Publishers Lose Copyright Case Again: Photocopying Allowed For Educational Use, Says Court

Posted by Abhishek Jha in Campus Watch, News
December 10, 2016

Providing relief to lakhs of students, the Delhi High Court on Friday held that photocopying for educational use was allowed. It also restored for trial the issue whether photocopying study material for course packs is a violation of copyright.

A single bench of the Delhi High Court had dismissed publishers case against photocopying of their copyrighted publications in September. Dismissing their appeal against the earlier verdict, the court has ruled that photocopying for educational use is permitted under Indian Copyright Law as long as the portions photocopied are “justified” by the syllabus.

The judgment came in an appeal filed by five publishers- Oxford University Press; Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom; Cambridge University Press India Pvt. Ltd.; Taylor & Francis Group, U.K.; and Taylor & Francis Books India Pvt. Ltd. The publishers had earlier filed a case alleging that photocopying of prescribed study material by M/S Rameshwari Photocopy Service at Delhi University amounted to copyright infringement and had claimed damages of over 60 lakhs. The Delhi High Court had dismissed the case against which the publishers had filed an appeal.

The division bench has now sent the case back to the single bench for trial. The trial will assess whether portions being photocopied are justified by the syllabus. It has also refused to issue a stay order on the working of the photocopy shop. However, the shop will have to keep record of the course-packs being sold and the material being copied.

“We would declare that the law in India would not warrant an approach to answer the question by looking at whether the course pack has become a textbook. But by considering whether the inclusion of the copyrighted work in the course pack was justified by the purpose of the course pack- for instructional use by the teacher to the class- it would warrant an analysis of the course pack with the reference to the objective of the course, the court content and the list of suggested readings. This would require expert evidence,” the court said.

The Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge, a group formed by students to argue their case in the suit, has welcomed the judgment. The owner of the photocopy shop too has welcomed the judgment.

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