An Analysis of Copyright Issue in Cyberspace


By Adarsh Mani Tripathi from Shri Ram Murti Smarak College of Law, Bareilly


Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination. Cyberspace is nothing but a symbolic and a figurative space that prevails within the scope of the Internet. It can be said that any task performed via the Internet occurs within the confines of cyberspace. Now the question arises: What is the Internet? The Internet is one of man’s profound inventions of the millennium. The Internet can be delineated as a world wide network of interconnected software and computers. In the 1960s the very first workable prototype was brought into the work by Advance Research Projects Agency Networks (ARPANET). U.S Department of Defence was like a philanthropist or a donor to ARPANET because they used to fund ARPANET. With the use of packet switching ARPANET allowed multiple computers to work on a single network. The Internet’s most virtuous quality is that it can be accessed with trivial cost and to almost anywhere in the world.

Steven Wright, an American actor once quoted that “The Internet is a wild west and there are no rules for it”. His this statement was true only till when the laws and limitations weren’t constituted for the usage and working on the Internet.

What is Cyberspace?

As stated above Cyberspace is nothing but a symbolic and a figurative space that prevails within the scope of the Internet. It is a very wide term which includes computers, software’s, networks, data storage devices, Internet, emails, websites also it includes the electronic devices like cell phones, ATMs etc. In other words, it’s a virtual space credited to the Internet.

Cyberspace is distinguished into three categories-

1. Target cyberspace: It means the crime in which a computer is the target of an offence.

2. Tool cyberspace: It means the crime in which a computer is used as a tool in committing an offence.

3. Computer incidental: It means the crime in which a computer plays a minor role in committing an offence.

History of Cyberspace

In 1984, William Gibson an America-Canadian fiction writer published a book named “Necromancer”. For the very first time the word Cyberspace was used in this book.

This book focused on a story of a hacker of a database who stole data for a fee. Author portrayed a cyberspace as three dimensional virtual landscape. He mentions that a network of computers creates this space.

In 1986, the English language dictionaries introduced the word Cyberspace.

According to the New Oxford Dictionary,  Cyberspace is a national environment in which the people communicate over computer networks.

Since cyberspace is virtual space, it has no mass, gravity or boundaries. It only represents an interconnected space between the system, computers and other networks.

It prevails in the form of bits and bytes – zeroes and once (0’s  – 1’s). The entire cyberspace is a dynamic environment of 0’s and 1’s which alters every second.

Cyber Law

Cyber Law is a law constituted for governing the behaviour of technologies like computers, software’s, hardware’s, Internet and different networks. It investigates and protects people from cyber crimes. Cyber Law is also termed as Internet Law or IT Law.

Need for Cyber Law in Cyberspace

  • Cyberspace is an immaterial dimension that is unfeasible to govern and monitor using conventional law.
  • Cyberspace has complete insolence for jurisdictional boundaries. Any person sitting  in India can break into a bank’s electronic vault hosted on any system in the USA and transfer millions of Currency  to another bank in Switzerland, all within a minute. All he needs is a laptop, computer and a cell phone.
  • Cyberspace handles immense traffic volumes every single second. Billions of mails are criss crossing in the globe even as we read this, billions of websites are being used every minute and billions of dollars are electronically transacted and transferred around the globe by banks every day.
  • Cyberspace offers immense potential for anonymity to its members. Encryption software & steganographic tools that are available with very ease which seamlessly conceal information within the image and sound files ensuring the confidentiality of the information exchanged between the cyber-citizens.
  • Cyberspace offers that never-seen-before economic efficiency. Today, Billions of dollars of software are traded over the Internet without any requirement of government licenses, shipping and charges of handling and without any payment of any customs duty.
  • Electronic information has become a main object of cybercrime. It is characterized by extreme mobility, which exceeds by far the mobility of persons, goods or other services. International computer networks can exchange huge amounts of data around the world in a matter of seconds.
  • Any software source code worth millions of rupees or a movie can be pirated across the world within an hour of its release.
  • Steeling of corporeal information’s (e.g. books, papers, floppy disks, CD ROMs) is easily covered by traditional penal provisions. However, the trouble begins when the electronic records are copied quickly and inconspicuously and often via telecommunication facilities. The original information remains in the ‘possession’ of an ‘owner’ and yet the information gets stolen.

Cyber Laws in India

In India, cyber laws are mentioned in the Information Technology Laws or IT Acts. The perspective of this act is to provide legal recognition to electronic commerce and to facilitate the filing of the election records with the government.

Here are the following Act, Rules and Regulations constituted under cyber laws:

1. Information Technology Act, 2000

2. Information Technology (Certifying Authorities) Rules, 2000

3. Information Technology (Security Procedure) Rules, 2004

4. Information Technology (Certifying Authority) Regulations, 2001

Scope of Cyber Law

There is a very wide scope of a cyber law as it deals with various kinds of threats imposed by and on the internet and also deals with the regular change in Information Technology :

• Dealing with hackers, spammers and all those who spread viruses and malwares.

• Protecting the individuals privacy and preventing frauds and hacks while money transactions.

