New Delhi– The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a plea by three international publishers against the sale of photocopied pages of their books by a shop called Rameshwari Photocopy Service in Delhi University’s North Campus. The publishers expressed unhappiness over the decision and hinted at exploring further legal options.
Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, holding that selling of photocopies of portions of books does not amount to infringement of copyright of the publishers, also lifted a ban on the photocopy kiosk from issuing copies of chapters from textbooks of the three international publishers to students.
The court said that photocopying of the relevant pages of the books have only relieved the students from spending days in the library noting down pages after pages of the relevant chapters.
It said: “When modern technology is available for comfort, it would be unfair to say that the students should not avail thereof and continue to study as in ancient era.”
The court added that even clicking photos of the pages of the books by students for use later would also “qualify as fair use”.
“The students can never be expected to buy all the books, different portions whereof are prescribed as suggested reading and can never be said to be the potential customers of the plaintiffs,” said the court.
The court in November 2012 had restrained the shop, located near the Delhi School for Economics, from selling photocopies of text books and related course packs, on a petition moved by publishers including Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis.
After the ban, a group of DU students’ approached the court seeking to vacate the stay order saying most of the books were too expensive.
The international publishing giants had alleged that the kiosk was violating their copyright and at the instance of Delhi University, was causing huge financial losses as students stopped buying their text books.
DU had however supported the photocopiers, saying the use of reproduced copyrighted books by student was a reasonable educational needs and should not be treated as infringement.
The university argued that calling reproduction of copyrighted books for educational purpose as infringement was wrong. Photocopy of copyrighted books at the university’s campus were done by students for preparation of their course and was not meant for commercial exploitation, DU contended.
In the judgment, the publishing houses issued a joint statement saying that “while the verdict is not what we had hoped for, we note the court’s decision on the matter”.
“We brought this case to protect authors, publishers and students from the potential effects on the Indian academic and educational book market caused by the widespread creation and distribution of unlicensed course packs by a copy shop operating from within the premises of the University, where a legitimate and affordable licensing scheme is already in place,” the 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,” it added.
Their suit had then resulted in an interim ban on the shop “making or selling course packs and also reproducing the plaintiff’s publication or substantial portion by compiling the same either in a book form or in the form of a course pack, till the final disposal of the said application”.
The three publishing houses also said that they may pursue further legal action once the full verdict is available to them.(IANS)