IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


19th October, 2023 Polity

Copyright infringement not intended

Picture Courtesy: www.thelawadvice.com

Context: The Delhi High Court's recent order regarding the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and its copyrighted works sheds light on copyright protection and religious texts in India.

Key Highlights

Religious Texts and Copyright

In copyright law, religious scriptures that are in the public domain are not protected by copyright. This means that ancient religious texts like the Old Testament, New Testament, or traditional versions of the Bible are not subject to copyright protection.

However, modern translations and interpretations of religious texts can be copyrighted as new creative works.

Copyright Law in India

Indian copyright law protects "original works" that are creative and independently created and fixed in a tangible medium.

The creator or author of the work is granted exclusive rights to use, reproduce, distribute, perform, and display their work.

Transformative works that significantly modify or reinterpret existing material can also be protected.

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust's Case



The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust claimed that its founder's works, which simplified religious books and scriptures, were being reproduced on various online platforms without its permission. The trust asserted that these reproductions constituted copyright infringement.

In its interim order, the Delhi High Court ruled that adaptations, explanations, meanings, interpretations, and audio-visual works related to religious scriptures, like the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, are entitled to copyright protection because they represent the original works of the authors.

The court emphasized that while the actual reproduction of the text is allowed, copyright protection covers the original parts of literary works that teach, preach, or explain the scripture.

The court recognized that the unauthorized reproduction and distribution of the trust's works, including the shlokas (verses), translations, and interpretations, could lead to significant financial losses for the trust.


  • This case underscores the importance of understanding the scope of copyright protection for religious texts and the significance of protecting original creative works related to such texts. It also highlights the legal implications of reproducing and distributing copyrighted religious works without proper authorization.

Must Read Articles:

COPYRIGHT ISSUE: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/copyright-issue

COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT AND PASSING OFF: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/copyright-infringement-and-passing-off

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS: https://www.iasgyan.in/ias-gazette-magazine/perspective-intellectual-property-rights


Q. How does the legal framework for intellectual property protection in India address the various forms of intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets, and what measures are in place to safeguard intellectual property rights within the country?