Subscribe to South Asia Citizens Wire | feeds from | @sacw
Home > General > India: Letter to Publishers Oxford University Press, Cambridge University (...)

India: Letter to Publishers Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor and Francis by 309 scholars and Press release by ASEAK students fora

13 March 2013

print version of this article print version

Dear OUP, CUP and Taylor & Francis,

We refer to a law-suit filed by you against Delhi University (DU) and its photocopier, Rameshwari Photocopying alleging copyright infringement in the creation and distribution of “course packs”.

We are forwarding to you a letter signed by 309 academics and authors from around the world, among whom are 33 authors specifically mentioned by you in the said law suit, as being authors of books over which you allegedly own copyright (hereafter referred to “suit” authors).

This letter asks you to withdraw the law suit filed in the Delhi High Court claiming copyright infringement by Rameshwari Photocopy Services and Delhi University and seeking damages and a restraining order

We are of the firm belief that these academic “course packs” which are the subject matter of your law suit fall within the ambit of statutory exceptions to copyright infringement and in particular are covered under Sec. 52 (1) (a) and 52 (1) (n) of the Copyright Act in India.

Since the law suit filed by you claims that you are acting on behalf of authors and representing the interest of authors, we hope you will take seriously this strong statement by authors and academics that you do not speak in their name.

The “suit” authors who have signed the letter include leading academics such as Professors Thomas Blom Hansen, Partha Chatterjee, Ayesha Jalal, Christophe Jaffrelot, Veena Das, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Marc Galanter.

Among the other eminent academics/authors who have signed this letter are Professors Richard Falk, Arjun Appadurai, Jonathan Parry, Ramachandra Guha, Farid Esack, TN Madan, Ian Copland, Tanika Sarkar and Uma Chakravarty. As you can see, the list of signatories include academics from all over India and from universities in Europe, the USA, UK, South Africa, Singapore, Australia, Argentina and Palestine.

Please find attached the following:
1. Letter to the three of you (OUP, CUP and Taylor & Francis) signed by 309 academics and authors from around the world, the first 33 of whom are “suit” authors.
2. Letter sent separately by Prof Amartya Sen in September to OUP expressing his distress at the law suit.
3. Email sent by Raju Ramachandran, a leading senior counsel and “suit author” who has opined that the creation and distribution of course packs for educational purposes is clearly covered by the copyright fair use and educational exception.
4. Email sent by Kaushik Sundar Rajan, a leading academic and author supporting the photocopying of his books to further the educational cause.
5. A comprehensive list of signatories to a protest petition on This consists of 1267 names, including academics, authors, students, and members of the general public who are worried about your law suit and its implications for the future of access to education in India. This list of names can also be found at:

Amita Baviskar, Institute of Economic Growth
Shamnad Basheer, National University of Juridical Sciences
Nivedita Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Nandini Sundar, Delhi University

Letter to publishers with 309 signatures
Letter from Amartya Sen
Email sent by Raju Ramachandran
Relevant section of Email sent by Kaushik Sundar Rajan on the issue

NSI Delhi Blog - 12 MArch 2013

ASEAK Press Release: Students Join Legal Battle against Publishers in the Delhi High Court

- Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK)

In an ongoing case in the Delhi High Court, where a consortium of publishers, namely Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis Group have filed a suit against Delhi University and M/S. Rameshwari Photocopier (the licensed photocopy shop at Delhi School of Economics) alleging copyright infringement, students from across India have come together to challenge these allegations in Court. On 1 March, 2013, the impleadment filed by the Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK) to be made a party to the ongoing lawsuit was accepted in Delhi High Court and the Association will represent the interest of students in the said case.

ASEAK has been formed out of the Campaign to Save the D. School Photocopy Shop, a Campaign that arose spontaneously following the suit when it was initiated in August last year. The publishers had claimed that photocopying of prescribed study material constituted an infringement of their copyright and claimed damages in excess of Rs. 60 lakhs. However, the Indian Copyright Act 1957 makes for exceptions to copyright infringement in Section 52, Article (h) of the Act, which states: “(h) the reproduction of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work- (i) by a teacher or a pupil in the course of instruction; or (ii) as part of the questions to be answered in an examination; or (iii) in answers to such questions” does not amount to an infringement of copyright.

ASEAK reaffirms the need for such exceptions in a developing country like India where photocopying ensures the access to otherwise prohibitively expensive books to the majority of students of higher education. It condemns the move of these publishers who claim to be fostering academic excellence, two of which are in fact University Presses (OUP & CUP), but are in fact working towards making higher education a preserve of the privileged few who can afford these books. It further condemns the crass attempt of the publishers to use the pretext of the interest of scholars in filing this suit, where this move has drawn severe and widespread condemnation from the academic community including scholars who have published with these publishers.

In October 2012 the Delhi High Court had passed an interim injunction staying further photocopying of ‘course packs’ which are essentially compilation of prescribed reading materials. To the objections raised by the publishers’ lawyer to the Association’s impleadment, the honourable High Court observed “that the presence of the applicant is necessary and proper for adjudication of the present suit”. ASEAK seeks a revocation of the interim order and will work to defend the educational exception in favour of the interests of the student community at large.

That photocopying of educational material takes place at such a large scale across the country and across disciplines is indicative of the gap within our education system that is filled by photocopying. Until alternative mechanisms of access to the same material is evolved, any curbing on photocopying will severely impact the student community, not only in Delhi School of Economics, or Delhi University, but in every educational institute across the country. We affirm and express solidarity with the students of Costa Rica who are fighting for their right to photocopy, directly linked with access to education, as it is in India. We express our solidarity with the open access movement and affirm the cause that Aaron Swartz fought for. We welcome the move in the USA that has led to the decision of free access to publicly funded research after one year of remaining within subscription journals, and will push for similar moves for opening access to publicly funded research within India, including academic works produced by teachers while being employed by State Universities.

Below is a reproduction of the Delhi High Court order