In an important verdict bound to have a far-reaching impact on copyright laws in India, the Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed suits by three international publishers against the sale of photocopied content in Delhi University.
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw also lifted a ban on the photocopier kiosk, which means that similar shops can now photocopy and sell content taken from published texts.
Claiming that "copyright is not a divine right," Justice Endlaw observed that photocopying material for educational purposes was an exception to the Copyright Act,1957. He concluded that there was no need for a trial because "no actionable infringement" was taking place, reported Scroll.
After a petition was moved by the noted publishers Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis in 2012, the High Court had banned a popular photocopy shop located in Delhi University's North Campus.
The publishers had complained that the kiosks were violating their copyright and causing financial losses to them. The publishers had also claimed that students had stopped buying textbooks, preferring to simply purchase or copy relevant chapters at a meagre amount.
Delhi University had, at the time, protested against the ban, claiming that students were not using the photocopied material for commercial use, but only for educational purposes.
While the verdict was clearly not what the publishers had hoped for, the Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Taylor & Francis put out a joint statement saying that they would consider the Court's full judgement and would then decide upon the next course of action.
The statement read:
"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 [Delhi] University, where a legitimate and affordable licensing scheme is already in place. It is unfortunate that the court's decision today could undermine the availability of original content for the benefit of students and teachers.
"We will be considering the full judgement when it is made available, and shall decide the next course of action after consultation with our legal teams."
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