Copyright Office loses the file pertaining to the International Copyright Order, 1999

In yet another stunning response from the Copyright Office, to a RTI application filed by me, I’ve been informed that the entire file pertaining to the International Copyright Order, 1999 has simply disappeared from the Copyright Office. The ostensible reason provided by the Copyright Office is as follows “The file pertaining to the International Copyright Order, 1999 is not readily available and seems to be misplaced due to shifting of our office from Curzon Road Barracks to Parliament Street, New Delhi. The efforts are being made to trace the file and the documents will be sent to you as and when the file is transferred.” This reply from the Copyright Office (which is available over here) is dated the 1st of June, 2011 and since the file has not yet been sent to me even 2 months later, it is reasonable to presume that all efforts to trace the file have failed.

Missing files at government offices is nothing new. As reported earlier on this blog the trademarks registry has lost around 8000+ files, while the patent office has also lost files pertaining to pre-grant oppositions. The entire problem seems to be the lack of accountability and responsibility amongst the civil servants manning these offices. I’m sure that if the Copyright Office is asked for an official response, they would in all probability hold the truck-driver, who handled the transport to the new premises, responsible for the missing file. This is the manner in which the government usually fixes responsibility.

The International Copyright Order, 1999 is an executive order promulgated under Section 40 of the Copyright Act, 1957. This provision allows the Central Government to extend, via an executive order, Indian copyright law to those foreign countries which reciprocate such protection for Indian citizens. This Order is basically the only reason that foreign copyright owners are able to enforce their copyrights in India. I had wanted a copy of the file in order to analyse the government’s reasoning for extending copyright protection in certain works to foreign copyright owners. Well guess what – I can’t do that anymore.

One wonders about the Copyright Office’s response to a possible writ petition before a High Court requesting for the production of such a file before the Hon’ble High Court. Do they have a Plan B?

Prashant Reddy

Prashant Reddy

T. Prashant Reddy graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, with a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree in 2008. He later graduated with a LLM degree (Law, Science & Technology) from the Stanford Law School in 2013. Prashant has worked with law firms in Delhi and in academia in India and Singapore. He is also co-author of the book Create, Copy, Disrupt: India's Intellectual Property Dilemmas (OUP).


  1. AvatarArun Shankar

    This seems to be a typical reply to an RTI Application, devised by the so called ‘Baboos’ to dupe citizens.

    Why don’t you take up in Appeal that the matter is brought to CIC?

  2. AvatarGeeta

    Hi Prashant!

    Thank you for posting this article. 🙂

    I would like to know if you are still wanting to have a copy of the file?

    Geeta C Loni (Ms.)


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