As all of you already know, last week, the publishers (OUP, CUP and T&F) surprisingly withdrew the copyright infringement suit filed against DU and Rameshwari photocopy shop in 2012 for creation and distribution of course packs containing excerpts from their copyrighted books. While the reason for the withdrawal is not clear, it is heartening to note that the publishers, in a public statement released on March 9, expressed their intention to work “even more closely with academic institutions, teachers and students to understand and address their needs…”. The statement reads as follows:
“We have taken a considered decision not to pursue the Delhi University Photocopy shop case further in the courts and will today be filing an application with the Delhi High Court to withdraw as plaintiffs. In addition, we will not be submitting an appeal to the Supreme Court of India, following the Delhi High Court Division Bench appeal decision of 09 December, 2016.
We continue to stand by our principles stated throughout this case. We support and seek to enable equitable access to knowledge for students and we understand and endorse the important role that course packs play in the education of students. We support our authors in helping them produce materials of the highest standard and we maintain that copyright law plays an important part in balancing the interests of those creating, curating, and disseminating learning materials with those requiring access to them.
We look forward to working even more closely with academic institutions, teachers and students to understand and address their needs, while also ensuring that all those who contribute to and improve India’s education system—including authors and publishers—continue to do so for the long term.”
OUP (Oxford University Press) also sent a letter informing about this decision to a group of Oxford University students, alumni and academics who had, earlier this year, urged OUP to refrain from filing an appeal to the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court Division Bench’s judgment dated December 9, 2016. The letter read as follows:
“Dear Ms Jannu,
I wanted to write to you about the Delhi University Photocopy case, since you and fellow academics, students, and alumni have shown great interest in it.
You may be aware that Oxford University Press, along with Cambridge University Press, Taylor & Francis and The Publishers Association (UK) has been pursuing a legal action against the copy shop of the University of Delhi for nearly five years now.
Through this case we attempted to prevent the widespread creation and distribution of illegal course packs by a copy shop operating from within the premises of the University. We took the action to seek enforcement of existing copyright laws so that intellectual property and creative work is recognized. Our goal has been to recognize the efforts of content creators, authors, illustrators, designers, publishers and everyone else involved in the creation and dissemination of original content, and to ensure that their rights are respected.
As you will appreciate, the decision to pursue legal action to achieve these aims was never an easy one for the Press, but one that we felt was important to protect the longer-term interests of the publishing and education fraternity.
We have now taken a considered decision with CUP and Taylor and Francis, the other named plaintiffs, to withdraw from this case altogether. This does not mean we are deviating from our principles, rather that we will direct our efforts outside of the courts. We look forward to working even more closely with academic institutions, teachers and students to understand and address their needs while also ensuring that all those who contribute to and improve India’s education system—including authors and publishers—continue to do so for the long term.
We have made a public statement available and you may become aware of media and social media interest over the coming days. Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or questions.
Group Communications Director
Oxford University Press”
On the occasion of Holi, a festival to forget and forgive, one hopes that the students/academics and publishers will rise above their past conflicts and work together towards fostering a more affordable and accessible education ecosystem in India.
Here’s wishing all our readers a very happy and colourful Holi!
Image from here