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A cinematographic film is generally based on an already existing script or a script writer is hired to write one. In either case, film producers should be alert in protecting their copyright in the entertainment industry and retaining the ownership over the copyright of a script that forms the very foundation of their work.

Plagiarism Check

When a promising script is shared with the producer of a cinematographic film, first thing to ensure is that the work is original and protected. The originality of the work can be protected in several manners. The script can be protected through the Copyright Office by obtaining a copyright certificate for the literary work which is the most secure form of protection. It is prima facie evidence that it is original work free of plagiarism. Otherwise, the producers can ensure that it is original work by utilizing plagiarism check software. A commonly accepted script in Entertainment Industry in India is also the one already registered with the Screen Writers Association. Therefore, when a producer finalizes a script for a cinematographic film, a plagiarism check is a must to avoid any long drawn legal issues in the future affecting the investment.

Ownership and Copyright Clauses

When a scriptwriter is paid to write for an upcoming film, it is very essential to ensure that it is not a work of an independent contractor rather that of work for hire. This allows the producers to retain the copyright ownership despite not being the author of the work. Getting a No Objection Certificate from such work for hires is an added protection.  If an already existing script is adopted then the film producers should make sure to enter into an assignment agreement keeping in mind the provisions of Copyright Act, 1957 to avoid legal burden in the future. Therefore, producers should ensure that all the agreement’s contain certain and absolute copyright clauses to retain the ownership.

Importance of Non-Disclosure Agreements

In this digital age, sharing the scripts to various interested actors/performers/investors involved is done so at risk. Gone are the days when it was shared in goodwill. Therefore, it becomes essential to enter into non-disclosure agreements to protect and deter unauthorized use of the work.


Movie titles and Posters become an integral part of the Film. For years to come, movies are recognized by the name of the title.  Therefore, it becomes another intellectual asset that needs to be protected early on. As a common practice in the Industry the producers register the title with industry associations. They do not hold value in the eyes of the court. Moreover, titles cannot be protected under the Law of Copyright but it is capable of being registered under the Trademark Law. Several movie producers are now opting to protect it under the Trademark Act as potential customers generally associate with it.

Movie Posters play an equal role in a cinematographic film. It is used to attract fan base prior to release of the film and is greatly associated with it. Copyright protection can be obtained for it. It will provide an effective legal solution against fraudulent users. In the past several movie poster designers have been accused of copying someone else’s posters. As people are getting more aware, producers should check for plagiarism early on and protect it.


Indian films are not complete without colorful and soul full music. It has become a rich part of our film culture. Accordingly, huge amount of investment is put into it. Two parts of a music becomes relevant while protecting its intellectual property rights. The first part is the recording which is controlled or owned by recording companies or performers. While the other part is the composition which is controlled by the author or writer. What producers of film need to keep in mind is that as music is a valuable asset which can potentially bring about a lot of revenue and the same can be ensured by managing the copyright by way of absolute agreements and contracts with the interested parties. All of it only possible by reducing the concept of licensing and stressing on assignment of ownership of pre-exiting copyright.  However, since the 2012 amendment to Copyright Act, performers have a right to receive royalty for commercial use of their music work even if they agreed for it to be incorporated in a cinematographic film. Clear prior hand agreements would be beneficial to avoid legal battles in court.


The Indian film industry unlike its counterparts in Hollywood are yet to fully realize the potential intellectual property rights like Trademark afford for character merchandising. Especially, in a country where the rich film culture is prevalent. Personality characters from a film can be utilized to merchandise and securely create a stream of revenue by utilizing the Trademark Law in India.


The Indian Courts have become quick and efficient in implementing copyright and trademark infringement by way of injunctions. Online piracy of film on rogue websites have become a recent menace threating the Industry. The producers with help of Copyright Law can ensure that it is stopped. The film owners should actively collaborate in their efforts to do so.

In conclusion, the Copyright laws in India alongside other laws provide sufficient protection to safeguard a producer’s skill and effort put into their cinematographic film.


The copyright in the contents of this article exclusively belong to the author of this article. This is an initiative by Aarde Law Chambers to increase awareness about the Intellectual Property Laws in India. The viewers are free to share the article with due attribution and backlink to the source. Reproduction, modification and communication in physical and electronic medium without attribution and backlink is liable for appropriate legal consequences. 

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