Monday, October 31, 2016

Copyright is Not Inevitable, Divine, or Natural Right

Copyright is Not Inevitable, Divine, or Natural Right. Kenneth Sawdon. ALA Intellectual Freedom Blog. October 19, 2016.
     A copyright lawsuit was decided in India that allows academia to create unlicensed coursepacks and allow students to photocopy portions of textbooks used in their classes. The Court dismissed the case brought by publishers and "held that coursepacks and photocopies of chapters from textbooks are not infringing copyright, whether created by the university or a third-party contractor, and do not require a license or permission". Unlicensed custom coursepacks are not covered under fair use in the U.S. but they are in India.

The ruling included this quote about what copyright is:
"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."
This ruling doesn’t suggest that everything is fair game, but only that the use of textbook excerpts in India is fair use. "Stopping a university or third-party from providing coursepacks or textbook excerpts merely prevents the students from getting the most convenient source for information that they are free to use."  The Court held that when texts are used for imparting education and not commercial sale, it can’t infringe on copyright of the publishers. In the United States the defense for fair use involving coursepacks failed a legal challenge.

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