DU photocopying case

DU photocopying case

Rameshwari Photocopy shop was established in 1998 and is owned by Mr. Dharampal. It came in limelight in 2012, due to copyright litigation filed by five prominent publishers which included Oxford University Press Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis. The case also colloquially came to be known as the 'DU Photocopy Case'. The case of the plaintiffs that the inclusion of specific pages of its publications by Rameshwari Photocopy Services, under the authority of the Delhi School of Economics, amounts to institutional sanction for infringement of its copyright.

The publishers filed a suit against Rameshwari Photocopy Shop and University of Delhi for the infringement of copyright. The professors of the Delhi School of Economics, through its Library, issued the books published by the plaintiffs to Rameshwari Photocopy Services for preparing course packs and they were used as textbooks. All of which was done without tking the permission of the publishers. Moreover there were no extra material apart from the photocopies of its copyrighted professors. According to the plaintiffs, Rameshwari Photocopy Services was operating commercially as was evident from the rate charged by it for selling the course pack is 40/50 paisa per page, as distinct from the market rate of 20/25 paisa per page being charged by other photocopiers from the students while photocopying material given by the students to be photocopied. During the trial Society for the Promotion of Educational Access and Knowledge (ASEAK) and Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK) were impleaded as Defendants. The High Court of Delhi granted ad interim injunction whereby the defendant was restrained from making and selling course packs and also reproducing the plaintiff publication by compiling the same either in the book form or course packs. In September 2016, the Delhi High Court decided the case in favor of the Defendants and held that -

"Copyright, especially in literary works, is thus not inevitable, divine, or natural right that confers on theauthors the absolute ownership of their creators. It is designed rather to stimulate activities and progress in the arts for the intellectual enrichment of the public.”

Aggrieved by the order of Single Judge the Publishers filed an appeal to the Division Bench. In addition to withdrawing the case from the Delhi High Court, the Publishers assured that it was not going to take up the issue before any other higher court, such as the Supreme Court of India.
On December 9, 2016 the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court decided the appeal interpreting Section 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act as permitting photocopying of copyrighted works for preparation of course packs and remanded the suit to the single bench for a fact specific determination on whether the copyrighted materials included in the course packs in this case were necessary for the purpose of instructional use by the teacher to the class.
On March 9, 2017 the Publishers withdrew the suit from the Delhi High Court.

In addition to withdrawing the case from the Delhi High Court, the Publishers assured that it was not going to take up the issue before any other higher court, such as the Supreme Court of India.

The Publishers jointly made a public statement that

"We continue to stand by our principles stated throughout this case. We support and seek to enable equitable access to knowledge for students and we understand and endorse the important role that course packs play in the education of students. We support our authors in helping them produce materials of the highest standard and we maintain that copyright law plays an important part in balancing the interests of those creating, curating, and disseminating learning materials with those requiring access to them.

"We look forward to working even more closely with academic institutions, teachers and students to understand and address their needs, while also ensuring that all those who contribute to and improve India's education system—including authors and publishers—continue to do so for the long term."

The decision of the publishers to withdraw the suit would be beneficial for the students who cannot afford original copies of those books. They could now read the photocopied version of all the academic books.


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