Caught in a raging copyright war between three international textbook publishers and a photocopy shop in the campus, the Delhi University (DU) has assured the Delhi high court that it will take all steps to prevent rights infringement.
Justice Kailash Gambhir has recorded the statement given by DU registrar Alka Sharma in the form of an affidavit on October 18.
The University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis had on August 14 moved Delhi high court against the shop Rameshwari Photocopy Service and DU, accusing them of infringing copyright laws.The publishers alleged that the photocopiers "at the instance of DU" were reproducing their publications.
But the university sought to distance itself from the row. “The university imparts education to students of all categories. There may be economically weak students… Therefore the university cannot be accused of any infringement of the copyright of publishers,” it said.
DU said it was in the process of forming a committee of the heads of various departments to explore ways to ensure wider access to educational materials to students “and simultaneously take care of the rights of the publishers”.
Students and teachers, however, are unhappy with the development. “Course packs — readings from different books combined to form one pack — are key part of our preparations. At times, we are supposed to make close to 50 readings from different books for a subject. Do the publishers expect us to buy 50 books each of which costs upwards of Rs. 900?” said Mahima Jha, a Master’s student at the Delhi School for Economics.
Students of the D-School, where the Rameshwari Photocopy Service is located, are also planning to go from college to college to talk to students about how this decision will impact each one of them.
A protest march to demand equitable access to knowledge will also be held in the university on November 7.
Various scholars, including Nobel Prize-winner Amartya Sen and JNU professor Nivedita Menon, have spoken out against the publishers’ decision to move court against the shop.