Delhi High Court restores copyright infringement case at Delhi University

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Monday, December 12, 2016

On Friday, the Delhi High Court restored a trial over claims of copyright infringement from photocopying of study materials for Delhi University (DU) course packs.

Delhi University
Image: Seek1.

The charges of violation of copyright by DU's Rameshwari Photocopy Service was dismissed by justice Rajiv Sahan Endlaw in September saying there is no copyright infringement. But the bench of justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Yogesh Khanna said the case raises a "triable issue".

The bench restored the case, meanwhile still allowing the Rameshwari Photocopy Service to sell course packs containing copyrighted material of the publications of claimants Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Taylor and Francis. The shop has been asked to report to the court every six months on what and how many course packs it photocopies and distributes.

The owner of the photocopy service shop, Dharam Pal Singh, said there was no reason for preparation of a course pack beyond the curriculum. He said the course pack had only readings the professors require or recommend; only important sections of the published books were photocopied.

"We declare that the law in India would not warrant an approach to answer the question by looking at whether the course pack has become a textbook, but by considering whether the inclusion of the copyrighted work in the course pack was justified by the purpose of the course pack", the bench said.

Dharam Pal said the students needed course packs because some books are limited by "availability, price and circulation". He said they are preserving data of some books last published more than half a century ago, and that some of the books cost more than  2000.

The High Court said it needs "expert evidence" to judge whether it is copyright violation or, as judge Sahani ruled, a fair use.

The case of copyright infringement was filled in the court in 2012. In September, Justice Endlaw said that, according to Section 52 of the Copyright Act, this instructional use did not amount to copyright infringement. He said, "Copyright, specially in literary works, is thus not an inevitable, divine, or natural right that confers on authors the absolute ownership of their creations." Endlaw added, "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 public."

Sources

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