Textbook photocopying row: Booster shot for student community at Delhi High Court

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Updated: December 9, 2016 7:56:37 PM

Today, Delhi High Court upheld the order to allow sale of textbook photocopies in DU campus. This has been interpreted by many as a victory for the wider public interest, especially student community, of ensuring affordable access to quality educational material.

Delhi High Court upheld the order to allow sale of textbook photocopies in DU campus. (PTI)Delhi High Court upheld the order to allow sale of textbook photocopies in DU campus. (PTI)

According to a verdict by the Delhi High Court in the month of September, that photocopying portions of academic publications which helps to make course packs for students, does not amount to copyright infringement. Today, Delhi High Court upheld the order to allow sale of textbook photocopies in DU campus. This has been interpreted by many as a victory for the wider public interest, especially student community, of ensuring affordable access to quality educational material.

The question of law that arose in the suit filed by the three foreign publishers, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis was whether the making of course packs by the Delhi University can be photocopied in stores. Numerous copies of all courses are made and widely disseminated. All the material is drawn from different books. This amounted to copyright infringement as per the publishers, but they found no sympathy in the court. The publishers had alleged that kiosks were violating their copyrights by sale of compilations of of parts of books in the form of course packs. The Court had then issued an interim stay against a kiosk in October 2012.

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With this the court gives freedom to the students to photocopy as much of any text as they like, as long as they do so in the course of academic instruction. For the student community this has come a a big booster shot. While the wealthy among them will not be much affected, if at all, the poor, who form a massive majority, will now be able to access the best books available to prepare for their exams. And now, they can access this material without feeling guilty or even fear as it is all legitimate.

“As Publishers, we are fully committed to the ongoing creation of high quality knowledge and learning materials across all disciplines and subjects. We are also committed to finding ways to enable students and researchers around the world to access these materials on an equitable basis,” Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis said in a joint statement. They added, “We will consider this judgement in more detail over the coming days. In the meantime, we wish to reiterate that all publishers continue to work on models that will enable equitable access to knowledge.”

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