• Categorization and regulation of contractual obligations allied to the acquisition of the software.

• Protecting the Intellectual Property Rights and dealing with the issues of the copyright in a computer program and patent protection of the software programs.

• Dealing and regulating the issues of trafficking in the domain names.

• Regulation of all the contents and information available on the internet.

• Protecting and regulating the freedom of speech and expression and the right to information.

Concept of Digital Copyright

The new technologies have increased the importance of intellectual property. These new technologies can be in the field of Trade mark, Copyright, patent etc. Generally it is perceived that the copyright is given to original literary, artistic, musical or dramatic works. But the extension of new technologies gives rise to the new concepts of computer programs, computer layouts, computer databases, various works on the web, etc. So it is very essential to know more about the copyright regarding the computer programs/software, computer databases and different works in cyberspace. Copyright is the key issue in the intellectual property rights in the digital era.

The Copyright Act, 1957, along with Copyright Rules, 1958, is the only governing law for the protection of copyrights in India. Copyright laws shield the legal rights of an owner of the ‘original work’ by preventing others from reproducing the work in any other way.

Copyright laws also protect the expressions of the ideas rather than ideas themselves. Under the Section 13 of the Copyright Act 1957, copyright protection is applicable on literary works, musical works, dramatic works, artistic works, cinematograph films and the sound recording. For example, books, computer programs are shielded under the Act as literary works.

Copyright refers to the bunch of exclusive rights endowed in the owner of copyright by the virtue of the Section 14 of the Act. These rights can be practised only by the holder of copyright or by any other person who has been granted a license in the regard by the holder of copyright. These rights involve the right of publication, right of translation, right of adaptation, right to make reproduction, communication to the public etc.

Infringement of copyright

A copyright provides a protection to the holder of an original work and also prevents the work from being copied or from being reproduced without the consent of the owner.  The owner of a work can restrict anyone from

i. Reproduction of the work in any form like print, sound, video, etc.,

ii. Recording of the work in the compact disks, cassettes, etc.,

iii. Broadcasting the work in any form,

iv. Translating the work into other languages, and

v. Copying the work for a public performance, such as a stage drama or musical performance.

Infringement of Copyright in Cyberspace includes

  • Downloading and uploading of the file.
  • Derivative works
  • Hot- linking
  • Audio Video works
  • Multimedia works
  • Software
  • Social Media works etc.

Infringement in Copyright can take place in different forms

  • Framing
  • Linking
  • Caching
  • Public display of the rights by uploading on Internet
  • Archiving


It is the process where one website is sanctioned to incorporate the content from the other independent website into a framework of its own, in which the framing website appears to be the original website. While framing, each of the frames functions freely so that the information downloading into the frame settles within the frame and does not move into the other frame or does not overlap onto the frame itself.

Following are the famous cases regarding Framing-

  • Washington Post Co v Total News Inc.
  • FutureDontics, Inc vs. Applied Anagramics Inc.


Linking means connecting the user from the original site to the linked site.

Following are the famous cases regarding Linking-

  • Shetland Times Ltd v Dr Jonathan Wills and Zet News Ltd.
  • Ticketmaster Corporation vs. Microsoft Corporation
  • Kelly vs. Arriba Soft Corp.
  • Nunez vs. Caribbean International News Corp.


Cache is referd to a space of interim storage. Electronic gazettes have caches such as disk cache and cache memory. Caching is the process where the material is copied from an original content to the cache. Such material would remain in the system for a temporary period of time.

Public display of the rights by uploading on Internet

When anything is published on the Internet, there are almost unrestricted viewing and when a Copyright material is uploaded on the internet without authorization, then it becomes a case of infringement.


In the case of framing and linking, the links were hyperlinked or framed from any other website generating a conduit between the two on the internet. The content was not stored or downloaded in the cases mentioned above. But in Archiving, it is compulsory for downloading and storing the material from another website and incorporating the same.

Jurisprudence of Indian Cyber Law in cyberspace

The Cyber law in India is mentioned in the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) which came into force on 17 October 2000. The basic perspective of this Act is to provide legal acceptance to electronic commerce and to facilitate filing of the electronic records with the Government. The Information Technology Act also penalizes every cybercrime and provides harsh punishments.

The adaptation of Information Technology (IT) gave birth to cyberspace where the internet provides equal opportunity to everyone to access any information, data etc. with the usage of advanced technologies. Regular increase of netizens, was clutching up the misuse of the technologies in cyberspace which gave birth to cybercrimes at the domestic and as well as at international level.


Stephen Hawking once quoted that each and everyone of us is now connected via the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain. From the above contents we can clearly conclude that today almost each of us is anyhow directly or indirectly dependent on the internet, we knowing and unknowingly share our personal details on the internet. We have seen a regular increase in the number of internet users because it makes one’s life easier and faster and its many more qualities attack the users and that is what makes people believe on the Internet. It not only makes it easier but also makes it riskier as many Internet experts try to fool people by committing frauds and sins and because of lack of knowledge it becomes difficult for a normal person to identify it. So the Government took many steps and constituted many laws to get rid of cyber crimes.



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