Students can make copies of published books for educational purposes: Delhi HC

In this digital age, schools are switching to educational videos, animations and other tools to explain the topics as clearly as possible to the students. Though this is a common practice in schools and colleges these days, there is a large portion of students who still rely solely on textbooks to study. There are cases wherein a student might have to refer 3-4 books to grasp a concept precisely. Though the books are available in libraries, the number of copies are limited. To make things easier, students usually take a photocopy of the published books. These books have an exorbitant price tag which makes it difficult for students to purchase all the required books.

What and How

Back in August 2012, international publishers Taylor & Francis Group, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Taylor & Francis Books India Pvt Ltd, and Cambridge University Press India Pvt Ltd had filed a case against Rameshwari Copier. The complaint was that the organization was selling ‘course packs’ which consisted photocopies of certain chapters of their books. They also alleged that this was at the behest of the Delhi University as the organization had permission from the university to operate in its premises and sell the ‘course packs’. According to the publishers, this act violated their international copyright laws and they were suffering a huge loss as students had stopped purchasing their books and preferred to buy the course packs instead.

In November 2012, the court ordered Rameshwari Copier to immediately pause the sale of the ‘course packs’. The Delhi University officials argued that the teachers and students used the material for academic purposes only and did not commercially exploit the same.

The Delhi high court ruled in favor of Rameshwari Copier and said that the students and teachers were exempted from the international copyright law. As per the ruling, students can now print as many chapters as the course requires and be protected under the Indian copyright law. The bench said that the inclusion of the copyrighted material in the course pack was justified because the main purpose of the course pack was for teachers to teach the students in the classroom. It also said that the main purpose of the books is to make the learner understand the concepts better. Therefore, it was justified to use the copies of the book for educational purposes.

Students’ opinion

Various student bodies and students have justified the reproduction of expensive published textbooks for educational purposes. The bench also said that a student cannot purchase thirty or forty reference books for a single subject. They would visit the library for referring it for short periods of time. In the long run, the material is helping to create more qualified citizens who have improved literacy rates and better-earning potentials. Hence, improved education will lead to an expansion in the market of published material.


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