Three international publishers on Thursday announced that they were withdrawing from the Delhi High Court a copyright suit against the sale of photocopied pages of their books in Delhi University. The decision is likely to come as a relief to thousands of students who try to save by not buying all books prescribed as suggested reading for their courses.
Putting to an abrupt end a protracted legal battle which started four-and-half-year ago, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis – in a joint statement said, “We have taken a considered decision not to pursue the Delhi University photocopy shop case further in the courts”.
In addition to withdrawing the case from the Delhi High Court, the publishers assured that it was not going to take up the issue before any other higher court, such as the Supreme Court of India.
“We support and seek to enable equitable access to knowledge for students and we understand and endorse the important role that course packs play in the education of students,” the statement reads.
In December last year, the high court had restored the copyright suit by the publishers, after it was briefly dismissed by a single bench judge of the same court, but limited its scope to the issue of the contents of the photocopied course packs and its relevance to the curriculum.
The court had shifted the focus back to the content of the photocopied course packs — which it said will have to be tested by experts — if they were in line with the objective of the course and ‘justified for the purpose of education’.
However, it had allowed Rameshwari Photocopy Service — located near the Delhi School for Economics in north campus — to continue selling copies of chapters from textbooks of the three international publishers to students till the time the issues are settled in court.
The publishers had alleged that the photocopy kiosk was causing huge financial losses as students had stopped buying their text books.
The University of Delhi had argued that the Copyright Act, 1957 permits students and educational institutions to copy portions from any work for research and educational purpose.
The photocopy shop had argued that its activity does not affect the market for the publishers’ since it charges a nominal rate for its services. It had argued that the students cannot afford to buy all the books, extracts of which were mentioned in the syllabi prepared by the Delhi School of Economics.