• Research/Scholar Paper name – Art, Censorship and Moral Exclusions in Intellectual Property Laws
  • Author: Sanjana Arun
  • Institution: O.P. Jindal Global University
  • Affiliation: Centre for Study of Contemporary Legal Issues
  • Date of Publication: 06/08/2022


The paper focuses on the Censorship of Art and Literature through contemporary Intellectual Property Laws and the constant curbing of the Freedom of Speech and Expression by a hypersensitive state mechanism. The paper seeks to examine the “morality” and “obscenity” clauses in the Indian Penal Code and the Intellectual Property Laws while scrutinising the rights under Section 19 of the Indian Constitution. It also emphasises on the tests employed in order to determine the “degrees” of morality and obscenity in pieces of Literature and Art and thereby, consequently paves way for a cut-throat censorship which is apathetic towards the value and perception of Art. In doing so, I seek to enumerate that while Article 19 is not a transcendental right and subsequently does not protect obscene material, the obscenity is to be determined carefully by applying ‘contemporary community standards’ and not ‘national standards.’ While examining the moral dimensions of Intellectual Property Law, the paper presents a double-edged sword in that, it showcases a partnership between Intellectual Property and Censorship which continues today with the undeniable influence of politics, nationalism and capitalism which is evident even to date as the state attempts to legislate stricter intellectual property laws. Moreover, the effect of exempting protection is that all such works fall instantly into the public domain and may be sold/copied with impunity which not only further marginalises sections of society like sex workers by pushing them into more extreme conditions of poverty and easily violates their Right to Life enshrined under the Constitution. Whereas, on the other hand, denying protection under the guise of obscenity, morality and scandalous matter, is also a form of censorship especially considering the religious undertones it can take up in a country like India- there exists a sense of discomfort in making moral determinations even when law permits it. The Morality bar introduces ‘vague’ and highly subjective guidelines which can be misused and employed to censor important and life-altering pieces of Art and Literature that are pertinent in the evolution of society. The paper encapsulates the interplay of Intellectual Property Laws and moral subjectivism in aggravating censorship of art and literature, inclusive of the bar of religion and immoral marks.

Art, Censorship and Moral Exclusions in Intellectual Property Laws

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