In this digitized world that we live in, our daily lives are incomplete without multimedia bombarding us be it through phones, tablets or computers. But, have you ever thought about who’s work are we using, who owns the different streams of multimedia, that we interact with? The answer is No. In most of the cases, Different multimedia content, whether videos, memes, photos, websites, operating systems are protected under the law of copyright.

Copyright is a bit tricky in Multimedia as it involves compilation of different other copyrighted work. The Copyright Act, 1957 protects copyright of various owners under section 14. Although in the Act, there is no clear definition of ‘compilation’, though, it can be explained as a process of assembling various work such as data, or a collection of literary or musical works and cinematographic work from various authors. Under section 2 (0) the compilations are protected under copyright as literary work.

Multimedia that we routinely engage with is basically a computer based interactive communication processes that include a combination of text, software, graphics, pictures, images, drawings, audio, animation, videos, etc. Multimedia elements are generally found to be embedded in web pages and there are various web browsers that supports multimedia formats. Multimedia applications include WWW, Adobe, Interactive TV, Computer games etc. It is a compilation of pre- existing or commissioned work or other data and uses a variety of artistic and communicative media.

Under Indian copyright law, different elements of multimedia work can be protected as literary, Artistic, Cinematographic, Sound and Musical work. Text of a multimedia program will be covered under Literary work, computer software under computer programs, still images, pictures, drawings under artistic work, animation and video under cinematographic film, audio under sound and musical work. The author of the multimedia work has to take permission to use a previously copyrighted work.

The original work in a multimedia will be protected in the name of different owners/authors in separate category. For Example when the musical work is originally written by a lyricist, further originally composed by a composer and sung by a singer, then the lyricist, composer and singer all will have individual rights over the work and the owners of all three categories of work will be protected separately under Copyright law, this might become a problem for the Developer of a multimedia as taking permission/license from each of the owner in a song will be burdensome, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary. However, in case of pre -existing work, the developers or creators will have to take prior permission from the owner to use data, images, computer program, audio, visual recordings, animation and the like incorporated in multimedia. Otherwise, the non – authorized work will be considered as the violation of copyrights of the owner.

Copyright protection subsist in a multimedia is for different terms, depending on different categories of works which has been used in its compilation.  For text and computer software, the term of copyright protection is Life time of the author + 60 years’ period counted from the year following the death of the author, for pictures, images, animation, video and audio the term is 60 years’ period that is counted from the date of publication i.e. the date when the work came into existence.

Digital media with various latest technologies have made easiest access to the copyrighted content and the convenient access results in violation of copyright. Hence it becomes difficult for the copyright owners to protect their rights. It becomes even more difficult in multimedia work because there are a number of aspects that can be protected under copyright. Therefore, to reduce the risk, Digital Right Management (DRM) are being used to protect the copyright in a digital environment. DRM schemes are various access control technologies, which enables authorized access to digital contents and restrict unauthorized duplication, modification of Copyrighted work such software, music, videos and movies. DRM technologies are quite helpful in protecting the copyright.

Sometimes we are so caught up with our social media feeds and interaction with technology is taken for granted that we don’t stop to think about who created individual aspects of the content we engage with.