Under the Intellectual property laws, owners can exclude others from performing certain specified acts. However, at the same time it allows them to grant third parties special permission to perform any of those acts through licensing, while retaining ownership. There is a variety of such licensing agreements available, which may be broadly categorized as the following with respect to licensing of intellectual property:




Section 30 of the Indian Copyright Act defines what is meant by voluntary licensing.

According to Section 30: The owner of the copyright in any existing work or the prospective owner of the copyright in any future work may grant any interest in the right by license in writing signed by him or by his duly authorized agent. It is up to the copyright owner of any existing work or the prospective owner of any future work to grant any interest in the right by way of a license.

However, what has to be kept in mind is that in case of a future work, the license will come into force only when the work comes into existence.


Section 31 of the Indian Copyright Act provides for the compulsory licensing of copyright in case of works that are withheld from the public. In case the copyright owner has refused to:

Republish or allow for the republication of the work or has refused to allow for the performance of the work in public due to which the work is withheld from the public:

Allow communication of the work to the public by way of broadcast of such work, or in the case of sound recording the work recorded in such sound recording on terms which the complainant considers reasonable,

It is only after providing reasonable opportunity for the owner of the copyright to be heard and after conducting an enquiry and if satisfied, the Copyright Board can direct the Registrar of Copyrights to grant a compulsory license to the complainant to republish the work, broadcast the work or communicate it to the public as the case may be. Upon such direction, the Registrar of Copyrights shall grant the license to the complainant.

In addition to this, a compulsory license can also be granted in case of unpublished Indian works. Section 31A has provisions for the same. In case of an unpublished work wherein the author is dead or unknown or cannot be traced, any person can apply to the Copyright Board seeking for a license to publish such work.