DU Photocopying Appeal: Who Said What And Why?

The Delhi High Court has reserved its verdict in the Delhi University (DU) photocopy case.

A group of international publishers, including Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor and Francis Group, appealed against the September 16 single judge ruling.

Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw had allowed Rameshwari Photocopy Services, a shop in the DU campus, to sell course packs using material published by international publishers.

In 2012, the publishers brought about a case of copyright infringement against Rameshwari Photocopy Services, a licenced vendor in DU’s north campus.

Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Yogesh Khanna heard the appeal and senior advocates Aman Sinha and Sudhir Chandra appeared for most parts on behalf of the respondents and the appellants, respectively.

While we await the verdict of the court, here’s ‘who said what’ in the appeal hearings.

Delhi University’s submissions

  1. S52[1][i], The Copyright Act, 1957:

“The language of Statute is clear & unambiguous. Section 52(1)(i) has been specifically incorporated for benefit of students. Thus, a beneficial legislation has to be construed & interpreted in a manner which will benefit the students who are the purported beneficiaries of this legislation.”

  1. Object of Copyright Act

“Object of Copyright Act is to increase knowledge & not to impede it. We are a developing country with limited resources & huge population and public interest comprising of students, teachers, education has to be given priority over private interest only handful of copyright owners for the financial gains.”

  1. Legislative Intent:

“The legislative intent to provide benefit to students is evident from the Parliamentary [Lok Sabha] debates at the time of amendment on 22.05.2012:”

Under S52[1][i] “whatever is required for classroom instruction is outside the scope of copyright. Students and non-profit libraries should not be charged.”

  1. Course packs are furthering cause of both students & the copyright owners. Reference books recommended by teachers will enhance the commercial value of the books which will surely benefit the copyright owners as this will aid in sales of such books. This is evident from the fact that sales of books recommended by teachers are vastly high than sales of other similar books on same subject.
  1. DU is the biggest university in Asia having more than 81 collages. DU is an instrumentality of ‘State’ as per Article 12, The Constitution of India.  Total fee charged from students is very reasonable. The DU would not like to take any additional commercial burden on its head and does not intend to hike the tuition/library fees at all.

Publishers:

  1. A consortium of ‘copyright owners’ are not being supported by the ‘authors’ themselves as they have openly voiced their concerns and categorically said that they stand with students & university on this issue.
  2. Reproduction of copyrighted work for distribution to the public is not legally permissible and would amount to copyright infringement.
  3. The doctrine of fair use would be applicable in a situation where a teacher or student reproduced certain topics for their use; however, it cannot be done by a university. DU 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.

This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.

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