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HC reserves verdict on foreign publishers’ plea against Rameshwari photocopy services

HC reserves verdict on foreign publishers’ plea against Rameshwari photocopy services
The Delhi high court on Monday stuck to its judgement on a petition by leading foreign publishers against a single-judge verdict allowing sale of photocopies of textbooks published by them by a shop located at the Delhi University (DU) campus.

A Bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Yogesh Khanna concluded hearing arguments in the matter during which the DU came out in support of the photocopier, saying public interest of students should be given priority over private interest.

However, the publishers - Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press (UK), Cambridge University Press India Pvt Ltd, Taylor and Francis Group (UK) and Taylor and Francis Books India Pvt Ltd - sought reversal of the single judge September 16 order contending that sale of photocopies of books published by them affect their market share.

Their submissions was opposed by senior advocate Aman Sinha, appearing for DU, on the ground that “object of Copyright Act is to increase knowledge and not to impede it”.

“We are developing country with limited resources and huge population and public interest comprising of students, teachers, education has to be given priority over private interest of only handful of copyright owners for financial gains,” he told the bench.

Sinha referred to the provisions of the Copyright Act 1957, and said language of the statute is “clear and unambiguous” and section 52(1)(i) has been specifically incorporated for the benefit of students.

“Thus, a beneficial legislation has to be construed and interpreted in a manner which will benefit the students who are the purported beneficiaries of this legislation,” he said.

Countering the submissions, senior advocate Pratibha M Singh and advocate Saikrishna Rajgopal, who appeared for the petitioners, said their clients also provide customised content and sale of photocopies of books published by them affect their market share.

“The university, colleges and photocopiers should take a licence before xeroxing material published by petitioners,” Singh said, adding that petitioners are not just publishing textbooks but are providing content online and provisions of the Act have to be interpreted as per “digital exploitation” of the material. “Simply by arguing public interest, copyright cannot be trampled upon. 

The section 52(1)(i) of the Act has to be interpreted correctly in law,” she said. The publishers have approached the division bench against the September 16 order claiming Rameshwari Photocopy Service in DU was infringing upon their copyright over the text books.
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