Issues of Copyright in Digital Era

In India, copyright in the digital era is governed by the Copyright Act of 1957, which has been revised multiple times to cope up with evolving technology and the digital environment. The Act protects a variety of works, including literary, dramatic, musical, and creative works, in addition to computer programmes and databases.

What are Copyright Issues in Digital Era?

The issue of copyright has gotten increasingly complex and difficult in the digital age. Given the broad availability of digital technologies, copying, distributing, and manipulating digital content is now easier than ever. This has resulted in several copyright difficulties, such as piracy, infringement, and the unlawful use of protected materials.

Following are some of the most important copyright issues in the digital age −

  • Piracy is one of the most important problems in the digital age. It involves the illicit duplication and distribution of copy-protected works, such as music, films, software, and books. In many parts of the world, particularly in developing nations where copyright rules are not effectively enforced, piracy is widespread.

  • Infringement occurs when someone utilises copyrighted content without authorization or credit. This includes the use of copyrighted photos or videos on a website, the use of copyrighted music in a video or podcast, and the sale of products with copyrighted images or logos.

  • Fair Use is a legal doctrine that permits the use of copyrighted materials for specific purposes, including commentary, criticism, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Yet, the notion of fair use is frequently open to interpretation, and it can be challenging to evaluate whether a specific use of copyrighted material qualifies as fair use.

  • Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a set of technologies used to prevent unauthorised duplication and distribution of copy-protected content. Nonetheless, DRM has been criticised for restricting users' legal and fair use of copy-protected content, such as generating backup copies of digital content.

  • Copyright rules vary greatly from country to country, making it difficult to enforce copyright laws in the digital age. This has resulted in several worldwide copyright infringement lawsuits, especially in the music and film industries.

Feasible Solutions to Address this Problem

The issue of copyright in the digital age is difficult and multidimensional, but there are a number of potential solutions that could help content creators, consumers, and regulators overcome their challenges. Here are some possible solutions −

  • Improving the implementation of copyright rules is one of the most effective strategies to combat copyright violations in the digital age. This may involve increasing fines for copyright violations, widening the extent of copyright protection, easy and timely legal procedure to hear the cases, and enhancing international cooperation on copyright enforcement.

  • Education and awareness: Another solution is to raise consumer, content provider, and policymaker education and understanding of copyright concerns. These may involve public awareness campaigns, instructional resources for content creators, and policymaker training on copyright law and its influence on the digital economy.

  • Creating new business models: In the digital age, traditional economic strategies for content delivery may no longer be effective. To address this issue, new business models that facilitate consumers' legal and affordable access to digital material could be established. Examples include subscription-based models such as Netflix and Spotify, as well as pay-what-you-wish models such as Humble Bundle.

  • Technical solutions such as Digital Rights Management (DRM) can help protect copyrighted content from unlawful usage, but they are sometimes criticised for being unduly restrictive. It is possible to build new technologies that strike a better balance between copyright protection and the legal and ethical usage of copyrighted materials.

  • Copyright laws and enforcement procedures differ greatly from country to country, making it difficult to handle copyright concerns on a worldwide scale without international cooperation. International collaboration and coordination could facilitate the establishment of uniform copyright protection and enforcement standards.

Case Law

The most prominent case laws pertaining to copyright in the digital age in India are −

  • (2018)Tips Industries Ltd. v. Wynk Music Ltd − In this case, the Bombay High Court ruled that music streaming sites such as Wynk Music must get a licence from copyright owners prior to streaming their works, even if they have a statutory licence from the copyright society.

  • (2011)MySpace Inc. v. Super Cassette Industries Ltd − In this case, the Delhi High Court determined that the social networking website MySpace was liable for copyright infringement for hosting and distributing copyrighted works without the owner's permission.

  • Super Cassette Industries Ltd. (2008) − Entertainment Network (India) Ltd. v. Super Cassette Industries Ltd. In this case, the Bombay High Court ruled that FM radio stations that transmit music must seek a separate permission for each song played, even if they hold a copyright society licence.

These cases illustrate the significance of taking prior permission or licences for the use of copyrighted works in the digital age, as well as the potential repercussions of failing to do so.


Copyright in the digital era is a dynamic problem that brings new issues and opportunities for artists, users, and regulators. While digital technologies have facilitated the creation, sharing, and distribution of works, they have also facilitated the violation of copyright owners' rights.

Further, it has to be understood that tackling copyright concerns in the digital age necessitates a multidimensional strategy that includes improving copyright laws, expanding education and awareness, developing new business models, investigating technology solutions, and fostering international collaboration. Content creators, consumers, and governments may ensure that copyright law remains effective and relevant in the digital age by cooperating.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. In the digital age, what categories of works are covered by copyright?

Ans. Literature, music, art, software, and other kinds of creative expression that may be saved and transferred digitally are protected by copyright in the digital age.

Q2. What exclusive rights does copyright confer in the digital age?

Ans. In the digital era, copyright grants the right to create, reproduce, distribute, exhibit, and perform the work, as well as the right to create derivative works based on the original.

Q3. Can I utilise the digital work of another without permission?

Ans. No, no one can use another person's digital work without their permission unless the use falls under fair use or another copyright law exception. The unauthorised use of another person's work may constitute copyright infringement.

Q4. How do I safeguard my digital works under copyright laws?

Ans. Under copyright law, you can protect your own digital works by registering your work with the proper copyright office, adding a copyright notice on your work, and defending your rights if someone violates them.

Q5. How does copyright law apply to social media and other digital platforms?

Ans. Copyright law applies to social media platforms in the same manner as it does to other forms of digital work. To use someone else's copyrighted work on social media, users are normally needed to get permission or a licence.

Q6. What role does the DMCA have in copyright law?

Ans. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) offers legal protection for digital works and creates mechanisms for resolving online copyright infringement. The DMCA contains a safe harbour provision that shields internet service providers from liability for their users' behaviour.

Updated on: 13-Apr-2023

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