Monday, September 19, 2016

DU giving xerox of books to its students as a course pack doesn't infringe Copyright Act

Facts:
a) International publishers including University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis lodged a case against Rameshwari photocopy shop, a licensed vendor located in DU’s north campus.

b) The publishers had alleged that photocopy shop had been indulging in creating pirated version of books and selling them away to the student at very cheap prices.

c) Further publishers contended that photocopy shop was violating copyright law and causing them financial loss since student stopped purchasing their books. At the time, the Court passed an interim order preventing the vendor from selling the compilations of photocopied texts.

The High Court held as under:

1) The interests of the students can be rightly protected under the Indian Copyright Act which allows for fair dealing practice. Further, there are exemptions on “fair use” of work including educational propose from the purview of infringement.

2) Copyright is not a divine, natural or inevitable right that confers on authors/publishers the absolute ownership of their creations. It is designed rather to stimulate activity and progress in the arts for the intellectual enrichment of the public.


3) “In an earlier era, the facility available of photocopying was limited, time consuming and costly. The students then, used to take turns to sit in the library and copy by hand pages after pages of chapters in the books suggested for reading and subsequently either make carbon copies thereof or having the same photocopied. The photocopying machines then in vogue did not permit photocopying of voluminous books without dismembering the same. However with the advancement of technology the voluminous books also can be photocopied and at a very low cost. When the effect of the action is the same, the difference in the mode of action cannot make a difference so as to make one an offence.”

4) “Today, nearly all students of the University would be carrying cell phones and most of the cell phones have a camera inbuilt which enables a student to, instead of taking notes from the books in the library, click photographs of each page of the portions of the book required to be studied by him and to thereaô€šer by connecting the phone to the printer take print of the said photographs or to read directly from the cell phone or by connecting the same to a larger screen. The same would again qualify as fair use and which cannot be stopped”

Conclusion:

“Copyright, especially in literary works, is thus not an inevitable, divine, or natural right that confers on authors the absolute ownership of their creations. It is designed rather to stimulate activity and progress in the arts for the intellectual enrichment of the public”. Copyright is intended to increase and not to impede the harvest of knowledge. It is intended to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors in order to benefit the public.

Thus, the University making master photocopies of books kept in its library and making further photocopies and distributing to the students is fair use u/s 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act and is not copyright infringement. Photocopier licensed by University and operating within University Premises photocopying relevant pages of textbooks in University Library and compiling them into course packs and supplying them to students for a charge to students is not infringing copyright as the same is fair use u/s 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act. - [2016] 73 taxmann.com 214 (Delhi)
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