At the Frontiers of Law-Making: Copyright and the Protection of Culture in India

4 WIPO J. 111 (2012)

20 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2013

Date Written: 2012


This article examines the role of copyright law in shaping cultural policy in India. In contrast to international trends, which promote the understanding of copyright as economic policy, India has consistently viewed copyright as cultural law. Throughout the history of Indian copyright law, Indian legislators have pioneered approaches to copyright law that reflect and respond to the country's cultural needs. India's treatment of copyright is especially interesting in view of the strong internal contradictions that drive Indian development – a country that is at once “underdeveloped,” in the sense that it is home to billions of the world’s poor, and a world leader in copyright's key modern constituencies, information technology and entertainment.

This paper briefly considers four case studies that illustrate India’s experiments with cultural policy through copyright law: copyright and the protection of cultural property in Amar Nath Sehgal’s case, the extension of copyright term in Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry, the issue of maintaining the integrity of Mahatma Gandhi’s works, and the public ownership of Subramania Bharati’s copyright. An interesting dynamic that runs through all four examples is the interplay of judicial decision making and legislative policy development in a country where demands on the legal system make justice practically inaccessible to the majority of people.

Keywords: copyright law, intellectual property, India, cultural heritage, cultural property

JEL Classification: O34, K39

Suggested Citation

Sundara Rajan, Mira T., At the Frontiers of Law-Making: Copyright and the Protection of Culture in India (2012). 4 WIPO J. 111 (2012), Available at SSRN:

Mira T. Sundara Rajan (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Magdalen College ( email )

Magdalen College
Oxford, OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics