In November 2012, three international publishers i.e. University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis, filed a suit at Delhi High Court against a photocopy shop situated near the Delhi School of Economics, North Campus, Delhi University as known by the name of ‘Rameshwari Photocopy Service’. Prior to that, they obtained a direct stay order on sale of their books and photocopy of any chapters from their books by the said Xerox cum book-selling shop within the premises of Delhi University.
The petition was filed against the Xerox shop on its sale of photocopied books or pages on the allegation that such sale made by the shop was an act of copyright infringement, which in turn has resulted in a considerable loss of their revenue, as students studying at the Delhi University campus have stopped purchasing their text books.
Judgment by Delhi High Court
After considering the grounds of the petitions and examining the provisions under Indian Copyright Act, the court dismissed the petition on the view that photocopying for educational purposes is not an actionable infringement.
The court observed the facts that:
- The photocopier is legally operating his/her business of running a shop under a valid license from the University.
- Delhi University is allowed to make reproductions of these books and articles to foster education and research on the subject and has no intention, whatsoever, to breach the copyright law of publishers. In fact, the students are at full liberty to make Xerox of the textbooks at the libraries.
In consideration to above factual arguments, the court passed the verdict in favor of DU Xerox shop by saying that:-
- If Delhi University can make photocopies, then its licensed agents can surely do the same.
- Photocopying is safeguarded in the Copyright Act if it meant for educational purposes.
- The court has lifted the ban imposed, by the publishers via stay order, on the booksellers and the photocopier to sell the photocopies of chapters from their published text books.
- The photocopied material of these text books can provide immediate and effective convenience to students in preparing for their exams and studies, instead they have to sit for long hours in the confinement of libraries in order to make notes from the text books.
- Lastly it said, “Copyright is not a divine right and it is intended to increase and not to impede the harvest of knowledge.’ and thus, reproduction of copyrighted books for the purpose of spreading education do not fall in the purview of actionable infringement.
A conclusive analysis
The court’s judgment is surely going to benefit both the students as well as photocopier as the observations are completely oriented on the fact that use of copyright in literary work should be to stimulate the creative activity of authors in a way that it should benefit the society as a whole. But, the publishers believe that such widespread creation and disbursement of unlicensed compilation of course-packs by any Xerox shop can hamper the interests of authors, publishers and students. At last, this judgment has made one thing clear i.e. copyright in literary works doesn’t bestow complete and unconditional right to the authors especially in academic and educational field.