Copyright Assignment Agreement Template India

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Deed of Assignment of Copyright


This Packet Includes:

   1. Description

   2. Instructions

   3. Deed of Assignment of Copyright (India)

 General Description

 Deed of Assignment of Copyright


This Deed of Assignment of Copyright is an instrument by where the owner of the copyright of an existing work or the prospective owner of the copyright in a future work may assign to any person the copyright, either wholly or partially, and either generally or subject to limitations, and either for the whole term of the copyright or any part thereof.  In the case of the assignment of copyright in any future work, the assignment shall take effect only when the work comes into existence.

Where the assignee of a copyright becomes entitled to any right comprised in the copyright, the assignee as respects the rights so assigned, and the assignor as respects the rights not assigned, shall be treated for the purposes of the Copyright Act of 1956 as the owner of copyright and the provisions of the Act shall have effect accordingly.


Deed of Assignment of Copyright


   No assignment of the copyright in any work shall be valid unless it is in writing signed by the assignor or by his duly authorised agent.

   The assignment of copyright in any work shall identify such work and shall specify the rights assigned and the duration and territorial extent of such assignment.

   The assignment of copyright in any work shall also specify the amount of royalty payable, if any, to the author or his legal heirs during the currency of the assignment and the assignment shall be subject to revision, extension or termination on terms mutually agreed upon by the parties. 

   Where the assignee does not exercise the rights assigned to him under any of the other subsections of this section within a period of one year from the date of assignment, the assignment in respect of such rights shall be deemed to have lapsed after the expiry of the said period unless otherwise specified in the assignment.

   If the period of assignment is not stated, it shall be deemed to be five years from the date of assignment.

   If the territorial extent of assignment of the rights is not specified, it shall be presumed to extend within India.


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Deed for Assignment of Copyright

THIS DEED OF ASSIGNMENT is made at ________ this _________ day of __________ between Mr./Ms.__________ residing at __________ hereinafter referred to as the “Author” of the One Part and Mr./Ms. _______________ carrying on business at ________ hereinafter referred to as the ‘Publisher’ of the Other Part.

WHEREAS the Author has written/authored a [book/article] entitled ___________ (hereinafter called "the said [book/article]") and desires to publish the same.

WHEREAS the Author is the absolute owner of the copyright in the [book/article]. The copyright is registered with the Registrar of Copyrights in ____________[Mention Place] under the Copyright Act of 1956.

 WHEREAS the Author has agreed to do so in consideration of the Publisher paying him a sum of Rs_________ as lump sum royalty and on the following terms and conditions agreed to between the parties.

NOW THIS DEED WITHNESSETH that pursuant to the said agreement and in consideration of the Publisher paying to the Author a sum of Rs._________ on the execution of the Agreement (receipt whereof the Author does hereby admit), the Author hereby assigns to the Publisher the Copyright in the said [book/article] TO HOLD the same unto the Publisher absolutely throughout India and subject to reservations hereinafter contained:

1. The Publisher acknowledges and undertakes that the said assignment is restricted to publish the said [book/article] in India ONLY and the Publisher shall not without the prior approval in writing of the Author, publish any translation thereof in any other language and shall not allow it to be exploited for converting into a play or any cinematographic film or any television serial.

2. The Publisher warrants to mention in the first edition, all reprints and subsequent editions the name of the Author as author of the [book/article].

3. The Author hereby warrants and represents to the Publisher that:

    The Author is the sole copyright holder of the said [book/article] and he has not assigned the copyright or rights in or given license to use the copyright to anybody else or encumbered the same or done anything so as to prevent him from assigning the said right.

    The Author has the right or the power to enter into this deed.

    That the said [book/article] does not contain any material of defamatory, obscene, indecent, libelous or otherwise unlawful nature; and

    That the contents of the current edition of the said [book/article] are the original work of the Author and do not constitute breach of copyright vesting in any other person/s. Where limited extracts have been taken from other published or unpublished works in which copyright vests in other person/s proper acknowledgement has been made in the [book/article].

    That if the Publisher requires any other person/s to assist the Author in preparing subsequent editions of the [book/article] the names of those persons will also be mentioned as joint author/s of the [book/article]. And the Author will do and execute such other acts or deeds, if required, to confer entire copyright in the said [book/article] and as hereby assigned as may be necessary.

    [The Author has obtained the necessary permission from the copyright holder/s to reproduce in the article, in all media in all countries, any materials including tables, diagrams or photographs not owned by me/us. (Please attach any permission documents)]

    The said [book/article] has not been published before and is not being considered for publication elsewhere in its final form either in printed or electronic form

    That he will not publish either himself or through any other publisher an abridgment of the said [book/article] or any other [book/article] on the same subject and which would be competing with the [book/article] or get it published by any other person so long as the said [book/article] which is the subject matter of the present is being published by the Publisher and sold in the market.

    That the Publisher shall have the right to get the second and subsequent editions of the [book/article] prepared by either the Author or any other person of the Publisher’s choice. If the Publisher requires the Author to prepare the second or any subsequent edition, the Author undertakes that he will re-edit the said [book/article] at the time of publishing second edition thereof and to make it up-to-date when required by the Publisher. In case of Authors failure to do so, the Publisher will be entitled to get the [book/article] re-edited, enlarged or abridged through some other Author of the Publisher’s choice. For the said re-editing, the Publisher will pay to the Author the sum of Rs. __________/-.  The Author shall complete the re-editing within _________ months of being asked to do so by the Publisher.

