Case Law Details

Case Name : The Chancellor, Masters & Scholars of The University Of Oxford & Ors. Vs. Rameshwari Photocopy Services & Anr. (Delhi High Court)
Appeal Number : CS(OS) 2439/2012, I.As. No. 14632/2012 (of the plaintiffs u/O 39 R-1&2 CPC), 430/2013 (of D-2 u/O 39 R-4 CPC) & 3455/2013 (of D-3 u/O 39 R-4 CPC)
Date of Judgement/Order : 16.09.2016
Related Assessment Year :
Courts : All High Courts (4420) Delhi High Court (1319)
CA Saurabh Chokhra

Brief of the case:

The Hon’ble Delhi HC in the above cited case held that the making of photocopies by the defendant No.2 University will constitute infringement of copyright within the meaning of Section 51 and the photocopies so made constitute infringing copy within the meaning of Section 2(m). However , the photocopying the selected or even substantial parts of purchased books by the University to be used by the students and teachers in educational activity shall not be infringement of copyright as per Sec 52(1)(i).

Facts of the case:

The five plaintiffs, namely i) Oxford University Press, ii) Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom (UK), iii) Cambridge University Press India Pvt. Ltd., iv) Taylor & Francis Group, U.K. and, v) Taylor & Francis Books India Pvt. Ltd., being the publishers, including of textbooks, instituted this suit for the relief of permanent injunction restraining the two defendants namely Rameshwari Photocopy Service (carrying on business from Delhi School of Economic (DSE), University of Delhi) and the University of Delhi from infringing the copyright of the plaintiffs in their publications by photocopying, reproduction and distribution of copies of plaintiffs‘ publications on a large scale and circulating the same and by sale of unauthorized compilations of substantial extracts from the plaintiffs‘ publications by compiling them into course packs / anthologies for sale.

 Held by Hon’ble High Court:

  • Sec 16 of the Copyright Act states that no person shall be entitled to copyright or any similar right in any work otherwise than under and in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Act. It thereby convert copyright from a natural or common law right to a statutory right. Section 51 prescribes that copyright is infringed inter alia when any person does anything exclusive right to do which has been conferred by the Act on the owner of copyright.
  • It is not in dispute that the works in question fall in the category of original literary work. Section 14(a)(i) and (ii), in respect of such works, vests the exclusive right ―to reproduce the work in any material form including the storing of it in any medium by electronic means‖ and the right ―to issue copies of the work to the public not being copies already in circulation‖ in the owner of the copyright.
  • Now question is whether ―to reproduce the work‖ would include making photocopies thereof as the defendant No.2 University is doing. Section 2(x) defines ―reprography‖ as making copies of a work by photo-copying or similar means. As such it can be concluded that the words in Section 14(a)(i) ―to reproduce the work‖ would include making photocopy of the work. Long back, in British Oxygen Company Ltd. Vs. Liquid Air Ltd. 1925 Ch. 383 also it was held that making photographic copy of literary work is reproduction thereof.
  • Therefore, the right to make photocopies is the exclusive right of the author or composer of the literary work and a copyright within the meaning of Section 14. It thus, follows that the making of photocopies by the defendant No.2 University will constitute infringement of copyright within the meaning of Section 51 and the photocopies so made constitute infringing copy within the meaning of Section 2(m) unless such act is listed under Section 52 as an act not constituting infringement.
  • Section 52 lists acts, which even if infringement per Section 51 read with Section 14, have been statutorily declared to be not constituting infringement of copyright. The facts of the present case is squarely covered by Sec 52(1)(i) which constitutes the reproduction of any work i) by a teacher or a pupil in the course of instruction and such other matters….
  • University which is reproducing the work by making photocopies thereof would fall within the meaning of the word ―teacher‖ in Section 52(1)(i). There is no reason to interpret Section 52(1)(i) as providing for an individual teacher and an individual pupil and which, neither at the time of inclusion thereof in the statute nor now exists in the society. Supreme Court, in S.P. Gupta Vs. President of India 1981 Supp (1) SCC 87 held that interpretation of every statutory provision must keep pace with the changing concepts and it must, to the extent to which its language permits, or rather does not prohibit, suffer adjustments so as to accord with the requirements of fast growing society.
  • Thus, merely because imparting of education by teachers today is as part of an institution as the defendant no.2 University and it is the defendant no.2 University which on behalf of its teachers is reproducing any copyrighted work by making photocopies thereof, would be covered by Sec52(1)(i).
  • Therefore, photocopying the selected or even substantial parts of purchased books by the University to be used by the students and teachers in educational activity shall not be infringement of copyright as per Sec 52(1)(i).
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