Rating Consumer Friendly Copyright Laws: India at No. 1

After much criticism of the law and the lack of transparency in the system, Indian IP finally has something to cheer about! A study of over 16 States by Consumers International (which describes itself to be the “world’s only global consumer advocacy body”) has ranked India at the top of a list which globally surveyed “national copyright laws and enforcement practices from the perspective of how well they promote access to knowledge for consumers, by allowing them fair access to the fruits of their society’s culture and science.” This is the inaugural edition of CI’s IP Watch 2009 that as per their own admission aimed at rating not primarily the most strict legal system with respect to copyrights but the most “fair”.

While India was ranked number one, the surprises continue down the top5 of the list with three other Asian countries- South Korea, China and Indonesia all keeping India company on the list. Interestingly, the United States of America that comes out with its year Special 301 Reports that critiques other IP regimes only manages to come in at number 4 on the list.

The survey concludes that the existing copyright law in India “is a relatively balanced instrument that recognises the interests of consumers through its broad private use exception, and by facilitating the compulsory licensing of works that would otherwise be unavailable. Neither has India rushed to accede to WIPO Copyright Treaty, which would expose India’s consumers to the same problems experienced in other jurisdictions which have prohibited the use of circumvention devices to gain access to legally-acquired copyright material.” Furthermore, while acknowledging the fact that there does exist a large market where infringement of physical media is prevalent, the report contextually holds the same only to be a by-product of the current economic scenario of the Indian peoples.

Strangely, the copyright laws of the United Kingdom (that India has based itself/ borrowed heavily from) along with Brazil, Argentina, Thailand and Chile round off the last few places on this list. 

Despite there being several doubts as to the adequacy of the Indian copyright law-with unresolved loopholes in the law and several cases that challenge basic provisions of the act- the present survey is all in all, a good showing for the Indian copyright laws especially when the same is seen in the perspective of the consumer.

[Some interesting articles on the existing copyright law as well as global policy as regards the same are to be explored in the second issue of the Indian Journal of Intellectual Property Law. With reference to the present post, readers are recommended to earmark two excellent articles by Ms. Latha Nair and Ms. Nadia Lambek. The same will be made available on the IJIPL website after the publication of the forthcoming issue due to be released in July 2009. ]

News reports on this survey are available here and here.


  1. Anonymous

    Why is a site like SpicyIP even bothering to report about surveys such as this? With rankings as skewed as this, isn’t it obvious that those who are on the list have paid to be there?

  2. Anonymous

    Dear Anonymous,
    Could you adduce any evidence and/or further thoughts as to why this is a bogus survey? As far as I can see, the questions that were used to determine each country’s rankings are open to all to see.

    And what about the rankings is “skewed”? Should Chile be on top and India at the bottom? Instead of making random pointless comments, it would be helpful if you engaged in substantive debate.


  3. Kruttika Vijay

    Dear Anon1 and 2,

    Thank you for your comments.

    Anon 1: While the survey conducted might have thrown up surprising results and is not well known (since this is in fact the first year that it has been conducted by CII), I would agree with Anon 2 since I believe this can be no reason to discredit the study without concrete proof.



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