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COPYRIGHTS FOR ARTISTIC FREEDOM

INTRODUCTION

Copyright is intended to facilitate the free expression engine, enabling an individual to own the rights to their original creative or literary works. We all understand that the Constitution’s protection of the right to free expression makes it difficult to utilize that right to benefit financially from works that are not original or have been repeated originally.[1] When it comes to the reuse of copyrighted content in the context of derivative works, many jurisdictions have varied rules.[2] In this blog, it is discussed how the Copyright Law restricts artistic freedom and how it relates to the Indian Constitution.

WHAT ARE COPYRIGHTS?

The legal word “copyright” (sometimes known as “author’s right”) is used to refer to the ownership rights that authors and other artists have over their creative works. The types of works protected by copyright include computer programmes, databases, ads, maps, and technical drawings in addition to books, music, paintings, sculptures, and films.[3] Artists who have produced works with a certain level of inventiveness are granted several rights under copyright rules. The production of knowledge that uniquely uses those facts or ideas is what is protected by copyright, not the facts or ideas themselves. The rights relating to art or work may appear straightforward at first look, but this is untrue since the way and form in which the work is expressed decides whether it has the legal authority to be considered faulty or not.

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY ARTISTIC FREEDOM?

Article 19 (1) (a) and Article 19 (2) of the constitution, which also lays out the constraints on such freedoms, both mention the right to freedom of speech and expression.[4] In the Berubari Union case, the court stressed the significance of the Constitution’s Preamble and ruled that it was the key to understanding the thoughts of the document’s writers.[5] Therefore, the Preamble emphasizes protecting the citizens’ freedom of expression, belief, and religion. Because it unites us all without limits due to borders or barriers, creative freedom of expression challenges us and alters the way we perceive the world.[6]

HOW ARE COPYRIGHTS INVOLVED IN ARTISTIC FREEDOM?

The connection between artistic freedom and copyright is equivocal. Without copyright law, creators could fear that their works would be duplicated or reproduced. Copyright law can benefit creators and preserve their artistic expression for their work.[7] However, as copyright laws prohibit the unrestricted use of works protected by them, they can also impose restrictions on the right to free expression[8]. The notion of validity or moral legitimacy may be questioned as technology advances and copyright is enforced.

The connection between artistic freedom and copyright is equivocal. Without copyright law, creators could fear that their works would be duplicated or reproduced. [9]Copyright law can benefit creators and preserve their artistic expression for their work. However, as copyright laws prohibit the unrestricted use of works protected by them, they can also impose restrictions on the right to free expression.[10] The notion of validity or moral legitimacy may be questioned as technology advances and copyright is enforced.

Although permission from the original work’s copyright owner is required when an author needs to utilize the expression of prior work, the issue might become complicated or unmanageable since it is not always simple to hunt down the owners. As privatized entities or people have the power to decide whether a work may be produced or not as well as to obstruct its circulation or dissemination, copyrighted works primarily result in a condition of private censorship. Therefore, it’s critical to recognize and distinguish between copyrighted works that are entirely copied and plagiarised, as opposed to those that are just based on someone else’s or some other source’s earlier work and then fully reworked.[11]

CASES WHICH ENCOURAGE ARTISTIC FREEDOM?

PK FILM CASE

Ajay Gautam filed a suit against the Union of India asking for the film PK to be banned. It was decided that to determine one’s freedom of expression and speech, one must have the right to facts, knowledge, communication, beliefs, theories, drama, theatre, dance, reception of ideas, music, film, information, and creative and emotive impulses through spoken word or written word, through a newspaper, magazine, or book. These rights cannot be quashed.[12]

EMPHASIS ON DEMOCRACY BY THE WAY OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

The importance of freedom of speech and expression was highlighted by Justice Bhagwati in the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India by highlighting the fact that democracy is fundamentally based on open discussion and the free exchange of ideas. Therefore, every citizen must have the right to participate in the democratic process if democracy is defined as “government of the people, by the people,” and free and open discussion of public issues is crucial to allow each citizen to exercise his or her right to vote in an informed manner.[13]

CONCLUSION

It’s true that finding a balance between protecting artists and affording them creative freedom in copyright laws is challenging. It is unknown if such balance can be attained, and as technology develops, it may appear possible in the future but has not yet materialized.[14]Regarding what shouldn’t be tried for copyright infringement, there is a specific technique to classify every work of art[15]. In a copyright infringement lawsuit, the judges often take into account the following four factors:

  1. The exact quantity of content utilized
  2. The characteristics of the protected work
  3. The nature and aim of the usage of the copyrighted work and
  4. The usage’s impact on the prospective market

Every person should be able to participate in and influence the society they live in because artistic freedom in the digital realm functions as a system and infrastructure.[16] Human rights and copyright are crucial for any society’s development. It is not something that should be disregarded, and the crucial thing to accomplish right now is to find a way for copyright and human rights to coexist in harmony.[17]

Author(s) Name: Vinay Shettigar (BMS College of Law)

References:

[1]Cristophe Geiger, <Freedom of Artistic Creativity and Copyright Law: A Compatible Combination? > (2018) accessed on 18th June 2022

[2] Ibid

[3]Under tab “What is Copyright” <Copyright (wipo.int)? accessed on 19th June 2022

[4] The Constitution of India, 2015, s 19

[5] The Berubari Union, AIR 1960 SC 845

[6] Carina Ashkar, (2017), <Copyright vs. Freedom of Expression | > accessed on 20th June 2022

[7] Cristophe Geiger, FREEDOM OF ARTISTIC CREATIVITY AND COPYRIGHT LAW: A COMPATIBLE COMBINATION? (2017)

[8] Ibid

[9] Alexander, L., Is there a Right of Freedom of Expression? (2005) Cambridge: Cambridge: University Press.

[10] Ibid

[11] Carina Ashkar, (2017), <Copyright vs. Freedom of Expression | > accessed on 20th June 2022

[12] Ajay Gautam v Union of India, AIR 2005 Del. 92

[13] Maneka Gandhi v Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 597

[14] <The balance between creative freedom and protecting copyright (worldipreview.com)> accessed on 23rd June 2022

[15] Carina Ashkar, (2017), <Copyright vs. Freedom of Expression | > accessed on 20th June 2022

[16] Ibid

[17] Archa Vashishtha, Interface between copyright and human rights <14.pdf (du.ac.in)> accessed on 23rd June 2022