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Assignment and License of Copyright difference under 1909 and Current Act.

Doctrine of indivisibility
Under 1909 Act: The following are the Differences:
1. Under this Act, only the Proprietor had the right to sue any infringer and the licensee lacked
this right as unlike the assignment, there did not subsist any ownership with the licensee. In
case of exclusive licensees, the licensee then has a right to sue with joining in with the
proprietor in the action.
2. Absent of any contractual limitation, an assignee had the right to reassign the work. A
licensee, however, had no right to resell or sublicense the rights acquired unless he had been
expressly authorized so to do.
3. An assignment of statutory copyright had to be in writing signed by the proprietor in order to
be valid, while a license could be valid through oral assignment.
4. Right to claim copyright: if an author of an unpublished work manuscript granted to a
magazine publisher the right to reproduce the work in magazine form, but reserved all the
rights (book publication, motion picture etc.), then the publisher would be merely a licensee,
ad not the proprietor of the work.

Under Current Act:

1. Limitation as on a licensees right to re-sell or sublicense with respect to nonexclusive
licensees. But under exclusive licensees, having acquired title or ownership of the rights
conveyed, may re-convey them unless a contract suggesting otherwise.
2. Under this Act, exclusive license and assignment shall be in writing.

The statute recognises transfers signed not only by the owner personally, but also by such duly
authorised agents. Accordingly, a license duty executed by the copyright owners exclusive licensing
agent can be treated as the owners contract as much as if he had executed it in person.

Sr. No.







In assignment, the copyright proprietor

assigns all his rights including the
ownership rights. Hence the assignee
becomes the owner after the
assignment. The owner of the
copyright in an existing work or the
prospective owner of the copyright in
a future work may assign to any
person the copyright either wholly or
partially and either generally or
subject to limitations and either for the
whole term of the copyright or any
part thereof.
The Act prescribes that a prospective
owner of a copyright in future work
may assign the copyright, to any
person, either wholly or partially,
although the assignment shall take
effect only when the work comes into
The assignee can sue in his own name
as he is becomes the owner of the
Copyright after assignment.

The owner of a
copyright in any
existing work or the
prospective owner of
the copyright in any
future work, may grant
any interest in the
right, by License in
writing, signed by him
or by his duly
authorized agent.

Under agency, the

agent acts on behalf of
the proprietor and he
can enter into contract
with the assignee or

It should be in writing, signed by the

assignor. The copyright work must be
identified and must specify the rights.
If the period of assignment is not
mentioned, then it shall be deemed to
be 5 years.

It can be done on
exclusive or
nonexclusive basis,
meaning the copyright
owner can license the
work to one or more
persons at the time.
The licensee can join
the copyright owner
and as a party to the
action of infringement.
Compulsory license
can also be given to
the person who
satisfies it to the
Copyright Board that
the proprietor has
stopped its circulation
or display or
performance of the
Compulsory licenses
can also be obtained
for the purposes of
production and
publication or
translation of the work