Dance is a universal language that transcends boundaries, and choreography is the art of arranging movements in a sequence to create a beautiful and expressive dance piece. In the world of intellectual property, protecting dance choreography can be as intricate as the movements themselves. This article explores the fascinating realm of copyright protection for dance choreography under Indian Copyright law, shedding light on the steps one must take to secure this unique form of creative expression.

Understanding Copyright Protection

In India, copyright is a legal right that grants creators exclusive rights over their original works, preventing others from reproducing, distributing, or performing those works without permission. While copyright traditionally covers literary, artistic, and musical works, dance choreography has found its place in this protected realm as well.

Under the Indian Copyright Act of 1957, the protection of dance choreography generally falls under the category of “dramatic work.” While the Act does not explicitly mention choreography, the concept of dramatic work is broad and encompasses various elements, including dance movements and choreography, when integral to a dramatic performance.

Eligibility Criteria

Originality: At the core of copyright protection lies the requirement of originality. Dance choreography must bear the hallmark of the choreographer’s unique creative vision, avoiding direct replication of existing movements. It is the individuality and creativity infused into the choreography that make it eligible for protection.
Fixation in a Tangible Medium: The ephemeral nature of dance does not preclude it from copyright protection. However, to secure this protection, the choreography must be fixed in a tangible medium. Video recordings, a common method, act as a visual record of the dance, allowing for future analysis. Written notations are another way to preserve choreography. Symbols, diagrams, or detailed descriptions on paper create a written record, ensuring accurate reproduction. This flexibility in fixation methods ensures that the essence of the choreography is preserved, regardless of the chosen medium.
Copyright Registration

While copyright protection starts when a work is created, registering dance choreography with the Copyright Office in India provides extra-legal strength. If a choreographer registers their work and faces an infringement dispute, the registration serves as strong evidence of ownership, streamlining legal proceedings. Additionally, copyright registration acts as a deterrent to potential infringers. When choreography is registered, it becomes part of the public record, signalling that the work is legally protected. This discourages others from attempting unauthorized reproductions, contributing to a culture of respect for choreographic creativity.

The Process of Registration

Documentation: The journey towards copyright protection begins with meticulous documentation of the dance choreography. This may involve creating a comprehensive written description, recording a video that captures the essence of the movements, or developing a notation system that serves as a visual representation of the choreography.

Authorship: Clearly attributing authorship is crucial, especially in collaborative choreographic endeavours. If multiple choreographers contribute to the work, it becomes imperative to establish the nature of their collaboration and delineate the specific contributions of each.

Registering with the Copyright Office: Navigating the process of copyright registration involves visiting the official website of the Copyright Office in India. Completing the application involves providing accurate details about the dance choreography, its creators, and the collaborative dynamics. The completeness and accuracy of this information are paramount.

Submission of Material: Alongside the application, submit a tangible representation of the choreography in the specified format. This could be a video recording, a written notation, or any other medium that authentically captures the nuances of the dance sequence.

Waiting Period: The Copyright Office undertakes a review of the application, and if all requirements are met, a copyright registration certificate is issued. The waiting period can vary, emphasizing the importance of patience in this process.

Enforcing Copyright

In the unfortunate event of copyright infringement, the copyright holder is vested with the right to take legal action against the alleged infringer. This may involve seeking an injunction to cease the unauthorized use of the choreography and claiming damages for any harm caused.


Choreography, a captivating art form, deserves copyright protection as a testament to our respect for creativity and the choreographer’s contribution. Whether you’re a budding choreographer or a dance enthusiast, obtaining copyright ensures your dance moves are not just expressions of art but also legally safeguarded. Let copyright quietly stand guard, preserving the beauty of dance for future generations. In the dance of creativity, let the law ensure that dance remains a timeless celebration of artistic expression.

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