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Politics & Current Affairs

Course Pack Ban Affecting Indian University Students

The ban is the result of a lawsuit filed by publishers who say textbook portions were illegally copied. Last week, a letter signed by over 300 academics asked them to drop the case.

What’s the Latest Development?

Last week, a letter signed by more than 300 academics from around the world was sent to three publishers asking them to drop their lawsuit against India’s Delhi University and a local copy center for photocopying textbook material for use in course packs. The lawsuit, which was filed last year, seeks approximately US$110,000 in damages and cites India’s 1957 Copyright Act as its basis. In response, the Delhi High Court has banned course pack production until the suit is settled, severely impacting students’ ability to study. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Because they’re more affordable than the textbooks their materials come from, course packs are widely used in India and other parts of the developing world. It’s unlikely that any decision will stop the photocopying, and opponents say that the lawsuit represents an attempt from publishers to increase revenue at a time when global publishing is in crisis overall. International property law professor Shamnad Basheer says there may be a silver lining to the case: “It is forcing many of us to think twice about publishing with big publishers, considering open access publishing and making it viable for academics to publish through a medium that doesn’t cater to private interests.”

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