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.
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.
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.