Legal Advice

Copyright issue in pre existing information available on internet

Shivendra Pratap Singh


High Court Lucknow

Civil Law

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Question asked on: 19 Jul, 2021

Question: I have a Twitter account and always post several information from sports. There is also a website on which I post some articles, blogs and other informative materials. All the materials belong to the sports. I want to know whether copyright issues in pre existing information available on the internet may create any trouble?

All this information is available on the internet and anyone can access it without any permission. I have posted that information on the Twitter account, website and on the blog without taking permission from anyone. If any person files a case against me for the infringement of copyright then can I protect myself? 

Question from: Karnataka

When the information is available on the public domain anyone can use this for the personal purpose. You have a Twitter account and a  website where you generally post information about the sports activities.This is not a commercial use of information which is easily and freely available on the internet. 

You cannot  claim ownership and the information which you gathered from the internet. Dissemination of  this information on the Twitter account and website needs time, effort and research. You have done extensive research to collect information from the internet and put them in a single place. All this information which you published on Twitter and website is in a systematic order.  

Therefore, it is a recreation of information. It does not amount to infringement of copyright act. You should not worry about the infringement of copyright unless you do not claim that it is your own work or collection of data. If you want to protect yourself from any future litigation over the use of old data you can mention the source of information on Twitter and the website.

This is the most common and general practice in respect of use of other’s data in your literary work. In Eastern Book Company & Ors. v. D.B. Modak & Anr. AIR 2008 SC 809; the Supreme Court has held that:

A copyright law presents a balance between the interests and rights of the author and that of the public in protecting the public domain, or to claim the copyright and protect it under the copyright statute. One of the key requirements is that of originality which contributes, and has a direct nexus, in maintaining the interests of the author as well as that of the public in protecting matters in the public domain. It is a well-accepted principle of copyright law that there is no copyright in the facts per se, as the facts are not created nor have they originated with the author of any work which embodies these facts. 

Eastern Book Company & Ors. v. D.B. Modak & Anr. AIR 2008 SC 809

In most of the cases the author uses pre existing information.  Creation of new material by using the existing data is called derivative work. The copyright act protects the derivative work if personal skill, labour and capital is required in creation of derivative work. Dissemination of information on Twitter and websites however, using the pre-existing data does not infringe copyright act.