Breaking News: Student Association Impleaded in Access to Education (DU Photocopy) Case

In a momentous development, the Delhi High Court permitted an association of students to intervene in a highly controversial law suit filed by leading publishers against Delhi University (DU) and its photocopier. 
Here is the link to the intervention petition filed on behalf of the “Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge” by Jawahar Raja and Rajat Kumar, two Delhi based lawyers, who’ve been at the forefront of several legal battles to secure social justice. They were led by counsel Sanjay Parekh who forcefully presented the matter to the court.

For background to this law suit, you can read Lawrence Liangs’ potent piece in Kafila and my editorial in the Indian Express. For a more entertaining rendition, you can watch this Youtube video featuring a catchy copyright jingle. 

The academic community, including students and faculty have been up in arms against this rather aggressive law suit which seeks to prohibit course packs altogether. Noted Nobel Laureate, Prof Amartya Sen expressed his distress at the law suit and decried this attempt to profiteer at the expense of students. So did Prof Kaushik Sunder Rajan

The publishers’ naturally objected to the student intervention and argued that even if intervention is admitted, it should be limited to points of law. The judge however disagreed and held that the student association would be admitted as a full fledged party to the law suit, with the ability to file a written statement and lead evidence etc. 

For those interested in tracking this case that will test the bounds of educational exception and fair use under our copyright act, please see this link which contains all our previous posts on the issue.  To make it simpler, I’m outlining a brief trajectory of the unfortunate law suit and its unfolding:

i) Leading publishers sue Delhi University (DU) and its photocopier (Rameshwari) for copyright infringement in August 2012.

ii) An injunction allegedly restraining DU and the photocopier ensue in October 2012, owing to an unfortunate grammatical (mis) construct.

iii) Delhi University appeals the order in November 2012. The appellate court asks them to file a review petition before the single judge. However they opt to file an Order 39 Rule 4 application for vacating the restraining order. This application is now before Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw. Although the matter came up on Tuesday (26th Feb), it was not taken up by the judge. The matter is now posted for April 25th.

The student association has been given two weeks to file their written statement. As for the main documents pertaining to this case, see below:
i) The Plaint filed by leading publishers (OUP, CUP and Taylor & Francis)
ii) The Written Statement filed by DU
iii)  The Student Intervention Petition

Kudos to Jawahar Raja and Rajat Kumar (who took up the matter probono) and to the many students who toiled hard to secure the admission of this intervention. From this blog, Amlan Mohanty and Sai Vinod have been playing leading roles as law students at the forefront of this struggle to ensure equitable access to education. 

Shamnad Basheer

Prof. (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer founded SpicyIP in 2005. He's also the Founder of IDIA, a project to train underprivileged students for admissions to the leading law schools. He served for two years as an expert on the IP global advisory council (GAC) of the World Economic Forum (WEF). In 2015, he received the Infosys Prize in Humanities in 2015 for his work on legal education and on democratising the discourse around intellectual property law and policy. The jury was headed by Nobel laureate, Prof. Amartya Sen. Professional History: After graduating from the NLS, Bangalore Prof. Basheer joined Anand and Anand, one of India’s leading IP firms. He went on to head their telecommunication and technology practice and was rated by the IFLR as a leading technology lawyer. He left for the University of Oxford to pursue post-graduate studies, completing the BCL, MPhil and DPhil as a Wellcome Trust scholar. His first academic appointment was at the George Washington University Law School, where he served as the Frank H Marks Visiting Associate Professor of IP Law. He then relocated to India in 2008 to take up the MHRD Chaired Professorship in IP Law at WB NUJS, a leading Indian law school. Later, he was the Honorary Research Chair of IP Law at Nirma University and also a visiting professor of law at the National Law School (NLS), Bangalore. Prof. Basheer has published widely and his articles have won awards, including those instituted by ATRIP, the Stanford Technology Law Review and CREATe. He was consulted widely by the government, industry, international organisations and civil society on a variety of IP issues. He also served on several government committees.

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