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Procuring books in Indian libraries

by Prasad Krishna last modified Apr 01, 2011 04:27 PM
Campaign to legalise parallel imports gathers steam.

In a move to advocate the cause of libraries and book readers throughout India, campaigners are telling Kapil Sibal, the Minister of Human Resources Development (HRD), why it is important to legalise parallel imports in India. This move is supported by the International Federation of Library Associations in developing countries.

Among the proposed amendments to the Copyright Act is a proposal to legalise parallel importation of books into India. This provision is now under threat because a publishers’ association convinced the HRD Minister (who is in charge of copyright law) that no one is calling for parallel importation. If parallel importing is not legalised in developing countries, it becomes impossible for libraries in India to even procure books from Amazon (for instance), especially the ones which have not yet released in India.

Parallel importation allows books that are (legally) bought overseas to be imported into India without asking the copyright owners permission. Without parallel importation being allowed, purchases made by libraries from foreign sellers (for instance on the Internet) are rendered illegal. International organisations like the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL), and Consumers International all support parallel importation, especially in developing countries.

For more on the need for parallel importation, see this write up by Pranesh Prakash from the Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore.

For the campaign letter sent to Kapil Sibal by February 1st 2011, see below:

Minister for Human Resource Development
Room No 301
Shastri Bhawan
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road
New Delhi – 110 001

Date: Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dear Shri Sibal,

Subject: Parallel Importation of Books

We write to you as an organisation interested in the availability of books for libraries.  Recently, a publishers’ association has made public statements that there are no groups that are demanding parallel importation, and that they themselves will be harmed by allowing for parallel importation.

We wish to inform you that this is not true.  We believe that being able to legally purchase a book outside of India and import in into India is crucial for libraries.  Many books that we wish to provide for our users—faculties, students, and others—are not available in India and have to be imported from abroad.

Currently the exception contained in s.51(b) proviso is applicable only to individuals for “private and domestic use” and does not cover libraries.  Thus, if parallel importation is prohibited, then we will be unable to buy foreign books directly from foreign sellers.  We often have to make purchases on online bookstores such as Amazon and Alibris, and these will be construed to be illegal without parallel importation being legal.  We will be left at the mercy of what books are offered by sellers in India, instead of being able to buy what is required by our readers.

Parallel importation is allowed by the TRIPS agreement (Article 6, “Exhaustion”)  as well as by the WIPO Copyright treaty (Article 6, “Right of Distribution”).  We hope you will keep our concerns in mind.

Yours sincerely,
Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore

Read the original here

ASPI-CIS Partnership


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