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DU’s Photocopy Shop Wins The Copyright Case Against Foreign Publishers

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On Friday, the Delhi High court dismissed suits by three famous international publishers against the sale of photocopied books and pages in Delhi University. This rare verdict is looked as a boon for copyright laws in India. It is expected to have a massive impact on the laws of copyright across different parts of the country.

Further, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw also lifted the ban on the photocopy kiosk from printing copies of chapters from the textbooks of the three international publishers for student use.

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The beginning of the legal battle dates to November 2012, when the court banned the famous Rameshwari Photocopy Service near Delhi School of Economics in north campus. This action was triggered by the petition filed by publishers including University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor&Francis.

These international publishing names alleged that the kiosk violated their copyright and caused them huge financial losses as students stopped buying their textbooks. However, the university showed full support to the photocopiers claiming that the use of reproduced books by students arouse out of an educational need. The university urged that this should not be seen as a violation because it’s purely for educational purposes.

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The students rallied behind the kiosk, saying most of the books were way too expensive and therefore they preferred photocopies. The University argued that calling reproduction of copyrighted books for educational purposes as violation was “wrong”. The terms under the Copyright Act, 1957, clearly exempt “fair use” of work including educational purposes from the purview of violation.

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It further supported its stand by claiming that photocopy of copyrighted books within the campus is merely done by students in order to fulfill their educational needs and not for commercial exploitation.

Intellectual property experts greeted the verdict, saying that the court correctly upheld the greater good of society over private property. “Copyright laws are meant to balance public and private interests but in recent years, the public interest has been eroded due to lobbying. The HC has restored that balance”, said Shamnad Basheer, intellectual property expert.

The court has in fact said that copyright is not divine and that education is an important social need. This is to be seen as a huge moment.

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Analysts also pointed out that this verdict definitely puts India at the centre stage of a global debate on intellectual property right, first initiated three years ago, when the Supreme court denied a patent to pharmacy major Novartis.

This HC verdict undoubtedly sends out a crystal clear signal that this country won’t follow global trends that have a tendency to side with private copyright demands, the analysts added further.

“We are not going to blindly adhere to western norms. We will look at our laws and requirements. This judgment cements that stand.” Basheer said.

Students find the books very expensive and feel there’s no use of buying a costly book when it will be valid for around six months only. Photocopy of the copyrighted books has always been a respite for college students. The verdict by the HC has put the students in a comfortable position.



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