In a landmark judgement, the Delhi High Court ruled on Friday that photocopies of major textbooks is not an infringement of copyright. The ruling is certain to bring joy to the students who rely on cheaper photocopies – often course packs – of costly textbooks for studies.
According to the reports, the court observed that “copyright is not a divine right” while pronouncing the judgement in favour of a campus-based photocopy shop.
“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,” Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw observed. The court held that when texts are used by DU for imparting education and not commercial sale, it can’t infringe on copyright of the publishers.
The court also observed that copyright “is intended to increase and not to impede the harvest of knowledge”.
Section 52 of the Copyright Act exempts education from copyright infringement. The court reportedly said that the contractor, Rameshwari Photocopy Service, enjoys protection. The shop in North Campus was sued by international publishers, including Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis, for copyright infringement in 2012. The shop was accused of selling compilations of photocopied portions of different books prescribed by DU. Responding to the verdict, the publishers in a joint statement said, “It is unfortunate that the court’s decision today could undermine the availability of original content for the benefit of students and teachers.”