Suppose I have a friend who wants to transfer ownership of a piece of their artwork to me. What is the simplest way that my friend can do so? Assume that we both live in India.

  • While this site may provide an answer that explains the law in India concerning transfer of copyright, the best way to do this is to find a qualified Indian lawyer with Indian (and perhaps international) copyright expertise and engage the lawyer to draft a contract to transfer the copyright.
    – phoog
    Dec 12 '21 at 13:37

This is governed by Section 19 of the Copyright Act, 1957 in India (see, e.g. here and here).

In the cleanest scenario, the copyright is first registered and then transferred with a written assignment meeting multiple formal requirements of that section that is filed with the copyright registrar.

The assignment document is only valid if it is written and duly signed by the assignor or their duly authorized agent or representative. The transfer of a copyright in work must recognize the work and specify the kind of rights assigned and the duration and regional extent of such transfer. Moreover, it must specify the amount of royalty payable, if any, to the author or their legal representatives during the continuance of transfer, and the transfer will be subject to extension, revision or termination on terms jointly agreed upon by the parties. If the time of transfer is not mentioned, it will be deemed to be taken as five years from the transfer date. If the regional extent of such transfer is not stipulated, it will be taken as applicable across India.

Disputes over ownership of registered copyrights in India are usually handled by the Appellate Board connected to the Copyright Registrar's office, described in Section 11 of the Act, rather than by the ordinary courts.


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