Understanding different types of copyright in India

Published On: Apr 13, 2023Last Updated: Apr 15, 20235.6 min read

Copyright is basically the right to create copies of original creative works. Since an artist can express their creativity in many forms, there are various types of copyright. The reason behind this is the fact that each type of work in copyright has a different set of rights associated with it. Even the documents and fees for copyright registration depend on the type of copyright you are opting for. As a result, it becomes very important to understand the different types of copyright. Once you know the type applicable, you can register a copyright in India.  

Work, as defined in the Copyright Act 1957 means any of the following: 

  • a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work; 
  • a cinematograph film; and 
  • a sound recording. 

The definition of work in itself provides the broad categorisation of the types of copyright. However, there are many aspects of each of these types, which we cover through this article.

Types of copyright in India

As the author of any original creative work, you need to know which type of copyright covers your work. Besides, you need to send copies of your work in a physical format as a part of the copyright registration process. The different types of copyright in India are as below, to help you understand which category your work falls under. 

Protect your copyright!
We will help you understand which type of copyright is applicable to you.

Literary work

Literary work is the most common type of copyright. It generally covers all original written expressions of ideas. It entitles the authors/owners of all literary works to certain economic rights, which helps them in claiming royalty from the publishers, if any. A few copyright examples of literary works are as below: 

  • Books,
  • Poems,
  • Scripts,
  • Novels, 
  • Biographies, 
  • Thesis,
  • Exam question papers; 
  • Computer programs, (source code having the set of commands); and 
  • more.

All literary types of copyright must be original, and the ownership of it should be clear before any person opts for the registration of copyright. Read more about the importance of copyright for literary works.

Dramatic types of work protected by copyright

Dramatic works in the types of copyright are the performance or preparation of performance based on a plot. Staging in a drama, a play, a recitation, choreography work, and acting based on a book, mimes, screenplays, etc are copyright examples of dramatic works. 

However, it is important to consider the fact that certain aspects of a dramatic works also include other types of copyright protection. 

Dramatic work copyright example: 

X created a drama named “Tiny Dancer”. This drama is more of a musical and has numerous dances and songs. X decides to protect every aspect of this work. He decides to call legalwiz.in and ask for suggestions as to which types of copyright apply to him. 

Here, our experts at IPR will suggest to X that : 

  1. The script of his play is a literary work; 
  2. The performance/choreography part is a type of dramatic work; and 
  3. Lastly, the song is a musical work/sound recording, on the basis of its composition. 

Artistic work

Today, art galleries sell authentic paintings for millions. If an artist has a copyright registered for their artwork, they can claim profits from sales. Amongst the various types of copyright, artistic works include the following copyright examples: 

  • Paintings, 
  • Graphic work; 
  • Sculpture; 
  • Drawings; 
  • Photos; 
  • Print;
  • Lithographs;
  • Architectural plans; 
  • Maps; 
  • Memes;
  • Blueprints; 
  • cartoons;
  • And more. 

When going forward with the application for this type of copyright, you need to comply with section 45 of the Act. This section states that artistic works which are used/proposed to be used in respect of any goods/services, need a no objection clearance from the Registrar of Trademarks. 

For example, you have created a unique cartoon character, which is an artistic work amongst the types of copyright. However, you plan to use the cartoon character on t-shirts (which will be sold commercially). In this case, you will fall under the ambit of section 45 of the Act.  You can contact us to file your TM-C today!

Musical work

The right in this type of copyright protects music and any graphical notations of a musical work. However, it does not include any words, any lyrics, or any action which will be performed with the music. Hence, the lyrics and sound are not covered in musical work. Musical Work too is an inherent right amongst the types of copyright. 

Sound recording

This type of copyright includes any recording of a sound in any medium. Here, no music is covered. The following are valid copyright examples of a sound recording: 

  • A song recording (includes the singer’s voice but not the music); 
  • A podcast; and
  • Any recorded audio. 

Cinematograph film

A cinematograph film is the most expensive type of copyright. A cinematograph film means a film created with a lot of pictures that will produce a sort of movement on the screen. I.e., video recordings. The following are included in this type: 

  • Movies; 
  • Vlogs; 
  • Youtube videos; 
  • Recordings of a video game; 
  • Animations; 
  • And more. 


It is evident from the various types of copyrights that these rights are connected. Hence, it becomes very important to understand the type of copyright applicable to you. Here’s when Legalwiz.in comes into the picture! We will not only file your application, but we will also assist you in selecting the most appropriate type, based on your work. Lastly, we will help you understand how to check copyright status in India.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, a youtube video can be registered as a copyright under a cinematograph film. You can do it as long as the video is an original and unique work.

Yes, different aspects are covered in various types of copyright. The characters are artistic works, the source code is computer software, the tune is a musical work, etc.

An AI (artificial intelligence) cannot be the sole owner of a copyright. Hence, such artwork is not copyrightable. However, if joint ownership between a human and an AI is found in any application, it can be registered as a copyright. 

No. A meme, if original, falls under the ambit of artistic works in copyright. Hence, a meme cannot be a trademark, but it can be registered as a copyright.

No. you cannot claim a copyright on an idea. Copyright law only protects the expression of an idea, in any creative form.

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Diksha Shastri
About the Author

Diksha Shastri

As a writer, Diksha aims to make complex legal subjects easier to comprehend for all. As a Lawyer, she assists startups with their legal and IPR drafting requirements. To understand and further spread awareness about the startup ecosystem is her motto.

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