THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS & SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD AND ORS vs. RAMESHWARI PHOTOCOPY SERVICES AND DELHI UNIVERSITY

CITATION: (2016) 160 DRJ (SN) 678

Background of Case

In the landmark case three publishers which is the Chancellor, Master & Scholars of Oxford University and Others, merged dated August 2012 filed a lawsuit in and the corporation is being sued and permanent injunction by the High Court of Delhi. Rameshwari Photocopyies Services and Delhi University have accused them of copyright infringement. They alleged infringement as a result of a fact that defendants’ copies collect content from their book and compile it into course bundles and study materials. They claimed to have that defendants’ act infringes on Section 51 Copyright Act.

In India, copyright law is regulated by the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012. India initially refused to join the WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) and WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) organizations but did so eventually in 2013.

The project must be maintained in a tangible form of expressions, such as words on a piece of paper or music notes written on a sheet, to qualify under the copyright law. Copyright protection is relevant throughout India in the following work:

  • Original Literary
  • Dramatic
  • Artistic work
  • Cinematograph films
  • Sound recording

Issues

  • The publishers’ claim it was an infringement of copyright.
  • Whether copying of excerpts from books making course pack is legal or not.

Covered Legal Areas

The High Court of Delhi division bench handed down a milestone decision in a case involving Copyright Law. Bypassing this decision, it was determined that educational institutions should not breach Section 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act, 1957 of India by photocopying parts of various books to create study materials or curriculum sets that come under the syllabus. Educational organizations, on the contrary, must justify this act of photocopying. It was decided that if the course modules or study guides are required for the student and only for instructional or educational purposes, the educational institution does not need the publisher’s permission to create them.

Plaintiff Arguments

In this lawsuit, the plaintiffs are three well-known publishers. The plaintiff is seeking a permanent injunction and has provided a list of at least four defendants who have violated their copyright and have satisfied the following:

  1. Defendant 1 developed the course pack based on defendant 2’s curriculum.
  2. The defendant 2 faculty advises and encourages students to purchase these packs rather than the original books as these were cheap and available to all students at a reasonable cost.
  3. Defendant 2 is supplying defendant 1 with the plaintiff’s library books.
  4. The defendants photocopy and assemble the study packs with the goal of making a profit. The use of different sections of the plaintiff’s books results in the publishing of their work, which is a violation of their copyrights.

Defendant Arguments

The defendants Delhi University (DU) and Rameshwari Photocopy Shop argued that there is no violation but in some way plaintiff’s copyright is, arguing:

  1. No evidence to support the plaintiffs’ contention that they own the rights to those books.
  2. The photocopying act is covered by Sections 51(1) (a) and (h), which are copyright exceptions.
  3. Defendant 1 is licensed to provide Xerox to the pupil who needs and staff of Defendant 2. Defendant 2’s path is very broad, and it’s distributed through many books by various writers.
  4. These study packs are created for the students’ affordability and convenience. Since only a few paragraphs or excerpts from books are recommended in different publications, carrying 20-40 books would be impractical for students.
  5. Since most of these books are costly, they are held in the defendant 2 libraries for students’ use, and photocopies of these books are created to ensure that every student has access to and can use the content.
  6. These research packs are intended solely for educational and instructional purposes.
  7. Under Section 76 of the Copyright Act, Defendant 1 acted in good faith. Furthermore, The Copyright Act is a welfare law, according to Defendant 2, and also benefits of society should be examined as the owner’s and writers rights. They didn’t have any books for defendant 1 to reproduce, and they didn’t allow defendant 1 to photocopy on their ground.

High Court’s Verdict

The Association of Students for Equal Access to Knowledge is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all students have equal reach to (ASEAK), in 2013 move ahead to the High Court as a necessary party to suit. Their proposal was approved in its entirety by the court in connection to Delhi University (DU) students and could take a really strong stand “for educational purposes only”. They contended that the study packs are a good way to ensure that everyone gets an equal education. The request of SPEAK was being considered by the Court. The copyright infringement lawsuit filed by a foreign publisher against selling of photocopied books and pages in Delhi University was dismissed by the High Court.

Section 52(1)(i)is an exception to copyright andallows for the replication of some work in the course of learning,

  1. Whether by the teacher or a student.
  2. As part of an assessment, question to be answered.
  3. In answer to such question.

According to Delhi High Court, a literary work’s copyright is not guaranteed, the legal or divine right conferred on an author. It says that Copyright laws are meant to expand information rather than limit it people shouldn’t be made to sit in libraries and take notes, according to the court.

Analysis

This historic decision was made with the broadest possible perspective in mind. Here, we understood that Copyright is the author’s legal privilege, which it is to some extent. The verdict, in this case, throw light on Section 52 of the Copyright Act which is an exception and it played a significant role in this landmark case.

Analyzing some parts of the case that dealt with Section 52 was crucial in framing the verdict. The courtroom acknowledged that copyright isn’t a natural right, that photocopying original literary works are an exclusive right of the copyright owner and that DU’s creation of printed copies would be a violation of Section 51 unless it was done in good intention. The court found the distinction between the University library issuing a public copy of the book and Delhi University photocopying the work. Section 14(a) (ii) “to print a number of copies to the public” cannot be translated as “make copies of work.”

Analyzing the ruling of the High Court, the verdict was in accused interest because all children cannot spend a high amount to buy expensive books, so the sale and production of compiled courses were affordable and inexpensive for any student to purchase. The court’s ultimate aim was to harvest knowledge rather than to block it.

Both current copyright systems ensure that unauthorized copying of copyrighted work is not considered a violation of copyright. In such cases, the court or some other authoritative body must prioritize the other interest over the owner’s copyright argument in the interest of justice. The Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act, 1988 of the United Kingdom were amended on June 1, 2014, to include three additional legislative instruments. The restrictions and constraints to performers and copyright in areas of research, libraries, education, and the public were amended by these legislative instruments.

It isn’t easy to locate study materials in various books published by major publishing houses. Various difficulties, whether financial or otherwise, can occur when doing so. So, if a person wants to get a higher education without spending a fortune, he would rather copy the relevant material than buy such expensive books.

Conclusion

Case filed by the publication houses was just to fix the photocopy shop’s delivery of the contents of their publication work caused a decline in their market. The plaintiff alleges that “publishers are not charity houses, and why should publishers be giving out their works for free,” despite the truth that the authors were paying a large sum to print and sell their written content. Every decision has a pros and cons impact. The pros impact is people will get information very easily, less financial pressure on students, assist students who are from the backward area where books availability is still a problem. The cons impact is IPR is infringed upon, the creativity would be imparted, the publisher loses a royalty.


Authored By: Jigar R. Lakdawala, 4th Year, Department of Law, Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, Surat.

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