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Access to Knowledge vs Right to Copyright
In the much awaited judgment in Delhi University photocopying case, The Chancellor Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford v. Rameshwari Photocopy Services, the Delhi High Court has ruled against the copyright infringement petition filed by three publishers - Oxford, Cambridge and Taylor & Francis. The proceedings of this case were being closely followed by students, teachers and publishing industry alike. Petitions were also filed by student group - Association of Students for Equitable Access to knowledge and teachers and academics - Society for Promoting Educational Access and Knowledge. While publishers argued that photocopying academic material fall under infringement of the exclusive copyright of the authors and publishers, the defendants made an argument that reproduction of materials for educational purposes fall under exceptions to copyright under Section 52 (1)(i) of the Copyright Act. The judges have noted that copyright, especially in literary works, is thus not an inevitable, divine, or natural right that confers on authors the absolute ownership of their creations. It is designed rather to stimulate activity and progress in the arts for the intellectual enrichment of the public. It is intended to increase and not to impede the harvest of knowledge. It is intended to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors in order to benefit the public. This judgment will be consequential beyond India. It upholds the principles of equitable access to knowledge and should be emulated globally. In a time where the whole print media is under threat from other competing media forms, it should be remembered that education and easy access to it is what makes readers and not copyright.

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