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A blow for the right to knowledge:

THE LEAD : A blow for the right to knowledge:

Not a moral right : creation of course packs and the photocopying of academic material for the same amounted to an infringement of the exclusive copyright of the authors and publishers, the defendants argued that the reproduction of materials for educational purposes fell within the exceptions to copyright under Section 52(1)(i) of the Copyright Act. ?


  • copyright is a statutory right and not a natural right, and hence any right that is granted to owners is also limited by exceptions carved out by law.

  • The nature of Section 52 of the Copyright Act is such that any act falling within its scope will not constitute infringement.

  • Section 52(1)(i) allows for the reproduction of any 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.

  • “instruction” = not just spatially restricted to a classroom but includes the entire ambit of pedagogy from the creation of syllabus to teaching and provision of reading materials.

  • “when an action, if onerously done, is not an offence, it cannot become an offence when, owing to advancement in technology doing thereof has been simplified”

For progress: Copyright, specially 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. Copyright 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.

Global implications : principles of equitable access to knowledge.

  • globalisation of copyright norms through international law (Berne Convention, TRIPS Agreement)

  • fair use and exceptions and limitations, countries have found themselves constrained by judicial precedents from the U.S. and elsewhere that have defined quantitative restrictions on photocopying.

  • it is not the place of courts to impose artificial restrictions by way of quantitative limits.

How will publishers respond? Teacher, readers, students and photocopiers are not the enemies of publishers; they are their greatest allies.


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