In my answer here, I posted PDF's of most of the volumes of the 10-volume Motilal Banarsidass translation of the Padma Purana. I was able to get volumes 2-8 from two sources, DSpace (the digital repository of the West Bengal Public Library Network) and the Digital Library of India, both of which are government websites. Now I also found links to volumes 1 and 2 on the internet, but here's the problem: they're just on random websites, so I'm not sure if these links infringe on copyright. And the Stackexchange Network's Terms of Service says this

Subscriber represents, warrants and agrees that it will not contribute any Subscriber Content that ... infringes, violates or otherwise interferes with any copyright or trademark of another party

So I'd like go find out whether this book is still under copyright, or whether it's in the public domain. Here is a link to the book's description, if that helps. The book was originally published in 1951, so maybe the copyright has expired by now. Also, as I mentioned above certain volumes of the book are accessible through the Digital Library of India, which claims to be in compliance with the Indian Copyright Act of 1957.

In any case, does anyone know anything about Indian copyright law? In America, books published before 1923 are in the public domain. What is the cutoff for Indian books? I'm not just asking because of this one book; in future I expect to post PDF's of many other scriptures on Hinduism.SE, so I'd like to know how to determine the copyright status of an Indian book.

2 Answers 2


In the best case scenario, what you should do is ALWAYS share a credit link below your answer which points to the source website, book / author's name etc.

It happens many times that a user quotes a paragraph from other website, or he picks up an image and reuploads on Stack Exchange, so inorder to avoid copyright infringement issues, users should always provide a reference link below their answers crediting the website or the author.

If any of the author or the website requests for a deletion, StackExchange will take care of it accordingly.

The way users should credit authors / website

Vishnu (Viṣṇu) is a popular Hindu deity, the Supreme God of Vaishnavism (one of the three principal denominations of Hinduism) and one of the three supreme deities (Trimurti) of Hinduism

Credit : Wikipedia

Or you can write the word Reference instead of credit as well, same goes when user shares images which are taken from other websites.

  • So you think it's fine to post a link to a PDF of the book, even if that link is potentially copyright-infringing? Nov 23, 2014 at 19:55
  • 1
    @KeshavSrinivasan Its fine if you share the link, copyright infringement happes when you share / store any copyrighted content on your server without any permission so I dont think sharing a link will cause any issue
    – Mr. Alien
    Nov 23, 2014 at 19:59

Does anyone know anything about Indian copyright law? What is the cutoff for Indian books?

From the Government of India's Hand Book of Copyright Law:


Q: Is copyright protected in perpetuity?

A: No. It is protected for a limited period of time.

Q: What is the term of protection of copyright?

A: The general rule is that copyright lasts for 60 years. In the case of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the 60-year period is counted from the year following the death of the author. In the case of cinematograph films, sound recordings, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, works of government and works of international organisations, the 60-year period is counted from the date of publication.

From the Wikipedia article on the same topic:

enter image description here

  • But the Motilal Banarsidass translation of the Padma Purana was published in 1951, and 60 years later would be 2011. So unless the author died within 3 years of writing it, by that standard it would still be under copyright as of 2014 at least (which is when I wrote my post). And yet the Digital Library of India has certain volumes of it, and the Digital Library of India claims to be in compliance with the Copyright Act of 1957. So what's going on? Mar 23, 2016 at 8:38
  • Is it possible that this rule only applies to books published after the Copyright Act of 1957 was enacted? Perhaps a different rule appliees to books published before that time, for instance they may all be in the Public Domain now. Mar 23, 2016 at 8:45
  • @KeshavSrinivasan I sent them an e-mail asking for clarification. BTW, per this link: dli.ernet.in/static/dli/copyright.html ("You may not distribute, make available, and/or attempt to make available, any of the Content in the Digital Library to any other person.") -- I think this means, hosting their books on Google drive and such is not allowed even for copyright-free content?! :( Linking maybe ok... Mar 24, 2016 at 19:14
  • Well, if the material is material truly out of copyright, then they are legally powerless to put restrictions on its use. So I'm somewhat confused by that statement. Mar 24, 2016 at 20:40

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