the amended Sections 52(1)(a) and 52(1)(b). The details are laid down in Rule 75 of the Copyright Rules, 2013. 


In the US, there is no clear discussion of secondary liability for infringement. Due to the non-availability of a uniform test in the secondary infringement, federal appellate courts have developed different standards for secondary liability. The copyright owner has to prove that the third party intentionally or knowingly infringed or provided the primary infringer with the means to infringe. 


In the EU, an uneven playing field has been set up due to the different approaches taken at the national level when it comes to secondary liability. Although there are liability privileges in articles 12 to 14 of Directive 2000/31/EC (the e-Commerce Directive) that limit possible national secondary liability.


Civil Remedies – 

In India, 

  • Section 55 of the Copyright Act, 1957, provides civil remedies for copyright infringement, 

Interlocutory Injunctions are the most important remedy as the matter rarely goes beyond the interlocutory stage. The three requirements to get interlocutory injunctions are- a prima facie case, needs to a balance of convenience and there needs to be an irreparable injury. 


                                – Three Pecuniary Remedies are mentioned under Section 55 and 58. Firstly, a  revenue account allows the owner to find the same amount of revenue earned from illegal activity. Secondly, compensatory damages allow copyright holders to claim damages occurred due to infringement. Lastly, conversion damages are assessed based on the value of the item.


                                – These three elements make the Anton Pillar order. First, the order prevents the defendant’s act of destroying the infringing property. Second, allow the plaintiff’s attorney to search and secure the goods. Third, the order requires the respondent to disclose supplier and consumer information.


                                – When there is a delay or any obstruction of execution of a decree passed against the defendant, the court orders the Mareva injunction.              

In the US

  • The copyright owner may apply for a preliminary or permanent injunction to prevent or limit future or ongoing infringement.


  • Courts may order the impounding of infringing goods at any time an action is pending. As part of a final judgment, the court may also order the destruction or any other reasonable disposition of the infringing goods.


  • At any time before a final award, the copyright owner may decide to recover the infringer’s actual damages and profits or legal damages. Legal damages are only available to copyright owners who registered their copyright before the infringement.


  • The court may, in its sole discretion, authorize a party to recover all legal costs, including awarding a reasonable fee to the prevailing party in certain circumstances.

In the EU,

  • Injunctions that aim to prohibit any further infringement by the infringer.


  • Corrective measures, including a recall from the channels of commerce, definitive removal from the channels of commerce and destruction


  • Damages for intentional or negligent infringement.


  • Publication of judicial decisions against an infringer at the request of the copyright holder

Limitation Period – 


In India, the time limit for filing a claim for damages for copyright infringement is three years from the date of such infringement.


In the US, the statute of limitations for civil action for copyright infringement is three years and five years for criminal acts. 


In the EU, each member state has its statute of limitations for bringing civil cases to court.

(INDIA) Takedown Notice –

Rule 75 of the Copyright Rules, 2013 provides that a copyright owner may give written notice to an intermediary who has facilitated forward or incidental storage of the work to provide links to it.

It is important to emphasize that the written notice must contain sufficient information to identify the work, such as the location, i.e. the specific URL from which the work is accessible, the details to determine that the claimant owns the copyright to the content, details not covered by section 52 of the Act or otherwise authorized by the Act, etc.


The complainant must obtain a restraining order within 21 days from a court of competent jurisdiction and if the complainant fails to obtain that order, the mediator may: 

  1. Restore access to deleted content. 
  2. Do not respond to such additional takedowns for the same job at the same location.


(US) Digital Millennium Copyright Act –

In 1998, the United States passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which criminalizes the production and distribution of technologies that attempt to bypass DRM. 


Using the DMCA, copyright owners can submit takedown notices to services or individuals that distribute their copyrighted work and, assuming their copyright has been infringed, the service or individual must comply with the withdrawal request or face legal action.


New EU copyright rules – 

  • Article 17 provides that online content-sharing service providers need to obtain authorisation from rightsholders for the content uploaded on their website. If no authorisation is granted, they need to take steps to avoid unauthorised uploads.


  • The Directive makes it easier for broadcasters to make certain programmes available on their live TV or catch-up services in all Member States while ensuring that creators are adequately paid for the use of their content. It also simplifies the distribution of more radio and TV channels by retransmission operators.


  • The platforms covered by the new rules are considered to be carrying out acts covered by copyright (i.e. performing acts of communication or making available to the public) for which they need to obtain an authorisation from the rightsholders concerned.


  • In situations where there are no licensing agreements concluded with rightsholders, the platforms need to take certain actions if they want to avoid liability. In particular, they need to: (i) make best efforts to obtain an authorisation; (ii) make best efforts to ensure the unavailability of unauthorised content regarding, which rightsholders have provided necessary and relevant information; and (iii) act expeditiously to remove any unauthorised content following a notice received and make also their best efforts to prevent future uploads.

Avoiding Infringement – 

In India

  • Desiring for an infringement-free digital environment is not a practical approach. So, registration of copyright should be on your priority list.  
  • In the event of infringement, the proper notice should be served. And take note of the perpetual infringers. 


In the US

  • Registration of copyright is a must. To discourage infringement, a cease-and-desist notice and other warnings against infringement should be issued. 
  • Record the works with US customs and Border protection to keep infringing copies out of the US market. 
  • Hire specialised people to identify online infringements. 


In the EU,

  • The new digital Singal Market Directive requires online content-sharing service providers to make best efforts to prevent future uploads of works and other subject matter when they have been informed of an act of infringement.
  • This requirement will significantly reduce the number of online copyright infringements.

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