India Wants Students And Researchers To Have The Right To Photocopy Books

from the medicines-for-the-mind dept

Techdirt has run several stories about the difficulties students in emerging economies have when it comes to buying expensive study materials. Back in 2012, Costa Rican students took to the streets to defend their right to photocopy otherwise unaffordable university textbooks. Earlier this year, Indian textbook authors asked for a lawsuit brought by Western publishers against Delhi University and a nearby photocopying shop over alleged infringements to be dropped. A common element to those two stories is that students often resort to making photocopies of books, since they can't afford the originals. According to this story from Calcutta's The Telegraph, it seems that the Indian government wants to turn the practice into a recognized right:

India will seek changes to international copyright regulations so that students and researchers can procure photocopies of expensive books without having to pay royalties, a senior government source said.

Come December, he said, the Union human resource development ministry will ask the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo) to relax its norms that protect authors' and publishers' commercial rights over their books.

The ministry will suggest at the next general assembly of Wipo, a UN body with 185 nations as members, that educational and research institutions be exempted from the copyright regime.
That's a pretty bold move, and it will be interesting to see the details. But it is certainly in keeping with India's successful attempts to make vital medicines available to its people at prices they can afford, despite what the patent-holders might want. In some ways, this new plan is an extension of that idea, since it recognizes that some things -- like medicine or knowledge -- are simply too important for developing countries to be kept locked up by Western monopolists.

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    out_of_the_blue, 23 Oct 2013 @ 11:11am

    You use a class warfare hook for Indians, but won't advocate against the US Rich?

    I'm ALL for taking monopolies away from The Rich and their corporations; they don't need the support of gov't as the poor do, and most of the stealing of creativity (which proper copyright protects against) is actually done by The Rich from the poor. But far as I can tell, your Populism only extends to this minor problem for people far away; rest of the time, you pretty much blame copyright as such, not the bad actors.

    As I've written, if you'd just argue against copyright in class war terms, you'd win far more support. You will not change copyright by whining "I want my pornz free". You won't lessen the power of the MPAA by continuing to consume their crap. Pirating their crap is just poisoning your mind, and that's exactly what The Rich want you to do. Meanwhile, they go on breaking all bounds, gaining ever more control of gov't. -- Which reminds me that CISPA is coming up yet again! Though declared dead by Mike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    TheLastCzarnian (profile), 23 Oct 2013 @ 11:31am

    Darn forners

    Making photocopies from books? It's unheard of! What do they think this is, a public library?

    Oh, uh, nevermind...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2013 @ 11:40am

    Re: You use a class warfare hook for Indians, but won't advocate against the US Rich?

    Fun new way to pass time: click "Report" on OOTB's comments without even reading them.

    Yea, I know, it's kind of lame, but at least this way you're not tempted to try to correct his idiocy (which is pointless -- he's incapable a being rational). Normally I would feel bad doing and/or advocating such a thing, but OOTB has more than earned the honor.

    If enough people would adopt the policy of just ignoring his comments and reporting each one of them instead of responding (I know, like I'm doing right now) he would stop getting the attention he so clearly craves and -- who knows? -- he might stop posting at all, thus sparing us from his drivel.

    Don't reply, just report. You know responding is a waste of time anyway

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2013 @ 12:10pm

    why not just go ahead and do it? the owners of the originals are going to withhold all the books are they? i very much doubt it!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2013 @ 12:22pm

    GJ India

    Just because someone is poor does not mean they should be excluded from trying to better themselves.

    Anyone blocking that is pathetic..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Alien Rebel (profile), 23 Oct 2013 @ 12:49pm

    Good News

    I'll have to pass this on to a few "friends" at the Graphic Artists Guild, which sucks off the teat of Reprographic Rights money coming in from abroad. Geez!!! If people are allowed to exercise Fair Use, then where the hell are they gonna get their money-fer-nuthin'?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2013 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Darn forners

    Blank media license on paper and a ten-fold increase in penalties if they get caught, incoming! What? You think they will accept Indias right to legislate? Blasphemer!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2013 @ 1:23pm

    Excellent cottage industry:
    Scan all university text books into PDF files. Distribute the files to students, FREE, or at low cost. Once in digital form, they'd be impossible to remove from circulation. This applies to any college study material.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2013 @ 1:35pm

    This whole school text book issue is a travesty! Schools are there to teach kids, not to make a huge, unjustifiable profit for themselves or the publishers. I haven't needed to use paper books or data sheets for over ten years. All of that material is available free from the manufacturers in digital form. The same should apply to all students. The idea of a publisher or school charging upwards of $200 for a text book is disgusting and unwarranted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Alien Rebel (profile), 23 Oct 2013 @ 1:55pm


    No worries; JSTOR will still be able to package it all up so that even the free stuff will cost students dough.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Gwiz (profile), 23 Oct 2013 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: You use a class warfare hook for Indians, but won't advocate against the US Rich?

