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In the present Digital World, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) awareness is the key to technological innovations and in the emerging economy i.e. based on knowledge; the importance of IPR is likely to go further. In the present article the authors highlight the importance of IPR in the Digital World. This article deals with scope and coverage of various concepts connected with IPR, such as intellectual product, patents, copyright, designs, trademarks, computer software, databases, and internet and cyber laws; copyright issues associated with digital information and protection of digital right.

Keywords: Intellectual Property Rights, Digital World, Information and Communication Technology, Copy Right, Patent, Trademarks and Cryptography.


Intellectual property rights refer to the ownership of intangible goods. It includes ideas, designs, symbols, writings and creations. It also refers to digital media such as audio and video clips that can be downloaded online. Since intellectual property is intangible, if it is stolen, it may be difficult to recover. Intellectual property comes in many forms, including patents, trademarks, copyright, registered designs.[1]

Copyright originated in an age where the expression of the intellectual product in physical form, such as a book. Today the situation is changing, in this information age where digital information can be easily copied at minimal cost this natural physical limitation to unauthorized copying is removed. It is therefore time to reconsider the principle of the copyright model. The purpose of copyright law is to balance the rights of copyright holders and users. Existing copyright law is applicable in the digital age also.


The progress of digital technology has greatly accelerated the dissemination and distribution of information with great speed and accuracy that the world never felt before. It has now become much easier to disseminate  literary, artistic and scientific work to a very large community of internet users and users of electronic media.

Doctrine of Fair Use

Today it is very easy to copy and paste anything from internet. And when something is in public domain and can be freely used, people fall in trap thinking it its legal. The application of the conceptual doctrine of ‘fair use’ has attracted incessant debate. The doctrine is created by judiciary, based upon the principle of equitable and natural justice and to impress upon the owner of the copyright that he has a responsibility towards the society. It is complementary to the concept of ‘compulsory licensing’, which is granted by statute. However, there are certain limitations to the use of the doctrine and owns to prove the justification of using doctrine is assigned to the user.[2]


Cyber Law is a term which refers to all the legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the World Wide Web. Anything that concerns with or related to or emanating from any legal aspects or issues concerning any activity of netizens and others, on Internet in cyber space comes within the ambit of cyber law.[3]

Cyber Theft control of IPR in India:

With increasing importance of IPR, safeguarding it in the digital world against cyber theft is very important. In order to control Cyber Theft of IPR, India has started taking strict measures to curb this offence. Telangana Intellectual Property Crime Unit (TIPCU) is one of the first units that have been launched to deal with the IP crime.[4]

Some of the control measures are:

  • Frequently updating the list of IPs’ that need to be secured.
  • The company can increase the security to access its trade secrets.
  • It can reduce the number of people who can access their trade secrets.
  • Constantly checking for some unusual cyber activities.
  • Constantly educate their employees about cyber security.
  • Company needs to be up to date with software systems.


Intellectual property rights provide the foundation upon which innovation is shared, creativity encouraged and

consumer trust being reinforced. But the digital world poses a threat as to; how to manage the balance when the consumer is the creator, when the marginal cost of copying is nil, when enforcement of existing law is extremely difficult, and when “free” access to information and content is considered by many to be a right and rest lack knowledge in regards to the same.

The provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 are relevant to understand the relationship between copyright protection and information technology in order to safeguard the creator’s rights and punish the wrongdoer.

  1. Section 1(2) read with Section 75 of the Act provides for extraterritorial application of the provisions of the Act. Thus, if a person (including a foreign national) violates the copyright of a person by means of computer, computer system or computer network located in India, he would be liable under the provisions of the Act. [5]
  2. A person violating the copyright of another by downloading or copying the same will have to pay exemplary damages up to the tune of rupees one crore which is deterrent enough to prevent copyright violation.

Thus, if the copyright is violated intentionally and for earning profit, the quantum of damages will be more as compared to innocent infringement.

Indian IPR Law India is a member of both UCC and the Berne Conventions. The GATT negotiations led to agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Right (TRIPS) that included provisions relating to protection of computer software and database under copyright law.[6] The Indian IPR for computer software are covered under the provisions of the Indian Copyright Act 1957. Several amendments to Indian copyright law were introduced in 1994, which came into effect on 10 May 1995 as one of the toughest in the world. For the first time in India, copyright law clearly explained the rights of the copyright holder, the position on software rental, and the rights of users to make backup copies. It imposed heavy punishments and fines for the infringement of software copyright.[7]


The study tells us that in the present digital environment the way of violating copyright has changed.

Traditionally we found that in the past people copied intellectual work to earn money. But in the present time the violator shares information to get hits or likes on their social networking sites or blog post which increases his/her social importance and popularity in the society. For us it is a kind of violation of copyright because nobody has any right to be popular with the help of someone else creativity and hard work.

Digital Rights Management technologies ensure copyright through identifying and protecting the content, controlling access of the work, protecting the integrity of the work and ensuring payment for the access. DRM technologies prevent illegal users in accessing the content. Access is protected through user ID and password, licensing agreements. Another way to protect digital content is through Technical Protection Measures. These technologies allow publishing companies in securing and protecting content such as music, text and video from unauthorized use. If an author wishes to collect fee for use of his or her work, then DRM technology can be used. The TPM and DRM technologies are increasingly employed to sell and distribute content over the Internet.[8]


New business models of delivery of services in the digital world are changing the world for the better, but they also throw up challenges in terms of managing problems relating to them. The fair use of print material by allowing reproduction in a reasonable way for private study, research or education is well understood. But in the context of digital information, because it is distributed to a large society, it is difficult to judge, comprehend “fair use”, access and control the infringement of copyright law. It is almost impossible for a copyright owner to know which person used his/her work. It is also impossible for copyright owner to give permission to use and receive remuneration. In this context it is necessary to modify the copyright law in India from time to time. In an increasingly competitive environment where more and more learning content is digital, institutions need to know how to maximize the value of their own assets as well as how to make the best use of resources they license. They need to be able to share and protect their own intellectual outputs while not infringing the rights of others.


[1] Brian C Reid, A Practical Guide to Patent Law (2nd ed. 2010)

[2] Kamalavijayan, D. (Ed.). (2005). International Conference on Information Management in Knowledge Society. Indian Association of Special Libraries and Information Centres. 1, pp. 188-200. Mumbai: Alied Publishers.



[5] V K Ahuja, Intellectual Property Rights in India, VOL.I, (LexisNexis Butterworths Wadhwa 2012)

[6] Daniel Gervais, The Trips Agreement, Drafting History and Analysis (3rd ed. Sweet & Maxwell 2011)

[7] Halsbury’s Laws of India, Intellectual Property – II vol. 20(2) (5th ed. LexisNexis Butterworths Wadhwa 2006)