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Intellectual Property Rights in the Entertainment Industry

Intellectual property refers to mind creations such as literary, artistic, and musical works, as well as scientific inventions, words, designs, and symbols. Individuals are granted intellectual property


Intellectual property refers to mind creations such as literary, artistic, and musical works, as well as scientific inventions, words, designs, and symbols. Individuals are granted intellectual property rights over their creative works. They often provide the creator with exclusive rights to use their creativity for a specified period. Intellectual property rights consist of copyright, trademark, patent, logos, trade names, and design rights. These rights, on the other hand, have made significant contributions to the world economy. Intellectual property is intangible property. Understanding the importance of intellectual property rights in this field is essential due to the massive growth of the media and entertainment sectors. Over the last few years, the Indian media and broadcasting sectors have grown considerably. As a major source of entertainment and information, it plays a very significant role in our lives. Keeping up with world events through films fascinates us. From one corner of the world, we can know the happenings in another part of the world through the media. Furthermore, we can access any information or watch a film anywhere at any time. Media is such a vast field that plays such an influential role in our lives that it needs a certain amount of protection for the work of its people.

The two most significant intellectual property rights in this industry are copyright and trademark. Copyright provides protection against content infringement as well as acknowledgment of the creators’ rights. Copyright applies to songs, dramas, movies, works of artists, literature, and even some choreographic works. A trademark protects film titles, characters, and other aspects of the film. However, as the industry grows, so does the issue of infringing on intellectual property rights, cyber laws, copyright, and trademarks. The legislative and judicial systems encourage innovation by ensuring its free distribution while continually attempting to prevent its exploitation. With increased development, new creators on the rise, and rapid technological advancements, intellectual property protection and enforcement have become increasingly critical in media and entertainment. Several critical challenges concerning this sector have emerged in India. Copyright and trademark rights play an active role in safeguarding IP rights in the sector. Even before independence, India had copyright and trademark statutes, which have been modified as time progressed. Where the law has been uncertain, Indian courts have repeatedly filled the void. In comparison to patents, copyright and trademark rights have been well protected and enforced.

The following laws protect the media and entertainment industries:

Role of Copyright Law:

According to WIPO, “Copyright (or author’s right) is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.”

As per Section 14, the term “copyright” is described and reiterated as “the exclusive right which the owner has over his material or work. It also includes the authority to do or authorize any other person to perform particular tasks in a work.” Copyright protects literary, musical, artistic, and dramatic works such as movies, songs, poetry, novels, and publications.

Copyright in the media and entertainment industries refers to the ownership of the original work. Copyright is a statutory framework that permits the media and entertainment sectors to safeguard creative works that are solely owned by the creator. However, the scope of copyright protection cannot be restricted to an idea. The work must exist in a tangible form to be eligible for the protection of copyright law.

The lack of copyright in work is a big setback for the creator who has spent time and effort producing the content. Considering the fierce competition in the entertainment sector, it is now more critical than ever to protect the creator’s original material. The person or creator who has invested time and attention into creating the material suffers a significant loss because of the lack of copyrighted work. Because intellectual property infringement is so common nowadays, copyright registration has become a must for avoiding infringement. Previous rulings suggest that registration is required to carry out civil and criminal sanctions in the instance of violation. It makes it even easier for the petitioner to obtain a speedy settlement in the event of a legal issue. If the original work of any individual is infringed in India, then the person who infringed will be punishable under Section 63 of the Copyright Act, 1957.

Role of trademark:

According to WIPO“A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks are protected by intellectual property rights.”

Trademarks are designs, symbols, expressions, or signs used to differentiate one person’s goods or services from those of another. The Trademark Act of 1999 protects the names of movies, song titles, photographs, albums of singers, and well-known figures, subject to certain limits. The title must be unique and innovative; otherwise, it is difficult to be protected if it is common in nature. Trademarks are mostly used in the entertainment business. The movie studios rely on trademarks to develop a separate identity and to differentiate themselves in the market. The film industry is not immune to legal difficulties such as deceptive song titles, illegal use of movie names, etc. The Trademark Act, on the other hand, provides remedies for trademark infringement.

Celebrity Rights:  

The entertainment sector is heavily reliant on celebrity rights, and such rights form a significant part of it. Celebrities have the right to benefit from their status. They often provide their voices and appearances to commercial and non-commercial entities to promote their identity. However, there have been cases where a celebrity’s identity has been utilized without their permission. This exposes them to the privacy issues and abuse that they encounter in exchange for monetary benefits. In India, copyright and trademark play a significant role in protecting celebrity rights by functioning as a shield and guard. The term “celebrity” is not defined in the Copyright Act. It is protected under Section 38 of the Act, which guarantees a performer’s right to any performer for a term of fifty years concerning his performance. On various occasions, courts have made significant judgments concerning celebrities’ rights from time to time. Copyright protects photographs, publications, and any other reproductions of celebrities. The court has also expanded the protection to include fictional characters. However, it should be remembered that the celebrity’s name or image does not have copyright protection in India.


Intellectual property plays an important role in keeping the media and entertainment industry running smoothly without any problems. In the media and entertainment industry, the work of authors and artists needs to be protected after they have been created. Intellectual property laws, particularly copyright and trademarks, have always played a crucial role in safeguarding innovative minds. Copyright law safeguards the author’s literary work against unauthorized commercial use or exploitation. On the other hand, any marks, goods, or services are protected by trademark law. The laws provide the necessary safeguards, preventing the misuse of their work and encouraging corporate growth. The protection of intellectual property secures original ideas and creations and accelerates the growth of the business. Intellectual property is becoming more significant in the digital era. As more content is posted to the internet, issues such as copyright piracy are becoming more common. Authors and artists must protect their work after they have developed it to safeguard it from being abused by others. The role of intellectual property law enters the picture at this point, which has been carried out to the greatest extent possible since its beginnings. It has been updated from time to time to address difficulties about the creator’s rights in the current period. The production of movies, music, TV serials, and OTT platforms such as Amazon or Netflix series involves many people, including directors, actors, makeup artists, screenwriters, producers, cameramen, etc. Such a role of protection can only be fulfilled by Intellectual Property in the media and entertainment industry. Various legal challenges in these areas are being presented to Indian courts, and the Indian judiciary appears to be up to the task of handling such issues. The sector can be anticipated to be well-prepared to deal with further difficulties when they arise in the future. 

Author(s) Name: Simran Chaudhari (Mumbai University)