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Q. Delhi High Court verdict on copyright: Comment on recent verdict of Delhi High Court on copyright issue.
Sep 21, 2016 Related to : GS paper-3

Ans :

Introduction-

Recently Delhi High ruled that the photocopying of course packs prepared by Delhi University comprising portions from books published by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis does not amount to infringement of copyright.

Issue-

The suit related to copyright violation was initiated by the publishing majors, which had sued Delhi University and Photocopying Service providers, claiming infringement of copyright by engaging in preparing copies of course packs with portions culled out of its books in keeping with the syllabus prescribed by the varsity.

View of High Court-

  • The Delhi High court said, copyright is not a natural or common law right in India, but is subject to statute. So photocopying for academic purposes is not an infringement as Section 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act permits the making of copies of literary works by a teacher or pupil for academic purposes.

  • Court in its verdict held that copyright is not an inevitable, divine, or natural right that confers on authors about absolute ownership of their creations.

  • Rather it is designed to stimulate activity and progress in the arts for the intellectual enrichment of the common public.

  • Court also opined that copyright is intended to increase and not to impede the harvest of knowledge. It is intended to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors in order to benefit the common people.

Analysis-

  • India copyrights laws contain provisions barring infringement of copyright and listing acts that do not constitute infringement. These provisions are aimed to balance copyright protection with the public interest in ensuring access.

  • The above judgement of Delhi High Court has been interpreted as a victory for the wider public interest of ensuring affordable access to quality educational material.

  • But the verdict raises question, whether the making of course packs by the Delhi University by authorising a photocopying store to make numerous copies of course material drawn from different books amounts to copyright infringement.

  • Similarly the verdict may justly raise the concern whether conferring unrestricted reprographic rights on academic institutions will drive reputed publishers out of the field of education.

  • It is true that academic publications, especially international ones, are expensive, putting them beyond the reach of many students. But the question is whether the balance between the competing interests has been fully preserved in the law.

  • In such situations reputed publishers may feel insufficient copyright protection and may back out of educational publishing in the country, which is again goes against the interest of public.

  • Hence Government should look on this issue and establish such provisions under copyright law, which protects interest of both publishers as well as public.

Conclusion-

Recent verdict of Delhi High Court on copyright infringement has raised several questions on copyright protection. Though verdict uphold interest off common public, but to some extent it made publisher unsecure. In this backdrop India need to protect interest of public as well as publishers, so those publishers also feels secure and provide services to public in their academics.


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