DU Photocopiers: 122 Oxford signatories urge OUP not to appeal “progressive judgment”

Nalini Sharma

A group of Oxford University academics, students, and alumni has asked the Oxford University Press to not appeal against the Delhi High Court decision in the DU Photocopiers Case.

As first reported by SpicyIP, an email was sent by a group of 122 signatories to one of the OUP delegates, Prof. Paul Craig, who is a Professor of English Law at Oxford, urging him to refrain from filing an appeal.

Earlier last year, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw had pronounced a landmark judgment that hinged on the exceptions to copyright infringement mentioned in Section 52 of the Copyright Act of 1957.

In December, the Division Bench of Pradeep Nandrajog and Yogesh Khanna, JJ. had set aside the finding of the single bench, holding that “no triable issue on fact” arose, and restored the suit.

Refusing to grant an injunction to the consortium of international publishers against Rameshwari Photocopy Services, the Division Bench had held,

“We declare that the law in India would not warrant an approach to answer the question by looking at whether the course pack has become a textbook, but by considering whether the inclusion of the copyrighted work in the course pack was justified by the purpose of the course pack i.e. for instructional use by the teacher to the class and this would warrant an analysis of the course pack with reference to the objective of the course, the course content and the list of suggested readings given by the teacher to the students.

This would require expert evidence, and we shall pass appropriate directions on this while bringing the curtains down.”

In favour of this judgment, the letter states,

“As you will appreciate, this judgment affirms the right of students to access photocopied copyrighted materials, so long as this is justified by the purpose of educational instruction. Pertinently, the court gave a meaningful, purposive interpretation to section 52(1)(i) of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, which allows the reproduction of any work by a teacher or a pupil in the course of instruction. And refused to grant an injunction against the creation of course packs (containing excerpted material from copyrighted texts) by universities and other educational institutions.”

The initiative for the petition was taken by a group of students at OU including Arushi Garg, Sanya Samtani, Deepa Kurup, Gopika Lekshmi and Navya Jannu. The students state in their plea,

“We strongly urge you to desist from appealing this progressive decision. Given the increasing privatization of knowledge goods across the world, the cost of education has reached prohibitively expensive levels. Even resource-rich universities in developed countries are reeling under the impact of this sharp increase in prices.

Institutions such as Harvard University have urged their faculty members to publish in more open access journals, citing the exorbitant cost of subscriptions to be “academically restrictive” and “fiscally untenable.” In this context, the High Court decision is a much-welcomed development, particularly for resource-constrained developing countries such as India.

Given the University of Oxford’s reputation as a truly global institution that has recently tried to foreground diversity and inclusion, we would be disappointed if this step is undertaken. As students, authors and academics who have been associated with OUP in different ways, we are greatly aggrieved by this curtailment of Indian students’ access to knowledge.”

The complete list of the signatories can be seen here.

Read the complete open letter below.

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news