Software Piracy and Law regarding software piracy - The Copyright Act 1957

Stealing something that did not belong to them is not imaginable to many people. But those who copy software without authorization are stealing someone else's property and they are breaking the law.


Software development involves team effort by programmers, creative artists, writers, graphic artists etc and like most of the creative works like books, music, films etc computer software is protected by copy right laws. Purchasing software only gives right to use it under certain restrictions imposed by the copy right owner or the software publisher. The summary of rules will be mentioned in the document accompanying software license. If someone copy, distribute or install the software in ways that the license prohibits, they are violating copy right law.
 
Penalties for pirating software
Theft of software is a serious matter. If someone's company caught copyright software, the responsible persons or company may be held liable for civil and criminal law.  The software owner can take civil action to stop the person from using the software immediately and can also request for monetary damages. The copy right owner may then choose between actual damages, which include the amount it has lost because of infringement as well as any profit attributable to the infringement, and statutory damages. Using copied or counterfeit software also cause:
 
Exposure to software viruses, corrupt disks, or defective software
No warranties, inadequate or no documentation
No Technical product support available to pirated software users.
Unlike licensed users software up gradation is not possible
 
Responsibility of Software Users
The responsibility of software user is to purchase only legitimate software products and to ensure that while buying software to get disks, manuals and license documentation. Avoid loose or hand labeled disks or software that offered at too low prices. Install and use software according to the license agreement.
 
Software piracy denies the software developers right to revenue and hard the consumers and industry as a whole. A portion of the price spent for purchasing the software will go to research and technology which helps to develop advanced software with new technology.


Legal Provision of copy right law in India
Copyright of computer software is protected under The Copyright Act of 1957. The copy right law was passed in 1957 after the adoption of international treaties and this Act was amended in 1999 to understand what is the copy right terms  Copyright. Various terms are defined under this Act such as copy right adaptation, copy right office, international copy right etc.
 
Terms of Copy right as per The Copyright Act 1957
Section 22 to 29 of the Act provides for the term of copy right. Copyright protection for software with an individual author lasts for the duration of the author's life and continues 60 years after the author's death.
 
Infringement of copyright
If any person without authority, commercially exploit the work for profit, will be infringing the copy right.

Jurisdiction of Courts - Section 62 of the Copyright Act, 1957
A suit of civil proceedings relating to infringement of copy right should be instituted in District Court or High Court within whose jurisdiction the plaintiff resides or carry on business irrespective of the place of residence of the defendant. A suit for infringement must be filed within 3 years of infringement.
 


The following persons can file suit for infringement of copyright
Owner of the copyright or co-owner
The assignee of the copyright
The legatee in case of testamentary of the copyright
An exclusive licensee if the owner of the copyright is made a joint plaintiff or dependant.
In case of anonymous or pseudonymous work the publisher of the work
A non-exclusive licensee provided he join the owner of the copyright.
 
Anton Piller order
In an application filed by the plaintiff, the court in appropriate cases pass an exparte order requiring the defendant to permit the plaintiff accompanied by solicitor or Attorney to enter his premises and take relevant documents and articles and take copies of the safe custody. The necessity for such an order arrives where there is a grave danger of relevant documents and infringing articles being removed or destroyed so that ends of justice will be defeated. Such an order is called in United Kingdom as an Anton Piller Order.
 


Damages or accounts of profit - Section 35 and 58 of The Copyright Act 1957
There are two types of damages available to a successful plaintiff, one under section 35 for infringement and other under section 58 for conversion. The copy right owner is entitled to treat all infringing copies as his work as if they were his own property. The copy right owner can initiate civil proceeding for the recovery of possession thereof in respect of conversion thereof. The plaintiff may also claim special damages for the flagrancy of infringement and as an alternate to damages a successful plaintiff may claim accounts of profits.
 
Criminal Proceedings under section 63-70 of the Copy Right Act 1957
No court inferior to that of a presidency Magistrate or a Magistrate of First Class can try an offence under the Copyright Act. The conduct of the proceedings is governed by the criminal code.
 
The offence of infringement of copy right is punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three years and with fine of Rs. 50000/- which may extend to two lacs. A police officer of the rank sub-inspector and above is given the power to seize without warrant, all infringing copies of the case and accessories for making infringement copies where ever found to be produced before a Magistrate.

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