Copyright

Oxford University Students and Others Urge OUP to not Appeal to the Supreme Court in the DU Copyright Case


In a latest development pertaining to the DU photocopy case, a group of 122 students, alumni and academics from Oxford University (OU) sent an open letter to the Delegates of the Oxford University Press (OUP) yesterday, urging them to refrain from filing an appeal to the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court Division Bench’s judgment dated December 9, 2016.

As we’d blogged on here and here, this decision held that the making and distribution of course packs by incorporating copyrighted extracts from books is permitted under Section 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act, 1957 as long as it is for the purpose of “educational instruction”.

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.

E-mail Submitting the Petition to OUP Delegates

An e-mail sent by them submitting the petition to one of the OUP Delegates, Prof. Paul Craig, Professor of English Law at OU, reads as follows:

Dear Professor Craig

We write to you as concerned Oxford University academics, students and alumni in relation to the recent decision of the appellate bench of the Delhi High Court in The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford and Ors. v. Rameshwari Photocopy Services and Anr.

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 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 undertaken in the course of instruction. Additionally, the Court recognised the lawfulness of this act, by refusing to grant an injunction against the creation of course packs (containing excerpted material from copyrighted texts) by universities and other educational institutions, as it found that it was clearly within the course of instruction.

In light of the pressing need for knowledge to remain accessible and affordable, we strongly urge you to desist from appealing this progressive decision and in furtherance of the same, share with you our open letter to this end.

Please find attached a PDF copy of the petition and list of signatories.

Many thanks.

Highlights of the Petition

The petition highlights the prohibitively high cost of education and its impact on the resource-constrained developing nations like India. It emphasizes on how the academic texts etc. are often authored by academics at publicly-funded institutions and how academic publishing receives subsidy through free peer reviewing by academics and public funding towards university library budgets etc. The petition draws attention of the Delegates to the relevant extracts from the earlier statement of OUP authors and academics protesting the filing of the suit.

The petition furthers notes that when the creation of course packs is covered by the educational exception in the Copyright Act (Section 52(1)(i)), the question of obtaining a license from IRRO does not arise. It also expresses the signatories’ lack of confidence in the IRRO scheme in the light of the history of mismanagement and malfeasance of Indian collecting societies and the sharp increase in license fees by a collecting society in Canada when a similar system was implemented there.

The petition urges OUP to work with all stakeholders in the academic ecosystem to ensure that the Indian educational exception is given full effect to and thereby promote access to education in India. The petition ends by urging OUP to make its books available at more affordable prices in India and other countries where students are their intended market.

Conclusion

This petition by OU students, alumni and academics to OUP assumes great importance since OUP is a department of OU. The OUP Delegates, who control the affairs of the press and oversee its policy, are appointed from among the professors at OU. Some of the OU professors who are current members of the OUP Delegacy are Prof. Paul Craig and Prof. Andrew Burrows (Professors of Law), Prof. John Vickers (Professor of Economics), Prof. Andrew Hurrel (Professor of International Relations) and Professor Adrian Moore (Professor of Philosophy). 

One hopes that the OUP pays heed to the petition and desists from filing an appeal to the Supreme Court against the path breaking decision of the HC that spelt a spectacular victory for access to education in India.

To read the petition in full,  click here.

To view the list of signatories, click here.

Image from here

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