I am gathering information on how to set-up and run a graphics and animation company in India for mostly overseas clients. What is the overall procedure? What permits and licenses are required by law? Where do I register to obtain copyright for digital assets such as music/images/video, etc?
Let me first talk about the copyrights issue. To what extent have you seen copyrighted material really protected? Don't you see the pirated CD's/VCD's/DVD's in almost every corner of the street? Do you think the copyrights for these do not exist? Why don't the big labels take legal action against this piracy? The simple answer is it is not effective as compared to the expenses involved in taking a legal route. You can, as a better option, learn more about the DMR stuff, which offers a built-in copy-protection mechanism.
To start a company, the process is not very complicated. There are four types of opening a firm: Proprietorship, partnership, Pvt. Ltd. and Public.
For proprietorship business, the process is extremely simple - take the plunge. That's it! No legal formalities involved.
For Partnership firm, execute a 'partnership deed' and get it registered.
For a Private Ltd. company, You'll have to identify the directors of the company and decide on the share holding pattern of each of the directors. Then prepare a document that consists of Articles and Memorandum of association. Then decide a name for your company. Approach the registrar of companies to register the name of your firm with them.
You can not start a Public Ltd company directly. You'll have to learn the rules and regulations of SEBI.
If you need more details about forming a partnership firm or a Pvt. Ltd. Company, I should be able to help you further. Feel free to drop a word to me at sandysat [at] gmail [dot] com
As you are targeting mainly foreign customers/clients, then, you'd invariably be dealing with foreign currency. Hence you should have a good understanding of FEMA.
A good news for you is that, you are indirectly talking about 'exports'. There are a set of goodies offered to exporters in terms of incentives and tax holidays etc. by Central Govt. For that, you'll need to obtain an IEC code. It would also be a better idea to have your registered office in some SEZ to reap additional benefits.
Wish you all the best!
P.S. - Let me add that, the above is a broad outline for your information. Not a 'step-by-step guide' or any legal advice. I can help you by connecting you with the experts in respective fields.