One of the constant complaints on this blog has been the lack of resources and staffing at the Copyright Board. The situation was so bad that the Delhi High Court took suo-moto cognizance of the state of affairs at the Copyright Board. Maintaining and running the Copyright Board is one of the many duties of the Copyright Office. Recently, I filed a RTI application with the Ministry of HRD requesting them to release information on the sanctioned strength of the Copyright Office and the number of vacant posts at the Copyright Office for a period of the last five years. The reply to the RTI Application can be accessed over here.
In 2008, the Copyright Office had a sanctioned strength of 17 bureaucrats, with the breakup being as followed:
(i) Joint Secretary – 01
(ii) DS/Director – 01
(iii) Under-Secretary – 01
(iv) Copyright Information Officer – 01
(v) Section Officer – 01
(vi) Special Officer (Copyright) – 01
(vii) Assistant (Including one post of Reader cum artist) – 08
(viii) UDC – 03
The Copyright Office’s main job apart from providing support to the Copyright Board, is to formulate India’s national and international copyright policy, process applications for copyright registration and administer the 16 odd IP Chairs established in universities across the country.
Despite, the fast growing pace of the Indian economy, and the increasing importance of copyright policy towards India’s trade and commerce the sanctioned strength of the Copyright Office has remained static and in fact things are worse today because even the sanctioned strength of the Copyright Office has not be fulfilled. As per the RTI reply, of the 17 sanctioned posts at the Copyright Office, around 8 are lying empty i.e. a 47% vacancy. When I asked the Ministry the steps that were being taken to fill the vacancies, I was informed that the same was not within the purview of the RTI Act! In a similarly worded RTI to the DIPP, the DIPP provided me with a detailed reply on the steps being taken to fill the vacancies at the Patents and Trademark Office.
As a natural result of this shortage of staff, the working of the Copyright Office has been affected and from what I hear the backlog of copyright applications has been increasing in the Copyright Office. It’s the same story at all three IP offices – the Copyright Office, the Trade Mark Registry and the Patent Office. This is happening despite the fact that a substantial portion of Indian imports relate to some kind of intellectual property.