Section 52 of The Copyright Act by surbhi goyal at lexcliq

There has always been a thin line of difference between Infringement and Fair Dealing. Section 52 of the Copyright Act 1957 does not permit the reproduction of the whole work.  Such substantial copying and reproduction of the whole of the work would amount to infringement however; one of the major loopholes present in the Indian Copyright Act is that it does not define what substantial or insubstantial portion of the Copyright work is. As per the legal interpretation of the provision it is clear to one and all that only the insubstantial portion of the original copyright work comes within the ambit of fair dealing. The question of whether a work is fair dealing or not is a qualitative one that differs from case to case.


In the case of “The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford v Rameshwari Photocopy Services (CS (OS) 2439/2012, I.As. No. 14632/2012)” in this case it was held that “making course packs for suggested reading for students by photocopying portions of various prescribed reference books does not violate the copyright of the publishers.”The facts of the case state that the plaintiffs were Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and its Indian affiliate, Taylor & Francis and its Indian affiliate. They filed a suit for permanent injunction restraining Rameshwari Photocopy Services and via Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University from infringing copyright owned by them in various publications which have been photocopied and distributed to students in course packs. The course packs reproduced selected portions of copyright protected materials ranging between 5% to 33.25% of the original books. The Delhi School of Economics’ portion never required the entire packs to be reproduced; only selected portions were contained in the pack. The issues raised within the case were as follows:

Whether unauthorised distribution and reproduction were infringing acts?

Would the provision of course packs cause Delhi University to directly compete with the plaintiffs in the market for textbooks in the field of education?

Did the production and redistribution of such copyright content violate the licensing scheme administered by the Indian Reprographic Rights Organisation?

Was the interpretation of the Indian Copyright Act in accordance with the international copyright treaties and comparative legislations provided for in other countries?

However, the Judgement is silent on the question as to whether, in the Court’s opinion, is the reproduction of the whole book allowed or only reproduction of excerpts from several books would be allowed? The verbatim lifting of content from various books would amount to copyright infringement as per the provision of the Copyright Act, 1957 and therefore the Judge needs to thoroughly consider various aspects before giving its opinion  on whether a work constitutes fair dealing or not.

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