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What is Copyright Transfer: A Complete Guide


Copyright is an intellectual property right that offers literary and artistic work creators rights. The Copyright prevents others from misusing the work in various ways without their knowledge or permission. An exclusive right to use and spread their original work is given to the creators by legal protection, which is known as Copyright.

Section 13 of the Copyrights Act 1957 Provides Copyright protection to literary works, dramatic works, musical works, sound recordings and cinematographic films, among others. At the same time, Section 14 of the Act grants the Copyright owner exclusive rights, such as adapting, reproducing, publishing, translating, and communicating the work to the public.

In today’s digitally connected world, many businesses and companies seek to utilize the properties (software or Copyright) for their betterment, so they must ensure that the seller possesses rightful ownership of the chosen assets. The upcoming contents will provide a complete guide regarding the Copyright Transfer.

Copyright Transfer

Copyright transfer refers to transferring the exclusive right to any individual or third party from the owner of such Copyright. By transferring Copyrights, the delegate will enjoy all the rights associated with the Copyright of the mentioned work. Under section 14 of the Act discussed above, the owner of the copyrighted work has been given the right to transfer the work. According to the Indian Copyright Act of 1957, a prospective copyright owner of a future work may also assign his rights partially or wholly to a third party through Copyright.

In the unfortunate event of the assignee’s demise before the work is created, the legal representatives of the assignee are entitled to the benefits of the copyright transfer.

Ways to Commence Copyright Transfer

Initiating a copyright transfer in India is the process through which the creator and authors can grant their rights to third parties for mutual benefit. These rights include exclusive control over the use of such work, its distribution, reproduction, and publication throughout India. Understanding the different methods of affecting a copyright transfer is essential for creators and recipients.

The Copyright exists with the original owner or author of the work for the entire span of his lifetime plus sixty years from his death. As discussed below, the rights can be transferred at any point within this duration. Section 19 of the mentioned Act deals with the mode of Copyright transfer.

1. Copyright Licensing

Copyright licensing deals with the transfer of complete or partial rights of a Copyright owner. The Licensing Agreement should be signed by both parties with their consent. The main aim is to qualify the licensee to utilize the copyrighted work for financial benefits and share the same with the owner.

Types of Copyright Licenses

The Copyright License can be voluntary or compulsory, as explained below.

Voluntary License:

A Voluntary License is voluntarily signed by two parties, the licensor and licensee. It contains the following details.

  • Rights authorized and nature of the work.
  • Geographical degree of the license.
  • Agreements connecting with the termination, revision, and extension of the license.
  • Total sum of amount to be paid in return of the permit

Compulsory License:

The Copyright Board will give the necessary permit to the outsiders without the consent of the Copyright proprietor when such proprietor won’t make the work accessible in open space.

2. Copyright Assignment

The Copyright Assignment mechanism allows a protected work’s proprietor to give privileges to another individual. The Assignment permits the chosen individual to practice the selective freedoms related to the Copyright, such as reproducing, distributing, and publicly displaying the copyrighted work.

To relegate a copyright, an Assignment Agreement must be endorsed between the assignor and the assignee and drafted correctly.

  • The terms & conditions regarding the revision and termination of the Assignment should be clearly explained.
  • The total amount of royalty paid for the Assignment should be mentioned.
  • The copyrighted work and the rights assigned should be mentioned clearly.
  • The copyright owner (assignor) should write and execute the assignment agreement.
  • If the Assignment term is not mentioned, it can be considered five years from the date of Assignment by default. If the geographical limit is not stated, then it is assumed to the extent within India.

3. Copyright Transmission

If the original author working on a manuscript of dramatic, literary, artistic, or musical work dies, the rights will be transferred to the individual specified in the deceased’s will.

4. Copyright Relinquishment

Copyright relinquishment refers to the intentional surrender or abandonment of all or explicit rights vested in the creator of a protected work. The proprietor of such Copyright should notify the Registrar of Copyrights in the endorsed structure. When the registrar gets the notification, he will distribute such notification in the authority Periodical or, in all likelihood, he can distribute it as he considers fit.

5. Copyright Transfer by Operational Law

Suppose there is a will; ownership transfers to the personal owner’s representative upon death. As per section 20 of the mentioned Act, the transfer of Copyright by operation of law in the event of the Copyright owner’s demise is discussed below.

1. Copyright Passing to Personal Representative

If no will is executed, the copyright is passed to the person’s representative as part of their estate.

2. Inheritance of Copyright under Bequest

If an individual is entitled to Copyright through a bequest (inheritance) and the work has not been published before the testator’s death, the Copyright shall be considered to have been transferred to that individual. This assumes that the testator was the Copyright owner immediately before their demise.

This also ensures a smooth transition of copyright ownership in the case of the original owner’s death.


Copyright transfer plays a crucial role in intellectual property rights, especially for the creators of the work. The Copyright Act of 1957 provides various provisions regarding intellectual property. Copyright transfer refers to the process by which the copyright owner, typically the creator of a creative work, transfers their exclusive rights to another individual or entity while the Copyright is still in its validity period.

We hope our article regarding copyright transfer was informative and valuable, as it is provided in a simple way that can be understood. Also, we provide the information that meets your expectations, and experts offer all this information for your guidance to enhance the reputation. Contact  executives for further requirements.

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G.Durghasree B.A.B.L (Hons)

G Durghasree B.A.B.L (Hons) is a registered trademark attorney with extensive experience as an Advocate for a period of 8 years. She possesses expertise in trademark law, including trademark filing and trademark hearings. Additionally, she is skilled in contract drafting and reviewing, providing legal advice and opinions, particularly in the areas of Company Law, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), and Goods and Service Tax Law (GST). Her experience encompasses both litigation and non-litigation aspects of these laws.