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Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) over the Content of E-Learning Apps & Online Coaching Classes

 > Corporate Lawyer  > Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) over the Content of E-Learning Apps & Online Coaching Classes

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) over the Content of E-Learning Apps & Online Coaching Classes

In the age of digitisation, recent development in the education sector has also shifted from traditionalist approach to modernist approach. Everything has gone online; imparting virtual education has become our reality. Lectures are being held online, study material is circulated with the click of a button making it prone for the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of the original creator/educator to be infringed which is a legitimate concern.

COPYRIGHTS IN E-LEARNING
The copyright laws in our country are not only a piece of legislative work but also a social welfare mechanism to help people protect their intellectual property (IP).

According to section 13 of the Copyright Act 1957, copyright subsists in the following work
a) Original literary,dramatic,musical and artistic works
b) Cinematograph films
c) Sound recordings
The expression “literary work” does not only comprise of poetry and prose but also indicate to any work which would come under the ambit of literature, that is anything in writing. That also means that the study material that is created by the educator can be protected under the Copyrights Act, 1957 if converted into writing.

In the case of Najma Heptulla v. M/s Orient Longman Ltd,14 IPLR 1989 it was held that the lecture delivered cannot be a subject matter of copyright until and unless it has been converted into writing, printing or any other notation . Which makes it evident that the study materials or the lectures delivered in online classes can get copyright of the same.

SITUATION UNDER THE INDIAN COPYRIGHT LAWS
Indian copyright law does not explicitly state the provisions in literary works like it has been defined in Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 of the United Kingdom. This leaves a ground for exploration in regards to protection for original and oral literary and dramatic pieces.

Indian copyright law does not explicitly state the provisions in literary works like it has been defined in Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 of the United Kingdom. This leaves a ground for exploration in regards to protection for original and oral literary and dramatic pieces.

What can an Educationist/ original content creator do to protect his/her Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)?
1) Do a Proper Research- to find out if the work is infringing any other owner’s right.
2) Record –It can be both written/oral.
3) Get Watermarked- ensure that your name and details is mentioned in the background of documents/videos/any other material that is circulated. This helps the educators to get due credits for the same or any subsequent business from it.
4) Make it well known as much as possible.
5) Formulate a copyright policy with the engaged institution, this helps establish a contractual obligation on the part of the institution and the author, if not independent. The clarification what is deemed to be infringement needs to be done.
6) Include “copyright” or “disclaimer” symbol. This will not offer any extra protection but the third party will think twice before misusing the intellectual property (IP).
7) Get a trademark- A unique and identifiable name to the author’s work can be of great advantage to the institutional organization as well as the business which may include digital audio, video, text on a website, animated images, any other e- learning content that the educator can produce.

In the case of Turning Point Institute Pvt Limited v Turning Point CS (OS) No. 2368 of 2015 the plaintiff submitted that the defendant was the subsequent user of the mark “TP” which infringes with the intellectual property rights. Both the parties imparted education that can cause confusion in the minds of the students hence causing irreparable loss and injury to the plaintiff. The Court granted injunction on the basis of prima facie case, irreparable loss and injury and balance of convenience.

Internet is a borderless platform where it is quite easy to misuse someone’s hard work. The owner may only want to prevent copying and reproduction of his work but it sometimes can take away the rights of fair use by third party.

Technology is not moral sensitive so it does not understand what approach the law makers had in mind while formulating such policies which only provides for a socialistic attitude towards to the users.

The educators should not refrain from sharing their knowledge and this can be made possible from understanding the pre-existing norms and developing a mechanism to protect Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of an individual.
Authored By: Adv. Anant Sharma & Shivangi Ghosh

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