Legal solution to photocopy row

Manash Pratim Gohain, TNN Apr 1, 2013, 12.55AM IST

NEW DELHI: The copyright battle has reached the next stage, with Indian Reprographic Rights Organisation (IRRO) claiming that there is a legal way to photocopy course material which will protect students’ interest without violating Indian Copyright Act.

A DU student doing masters in sociology has to either shell out Rs 20,623 for the complete set of books for the methods of sociological research paper, or buy a photocopied course package of 150 pages for Rs 120 to Rs 130. The second option, three major publishers — Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor and Francis Group — claimed in August 2012, is copyright infringement. They filed a case against a DU-licensed photocopy shop and Delhi University, alleging that these course packs violate the copyright act.

Students say exorbitant prices put the course books beyond their reach and photocopying is the only solution for them. Now, IRRO says it can be done legally; Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) seconds it. In 2002, the human resource development ministry had certified IRRO as a copyright society and permitted it to carry out copyright business in reprographic rights in the field of printed works.

“Any institution/organization/individual and others who are photocopying can get an IRRO licence for a nominal amount. The photocopy shop in this case could have taken an annual licence for Rs 12,000. Students, too, would have got the material by paying 50 paise which will go to the publisher, the author and IRRO. Hence, a student can get a photocopy as cheap as Re 1 per page,” said the chief executive officer of IRRO, Anand Bhushan.

The publishers had alleged that Rameshwari Photocopy Services, located in Delhi School of Economics, had created “illegal, pirated” version of books. Subsequently, a group of students became party to the case and 309 eminent academicians wrote to the publishers to take a “lenient” view, keeping the students’ interest in mind.

IRRO claims that it has sent several letters along with licence application forms and tariff schemes to various institutions, including DU, but DU has neither taken any licence nor informed photocopy shops on its premises.

Sudhir Malhotra, president of FIP, said the publishers and authors were not against providing cheaper options to students but are opposed to copyright violation by a third party. “A student can photocopy for his/her academic need. What is alarming is that a photocopy shop is lifting content and creating a package and commercially exploiting it,” he said.

Written by