In an op-ed in the Hindu, we highlighted an egregious copyright law-suit slapped against Delhi University and its photocopier by leading foreign publishers. The IFFRO (International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisation) and its partner organisations which collect moneys on behalf of publishers issued a response to this piece, expectantly touting the virtues of acquiring a copyright license from them.
Unfortunately, owing to space constraints, we could only offer a pithy rebuttal to their response in the Hindu.
Below is a more elaborate version of our rebuttal.
(For those who came in late, here is a short jingly version of what this law suit is really about)
For those interested in tracking the case, see updates on SpicyIP
An Irrefusable Offer:
In their response, the IFRRO and its counterparts once again offer the option of a tantalizingly cheap copyright license, repeatedly stressing the “reasonableness” of their offer.
Continue reading Of Gandhi and a Godfatherly Copyright Offer: Shamnad Basheer and Lawrence Liang
Three large academic publishers – Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis – have filed a petition in the Delhi High Court claiming copyright infringement with regard to the course packs used by students of Delhi University in a number of disciplines. It is clear from DU’s stance in court that they are distancing themselves from the photocopier, thus clearing the way for the Court to pass an injunction staying the sale of course packs. It is absolutely critical now for academics and authors to step up our campaign in support of our students’ access to learning materials:
Please sign the on-line petition at the link below:
“…As authors and educators, we would like to place on record our distress at this act of the publishers, as we recognize the fact that in a country like India marked by sharp economic inequalities, it is often not possible for every student to obtain a personal copy of a book. In that situation the next best thing would have been for multiple copies of the book to be available in the library so that students are able to access these books without any difficulty. But given the constraints that libraries in India work with, they may only have a single copy of a book and in many instances, none at all. The reason we make course packs is to ensure that students have access to the most relevant portions of the book without which we would be seriously compromising their education….”
Guest post by Danish Sheikh
The first day of law school, we were handed 5 sets of non-aesthetically pleasing spiral bound sheets of paper. They contained a jumble of articles from eclectic sources; varied in size from a 150 pages to this-is-going-to-sprain-my-arm; and when relied on by the instructor, were absolutely indispensable. The course packs were provided by the university at a reasonable fee, and soon became an integral part of our legal education. True, there were occasional classes where a textbook was imposed on you by the professor, but again, it was often possible to track down a helpful senior’s tattered copy. Only if you got truly unlucky did you have to deplete your dwindling student resources to fork out money for a 500 page hardbound tome.
Continue reading Fair Use and Course Packs: A Comparative Perspective : Danish Sheikh
This is an op ed which was written for the Indian Express and addresses some of the key issues in the ongoing copyright case filed against Rameshwari Photocopy services and the Delhi university. I am reposting it here for now. It is a little truncated because of the word limit for newspapers but will post a longer version with comparisons from other countries.
Oxford and Cambridge University Publishers v. Students of India
Accompanying a team conducting a raid against a photocopying shop outside AIIMS a few years ago a copyright lawyer had a moment of revelation akin to the apocryphal story of St Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus when Paul was asked by God “Why do you persecute me?”. In this case even as the photocopier was being arrested he defiantly turned to the lawyer and said “If I don’t sell these photocopies where do you think your doctors are going to come from? The lawyer in question is now a leading expert on copyright and public interest and one wonders whether a similar question posed to the lawyers representing Oxford and Cambridge University Press would evoke a similar change of heart especially if they considered their own route to becoming lawyers. The fact of the matter is that in most academic disciplines textbooks are extremely expensive and unaffordable for the average student and if one attempted to buy all the books which are prescribed for a course it would mean that only very few privileged students would afford an education in India. Continue reading Oxford and Cambridge University Publishers v. Students of India