4. The Author hereby agrees to:

    Indemnify and keep indemnified the Publisher against all claims, proceedings, costs and damages incurred or suffered or awarded or paid in respect of or arising out of any breach or non performance of any of the warranties on the part of the Author hereinbefore given or out of any claim by a third party based on facts, which if substantiated would constitute a breach or non-performance of such warranties.

    The Publisher shall have full right to assign the said copyright to publish the [book/article] in any part of India, to any person.

5. Permit the Author to take ___________ copies of the [book/article] on publication free of cost.

6. In the event of any dispute or difference between the parties hereto arising out of or in connection with this deed of whatsoever nature the same shall be referred to arbitration of a common arbitrator if agreed upon, failing which to two Arbitrators one to be appointed by each party to the Arbitration. The said Arbitrators shall appoint a presiding Arbitrator and the Arbitration shall be governed by the Arbitration Act and Conciliation Act, 1996, or any statutory modification thereof.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the Assignor has put his hand the day and year hereinabove written.

Signed and delivered by the                    )

Within named Assignor Mr. __________)

In the presence of........                             )

There have been too many copyright issues in the recent times, either between the producer or the director of the film with regard to ownership of copyright or between say, a scriptwriter and the director. This got me thinking about the rights of the different people who contribute toward making a movie, well a complete movie. There is the music composer, the lyricist, the sound recorder, the record label company to name a few who are individuals who come up with creative ideas and turn them into their works. These people mostly either assign or license the rights that subsist in their work to the producer in return for a royalty. However, it isn’t as easy as it seems to be. There are many questions that arise at the time of assignment and especially after it, questions involving moral rights and future rights and the like. Well, time to find out the answers!

Transfer of copyright:

All of us are aware that the first author of the work is the owner of the work unless he assigns someone else to be the owner for a specific thing (assigning your work to be used in movies) and for a specific period of time. The owner of the copyright in an existing work may assign his work to any person the copyright either wholly or partly either for the whole term of the copyright or part of the term.

Transfer of future copyright:

Section 18(1) of the Copyright Act also says that the any prospective owner of a future work may assign his copyright. However, the recent amendment of 2012 made it amply clear that such an assignment will not extend to those mediums or modes of exploitation which did not exist at the time of the assignment. Modes of exploitation constantly keep changing due to scientific developments. As in, in the earlier days there used to be only video cassette recorders which were played and now there is MP3 players, iPods and other music players that exist. Similarly, we cannot foresee the technological developments that are yet to come and therefore, the assignment of copyright that is made today will only cover those modes of exploitation that are available today.

This new piece of legislation has come as a relief to the authors as it strengthens their position is new modes of exploitation of their work come into existence.

Mode of assignment:

Section 19 of the Act clearly lays down the requirements to assign a copyright. They are as follows:

  1. Unless the assignment is in writing and is signed by the assignor, the agreement will not be valid;
  2. The rights assigned along with duration and territorial extent must be clearly established;
  3. The amount of royalty or any other consideration payable must be clearly specified;
  4. It is to be noted that if the assignee fails to exercise the rights assigned to him within one year of the date of assignment, then such assignment shall be deemed to have lapsed unless  there is some provision to the contrary in the agreement;
  5. If the period of assignment is not mentioned, then it shall be for 5 years;
  6. Similarly, if the territorial extent is not mentioned, it shall be presumed to extend within India;
Amendment of 2012 to Section 19:

Three clauses have been added with respect to assignment to Section 19 which basically says that royalty has to be paid to the authors whose work has been exploited in a cinematographic film other than by way of exhibition of the film in a cinema hall. This simply means that the authors are entitled to the subsequent royalties which may arise in the course of further exploitation of the film which includes their work. For example, they will also be entitled to royalty for satellite right, home video, internet right etc. This again strengthens the position of the authors of the work are the actual owners of anything apart from their work in the cinematographic film. The second clause that has been added is for sound recording and is the same as above.

What the authors can do is register their work with a copyright society and thereafter license it to whoever they like.

Moral rights

A creator of any work has the right to claim authorship of the work and claim damages in case of any distortion, mutilation or modification caused to his work and such an act should have been done before the expiration of the term of assignment is such an act will cause harm to his goodwill.

It is to be noted that moral rights are independent of the author’s copyright and moral rights remain with the author even if he has assigned his copyright.

So what should be learnt from the recent news on various copyright assignment issues is that while assigning your rights, it is rather important that you clearly lay down the specific right which you are assigning in order to eliminate the chances of confusion being caused. The amendment of 2012 has played a very important role in strengthening the earlier weak position of authors of works with respect to assignments. Because if someone wants to benefit from their own labour and skill, they should be able to do so without constantly fearing of getting crushed by the giants!

This article has been authored by Durga Bhatt, an IP Law practitioner.

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Editorial Staff at Selvam and Selvam is a team of Lawyers, Interns and Staff with expertise in Intellectual Property Rights led by Raja Selvam.

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