Case Analysis: Rameshwari Photocopy Case

Sarthak Dutt

Introduction:

A division bench of Delhi High Court in its landmark judgement held that certain sections of the Copyright act of 1957 does not amount to Copyright Infringement.

By the passing of this Judgement it was settled that Education institutions do not infringe Section 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act, 1957 by simply photocopying certain portions of different books to formulate course packs that fall under the syllabus. However, this act of photocopying must be justified by educational instruction. It was further held that for formulating such course packs or study material, the educational institutions do not require the permission of the publisher if they are necessary to the students and only for purpose of instructional use.[1]

1.  Three publishing house Oxford University Press(UK), Cambridge University Press (UK) (Ind) and Taylor and Francis (UK) (Ind) filed a case against Rameshwari Photocopy which is an authorised vendor in Delhi University north campus.

2.  Publishers and Authors held that the Study material that was been sold by the vendor in the form of ‘course packs’ by photocopying certain chapters from the authorised books which infringes the Intellectual rights of actual owners of the work.

  • This restricts the students to buy full-fledged books. This hinders the amount of Royalty the authors/ publishers earn if each and every student buys the ‘Course Pack’.
  • The photocopy shop claimed that they photocopied the books to save students money and make education affordable.
  • A case was filed under the Delhi High Court against Rameshwari Photocopy shop by the publishers for Infringement of their Intellectual Property Rights under the Copyrights Act of 1957.

The Chancellor Master and Scholars of the University Of Oxford

Vs

Rameshwari Photocopy Services

(2016) 16 DRJ (SN) 678

Issues:

  1. Weather making “Course Packs” by the Rameshwari photocopy vendor amounts to Copyright infringement of Authors and Publishers.
  2. Weather the act of making “Course packs” or selected reading material by the vendor would decrease Authors royalty which they earn from publishers.

Rules:

[Section 14(a) (i) and (ii)] of the Copyright Act of 1957 states that

The owner of a copyright has exclusive rights to authorise a person to reproduce the work in any material and to publish the work.

[Section 52]

It provides for fair dealing under which any material copied for private or personal use including research would not amount to infringement or piracy provided no commercialisation or economic benefit is involved.

[Section 52 (1) (i)]

The expression in the following “utilization of the copyrighted work would be a fair use to the extent justified for purpose of education. It would have no concern with the extent of the material used, bothqualitative or quantitative”[2]. From the following line quoted it was held that the copyrighted work being used will be for the purpose of Educational institutions to flourish knowledge and not to impede it.

The word ‘reproduction’ as mentioned in the relevant section meaning ‘a copy of’ in its plural sense includes more than one copy of the original or photocopying. Similarly, it was held that the word ‘teacher’ and ‘student’ also means ‘teachers’ and ‘students’ and thus concluded that making multiple copies of work by teachers and students is contemplated under these provisions.

The court also took references from a US case law Cambridge University Press VS Becker[3] wherein it was stated that reproducing a work less than 10% of a book constitute a ‘fair use’. In the following case it was related to economic copies but a same logic was applied to physical copies as well.

Analysis:

The Delhi High Court rejected Plaintiff’s contention keeping the interest of students in mind. My take on this Judgement would be:

  1. The Court should have taken a wider view to curb this practice of Copyright Infringement
  2. Just because it wants to impart education to students at a minimum tuition fee does not mean it has right to infringe Authors and Publishers work created through the way of their original work.

Conclusion:

Copyright is a Statutory right and not a natural right which can be modified and cannot be promulgated to public at large as in when the body whodoesn’t provide benefit to the people. Copyright is intended to increase knowledge and not to impede knowledge. It is for the benefit of public. Legal bodies should be formulated in order to act as watchdogs in cases of Copyright infringement. This body will keep a check on the protection of Copyright issues and duties of Publication houses/authors. Educational Institutions should be compliant with the norms made by such Administrative bodies.

Suggestions:

In my view a government body needs to be formulated to keep a check on Copyright issues. Photocopying should be allowed only when an authorised license has been obtained from the registered proprietor. After paying a nominal fee and consent from the authorised proprietor or the Licensor it can be used. The role of India Reprographic Rights Organisations was not even considered in the appropriate judgement which makes no sense in instituting a Copyright Society to Educational Institutions. The judgement in the following case was a narrow view taken by Delhi High Court and its general applicability across the country was arbitrary and unreasonable.

References:

  1. Lawtimesjournal.in
  2. Spicyip.com
  3. Youtube.com
  4. i Pleaders.in

[1]http://lawtimesjournal.in/university-of-oxford-vs-rameshwari-photocopy-services-an-analysis/

[2]https://spicyip.com/resources-links/du-photocopy-case

[3]Cambridge Univ. Press v. Becker, May 11 2012, 863 F. Supp. 2d 1190 (N.D. Ga. 2012),

https://casetext.com/case/cambridge-univ-press-v-becker