In a well-reasoned judgement (The Chancellor Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford v. Rameshwari Photocopy Service), The Delhi High Court recently ruled that photocopying of course material and essays from various published text material doesn’t amount to infringement of the Copyright Act. This is in response to a petition filed by three publishers – Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor and Francis, against Rameshwari photocopy booth at the Delhi School of Economics in 2012. The publishers claimed that compilation of course material and photocopying from published material amounts to the violation of the right, a claim rebutted by the defendants.
In the judgement, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw reminded the petitioners that copyright is a statutory and not a natural right, thus upholding the reasonable restrictions on the practice of the right. Invoking Section 52(1) of the act which: i) allows for the reproduction of any work by a teacher or a pupil in the course of instruction; or ii) as part of the questions to be answered in an examination; or iii) in answers to such questions’, he went on to say that copying material for promulgation of knowledge and scholarship doesn’t amount to any infringement. Advancement in technology, which has facilitated efficient means of acquiring information, he claimed, furthers the premise of the Copyright Act, which is to spread accessibility to accurate knowledge.
The case was closely watched by the students and teachers alike. Various organisations like Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge and Society for Promoting Educational Access and Knowledge came forward to support the defendant.
With this, the years old stay on the Rameswari photocopy booth has been lifted. The publishers are not satisfied with the verdict and may file an appeal in the apex court.