    I always find it somewhat amusing when Blue rails against "The Rich". He makes sure to capitalize "The Rich" giving them a more formal presence, yet doesn't capitalize his own moniker. It's like deep down inside his subconscious he actually does know his station in life and where he fits into the social food chain.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    AC, 23 Oct 2013 @ 4:10pm

    Maybe . . .

    they could categorize filesharing as fair use - so only one person (a librarian, if you will) needs to scan/ocr each book once, rather that waste the resources having millions of people do the exact same thing, every single year, forever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2013 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Maybe . . .

    No, a librarian is a little too official, and would get in trouble for it. This should be an unofficial student project with someone supplying the proper equipment, etc. Do this instead of keggers. Better results, less hangovers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Oct 2013 @ 5:23pm

    Needs motivation

    Perhaps a 'Cans for Scans' deal offered by student presidents or similar groups, where the students are given X amount of drink and/or pizza vouchers in exchange for X amount of scanned pages.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), 24 Oct 2013 @ 2:53am


    The people are confused. Tech has advanced such that many people can now do things for themselves that previously they would have had to pay for.

    People use libraries when it is too time consuming or inefficient to copy a book. Now its easily done. Publishers may whine about the loss of profits, but that's a pricing issue for their business model. The majority of textbooks are just facts. No one wants to hear about copyrights on facts.

    What about all of the professional printers that lost business because people can print at home? What about the recording studios that are losing business because people can record at home? What about all the other businesses that have been impacted by home computing?

    You adapt your business model or become the next Kodak or buggy whip manufacturer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2013 @ 5:16am

    O, the poor Indians!! :'( (not!)

    I am very tired of hearing abt the plight of the poor people of developing nations, especially India! As Blue (liberal) as I am, I can't bring myself to support cheap unlicenced pharmaceutical generics and cheap unlicensed photocopies of college textbooks for them when many people HERE IN THE US have shitty quality of life or outright die because of a lack of money to pay for expensive licensed pharmaceuticals and can't get better jobs (to get more money) because they can't pay for college tuition and expensive licensed textbooks!

    I don't want them to suffer so much as I want us to be able to have/do the same. If we have to pay crazy extortionist prices, why shouldn't they? Fuck giving them the ability to graduate college and survive illness (just to get on an H1-B Visa list) at our collective expense, the expense that prevents PEOPLE HERE IN THE US from doing the same.

    The same goes for the cheap HIV drugs we ship to Africa when PEOPLE HERE IN THE US cannot pay for them, rent, and food.

    We have GOT to stop being forced to pay for the betterment of "developing nations" if we don't want to BE one. For most of my adult life, prices have increased on everything as wages have stagnated and real wages have fallen like a rock. Our corporations are predators the common man cannot fight, and our laws allow not only allow but actively support this.

    (Apologies for being a bit off-topic .... This concept inflames me.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Pragmatic, 24 Oct 2013 @ 6:25am

    Re: You use a class warfare hook for Indians, but won't advocate against the US Rich?

    A "class war" approach is the wrong approach because it's not a class thing. It's like running a kitty-cat against the greyhounds at a dog track because it is an animal, too.

    "The Rich," per se, are not responsible for this, just a small but vocal amalgamation of wealthy and influential special interest groups. They've been using their money to get govt. on board, making even more money to get the govt. on board.

    "Proper copyright" does not exist, and it protects nothing; it only gives you the right to enforce your claim if you can prove you created the work in question. That's it, that's all it does. It's not, and never was meant for the little guy or for creatives, but for publishers and distributors. A brief examination of copyright history from its beginnings would prove that. Creatives got in on the act after Victor Hugo and a few others complained that they weren't getting a big enough share of the profits made by the publishers.

    Hold that thought: in order to make money from COPYRIGHT, you need to be popular in the first place. Making money from your work is an orthogonal issue, and also demands popularity (people wanting to buy your stuff and actually buying your stuff). Many people (Amanda Palmer comes to mind) make money from their work without resorting to copyright rents. In fact, as TD has pointed out many times, over-protection of your copyright can cost you sales and therefore earnings.

    There is no class in the copyright debate; people of all income brackets, ages, and walks of life are willing to lay down their lives in defense of the lie of copyright as an income for creatives whether they have ever made money from it or not. I know, I've met and argued with them. They all have one thing in common: a misguided notion of ideas and creative output as property, forgetting that the minute they slap a sticker with "Property of John Doe (or whatever)" on a song they wrote, they condemn themselves as thieves because every word and every note builds on the work of those who went before them (this is why we have genres of music) AND none of those people are getting a share of the proceeds from Doe, the shameless pirate grifter!

    How communist of you to rail against class, comrade. The rest of us can see your loony BS for what it is. That's why none of the other trolls ever support you. Sock puppets don't count.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Pragmatic, 24 Oct 2013 @ 6:33am

    Re: O, the poor Indians!! :'( (not!)

