New Delhi: Oxford University Press (OUP) and other international publishers are withdrawing their lawsuit against Rameshwari Photocopy Service, a licensed vendor located in Delhi University’s North Campus.
The case has, over the last five years, attracted international attention as a test case for copyright violation.
OUP, Cambridge University Press and Taylor and Francis Group have together decided to withdraw the case against Rameshwari Photocopy from selling photocopies of parts of their books to students as they believe that it is not correct to engage in a legal battle with their stakeholders, that is educational institutions.
“We have taken a considered decision not to pursue the Delhi University Photocopy shop case further in the courts,” a joint statement from the publishers said. The publishers on Thursday filed an application with the Delhi high court to “withdraw as plaintiffs”.
Besides, “we will not be submitting an appeal to the Supreme Court of India”, as was planned.
In October, these publishers had moved a fresh appeal against a September judgment of a single judge bench of the Delhi high court that had rejected the international publishers’ case and allowed the photocopy shop to continue its business.
Earlier, the publishers’ collective stand was that though “equitable access to knowledge is important. But such access would not exist without the efforts of content creators, authors, illustrators, designers, publishers and everyone else involved in the creation and dissemination of original content, and their rights must be respected. Access to knowledge will be reduced if this ceases to happen”.
The move is being seen by some as a step back by the publishers, who said that they are willing to work “more closely with academic institutions, teachers and students to understand and address their needs”.
In September 2016, the court had ruled in favour of the students and held that “copyright in a literary work is not an inevitable, divine or natural right” conferred on an author. It added that the copyright law was intended to increase and not impede knowledge.
The case, which was heard by the Delhi high court since 2012, was seen as one that would set a precedent on the applicability of copyright law in the education sector in India.
Sumeet Malik, director of EBC (Eastern Book Co.) Publishing Pvt. Ltd said it is “unfortunate that the publishers have decided to withdraw the suit”.