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Govt for Legalising Parallel Import of Copyright Works; Publishers Oppose

Posted by Shamnad Basheer at Aug 30, 2011 04:55 AM |
Section 2(m) legalises the parallel imports of books and other copyrighted material into India and was part of the initial Copyright Amendment Bill introduced in the Parliament of India in 2010.

Section 2(m) reads as below:

"[P]rovided that a copy of a work published in any country outside India with the permission of the author of the work and imported from that country into India shall not be deemed to be an infringing copy."

Unfortunately, the government did a sudden volte face owing to pressure from publisher lobbies and deleted it from the latest version of the Bill. The provision would have helped students gain access to the latest affordable versions of text books from around the world.

When the Bill was referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee for review, the said Committee strongly supported the introduction of section 2(m) and stated as below:

"that availability of low priced books under the present regime is invariably confined to old editions. Nobody can deny the fact that the interests of students will be best protected if they have access to latest editions of the books."

"Nobody can deny the fact that the interests of students will be best protected if they have access to latest editions of the books. Thus, apprehensions about the flooding of the primary market with low priced editions, may be mis-founded as such a situation would be tackled by that country's law. The Committee would, however, like to put a note of caution to the government to ensure that the purpose for which the amendment is proposed i.e., to protect the interest of the students is not lost sight of."

Despite the Standing Committees support, it is curious as to why the government dropped this provision, particularly when it would have tremendously helped a number of students gain access to latest low priced editions of text books from around the world. It ought not to have succumbed to the pressures of the publishing lobby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empirical studies done on this count clearly demonstrate that publishers only introduce old versions of books in India. The latest versions have to be imported, and they are very expensive, often times costing more than what they cost in the US and EU. See the Economic Times article documenting this empirical study here.

Further, an easy right of import enables any third party to import books which could also then be made available in accessible formats to the visually impaired. 

Download the Economic Times article by Shamnad Basheer here. [PDF, 470 Kb]

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