    If the people of India get a better deal than you do, you shameless racist, you don't lose out. The main reason they're poor is because we've been fleecing them for generations, and we're still at it, this time with IPR over essentials, i.e. drugs.

    Not one penny comes from your tight-as-Chris Dodd-and-the White House pocket to pay for this; they merely nutted up and demanded a fair deal till they got one. They got one because they can fight back if attacked and there's a lot of American investment over there so bombing them is out of the question.

    What about you? Have you not got the stones to agitate till IPR is taken off of drugs and evergreening is outlawed?

    The overpriced drugs problem will end when we make it end, and we can make it end by getting involved with pressure groups like the Pirate Party, the Greens, and related groups who are willing to see this nonsense for what it is. Now GTFO and take your misplaced jealousy with you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    wfdudley (profile), 24 Oct 2013 @ 10:14am

    textbook prices have been silly for a long time.

    40 years ago I copied a statistics text book because it was cheaper to pay $0.10 a page then to buy the book outright. And this was the old, smelly, photographed, curled copies that were available in 1973.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    davnel, 25 Oct 2013 @ 6:27pm

    Re: textbook prices have been silly for a long time.

    Yup. And we need to keep in mind that the average printer, now days, is an "All In One" device that includes a very good scanner, capable of making PDF files out of the box. I'm afraid you're right. The publishing industry (at least the high-priced, limited market companies) is headed for a big fall, probably soon. It's likely that most, if not all, textbooks will end up online, within a month of publication, as PDFs in the near future.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2013 @ 7:33pm

    Re: Re: O, the poor Indians!! :'( (not!)

    Yes, Indians getting a better deal than we do DOES mean we lose out ... Who do you think is subsidizing their better deal, Chinese college students? "Shameless racist" insult completely uncalled for.

    We, the US, have not been fleecing the Indians for generations. You must be thinking of the UK. The injustice of IPR over essentials is what I'm actually talking about, but for Americans, not Indians.

    I'm a liberal, and a Democrat, and not interested in bombing anyone. Fine, India demanded a "fair deal" and got one. My point was that we should remember that every American college student is going to be subsidizing that "fair deal", so yes, more than one penny is going to come from me (40-ish part time college student here). I also detest Chris Dodd, just FYI.

    Have I got the stones to agitate regarding IPR until I get my way? The INDIAN FREAKING GOVERNMENT is taking this action, but you think it's my responsibility to agitate until The AMERICAN GOVERNMENT, beholden to IPR interests, decides to screw those same interests until Americans get a "fair deal"? Yeah, see, Indian politicians aren't beholden to American IPR interests. American politicians are. Not even close to the same situation. And if OWS agitation didn't result in changed laws, I'm not sure that any amount of agitation can (more on that in a bit).

    In case you've missed it, those groups you reference aren't making a dent in the overpriced drug problem, which is EVERY BIT as much an IPR issue a college textbooks. Everyone at all interested already knows we have an IPR over essentials problem and that we in the US are subsidizing the rest of the world's lower prices for anything IPR-related. The issue isn't lack of knowledge or lack of agitation, it's our laws. The ones written by IPR holders and the politicians beholden to them.

    My point has nothing to do with racism or misplaced jealousy of cheap college textbooks for Indians and everything to do with irritation at seeing applause for what will inevitably result: higher-priced college textbooks for Americans. I really don't think this is such a hateful or nonsensical point to mention.

    (Off-topic) Now, a response to your calling me a coward for no good reason:

    Guess what, Sparky, some of us have careers that don't pay a hell of a lot but a single arrest will kill our hire-ability. Some of us work in SERIOUSLY conservative/Republican industries in which it being known that we think the interests of human persons trump those of legal persons would kill our promotability. We have to be careful, so we speak out (anonymously) about what we see is wrong and explain why we think it's wrong.

    I'm sorry that my speaking out isn't enough agitation for you and led to your temper tantrum calling me a racist and a coward, but until and unless I marry and have another income in my home, I'm not cutting my own throat financially, making myself homeless, and throwing my future away for anything less immediately dangerous than civil war. Regardless of what names you call me.

    Seriously, Mr, Judgmental, how much agitation have YOU done, and in what form? I'd be interested to know, since you have some pretty strong IPR-related thoughts yourself, yet called me out (trying to invalidate mine) on the point of lack of agitation. Put up or STFU on this point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    bhuvi, 20 Jan 2014 @ 11:06pm


    Nice to see the information you had been shared here and keep on doing this pleasant work, I would like to follow your blog..!
    Animals for sales in Delhi

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Indian Student, 25 Feb 2014 @ 7:03am

    Re: Maybe . . .

    Guess what.... India has now classified as fair use a librarian scanning and uploading pages from a book's library collection.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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