Delhi HC reserves verdict on publishers’ appeal in photocopy case

The HC reserved judgement on a plea brought by publishers against an order allowing a photocopy shop in the DU campus to sell course packs using material published by them


The legal tussle began in August 2012, when international publishers brought a case of copyright infringement against Rameshwari Photocopy Services, a licenced vendor in DU’s north campus. Photo: HT
The legal tussle began in August 2012, when international publishers brought a case of copyright infringement against Rameshwari Photocopy Services, a licenced vendor in DU’s north campus. Photo: HT

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Monday reserved its judgment on an appeal brought by a group of international publishers against an order allowing a photocopy shop in the Delhi University (DU) campus to sell course packs using material published by them.

The appeal was brought before a bench headed by justice Pradeep Nandrajog, who reserved the verdict after substantially hearing both the international publishers and the university.

It challenged an order passed by justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw on 16 September, which allowed Rameshwari Photocopy Services, a shop in the DU campus, to sell course packs using material published by international publishers including Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor and Francis Group.

The publishers highlighted fallacies in the single judges’ order and contended that the defence of “fair use” of information under the copyright law would not apply in this situation and that copyright law had to be interpreted in the context intended under the Copyright Act, 1957.

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The publishers also opposed such photocopying being allowed on grounds that it would wipe out the basis of copyright as a whole.

While the university claimed that education of students as public interest should be given priority through sale of such course packs, the publishers opposed this and said that it was affecting their market share.

Sudhir Chandra, counsel for publishers, in an earlier hearing, had told the court that in the present case, photocopying was “not being done for philanthropic purposes” as the university had provided the photocopier with the publishers’ books from which relevant extracts could be used for preparing the course packs, in return for which the university would get 3,000 pages free of cost for its use.

The legal tussle began in August 2012, when international publishers brought a case of copyright infringement against Rameshwari Photocopy Services, a licenced vendor in DU’s north campus.

The publishing houses claimed the sale of compilations of parts of books in the form of course packs to students was illegal and in violation of the provisions of the Indian Copyright Act.

Although the case was specifically against Rameshwari Photocopy Services, other photocopy shops in the vicinity also stopped the sale of such course packs due to fear of being dragged to court.

On 16 September, setting a precedent for applicability of copyright in education matters, justice Endlaw dismissed a plea by a group of international publishers seeking to restrain Rameshwari Photocopy Service from selling photocopies of textbooks and course materials.

Consequently, students buying photocopies of textbooks and course materials for university exams were held to be within the confines of the Copyright Act, 1957.

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