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Vol. 7 (2011)

Fair Dealing of Computer Programs in India

Rahul Matthan And Nikhil Narendran

This essay analyses the amendments to the Copyright Act introduced in 1994 that dealt with fair dealing provisions for computer programs. The authors identify fair dealing as a user right rather than a defense right on the basis of judicial decisions on the point. They discuss the statutory exceptions to copyright for the purposes for which the program was supplied and to achieve inter-operability of a program. The authors also discuss the restrictions upon such fair dealing provisions, such as their accrual only to the lawful possessor of the program and their use solely for the purpose of achieving the purpose of supplying the program. The exceptions provided for research purposes and for making copies for non-commercial use fulfil the need for greater public access to programs and dissemination of such programs to achieve the utilitarian aim of public benefit, rather than merely seeking to vest rights in the copyright holder, despite the resistance of the industry to such methods. The authors conclude that any attempts by a company to enforce its rights to the program by creating stricter license terms to exclude the statutory exceptions for fair dealing ought to be punished under the Act.


Partner, Trilegal, Bangalore.; Senior Associate, Trilegal, Bangalore.

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