Copyright © 2021 - Ex Gratia Law Journal

A Study on Copyright Infringement


A Human mind is filled up with emotions, thinking, imaginations, consciousness, intelligence and a lot more. We cannot judge or measure the capacity of one’s intellect through any means, it is an impossible task. It is a human intellect which directs them to make comparison, differentiate or conclude anything which comes into his mind. There is no restriction over thinking and converting it into an unique idea or invention.

Intellectual property is also an outcome of Human intellect under which one’s unique idea, creativity or inventions is being covered. Intellectual property is a creative effort of human mind, labour, skill and intelligence. The unique idea or creation in any field in any form comes under the ambit of intellectual property. It is an intangible property, which has no physical appearance but provides an ownership to rightful owner of that specific creation. Intellectual property rights cannot be kept in locker, it is easily available to general public. 


Copyright is a kind of intellectual property that protects the original and creative work of an artist. Whenever artists produce a new creation, it is very much necessary for them to get it registered as soon as possible for the protection of their original creation. Copyright provides an exclusive right to the owner to make copies, distribute, reproduce or sell the innovation. The original creator of copyright has full fledged right over it and a person to whom he has given authority to use that particular work also has right over it. No other person can use that copyright violation of which would amount to an infringement over their rights. Copyright pertains to creative work and does not matter what age you are. If any person wants to use material from original work of creator, he has to seek permission from creator to avoid breach of copyright law. 

The Berne convention is the oldest international treaty in the field of copyright. The convention was first accepted at Switzerland in 1886. The main aim of the convention is the protection of literary and artistic works of the creators. 

To overcome the effect of violation of the rights of original copyright holder, a stringent enactment is necessary. Indian parliament brought an enactment in the form Indian copyright act, 1914 which was primarily based on copyright act of United Kingdom, 1911. Later on, this act did not prove fit to the constitutional provisions and it was amended with Indian copyright act of 1957. Copyright laws protects the original material of creators from unauthorized use. For this protection, the work must be in tangible form, which means before disclosing it to public, a creator should convert his work into physical form. If anybody violates the copyright and make unauthorized use of that, he/she shall be subject to provisions of law. 


Copyright consists in the following classes of works:

  • Literary works which includes computer programmes , Fictions, poetry, textbooks 
  • Dramatic  works includes choreography, entertainment shows 
  • Musical works subsist of sound recording, musical compositions 
  • Artistic works, paintings, a sculptures, drawings which includes maps, diagrams, architectural work ,an engravings


The Chancellor, masters and scholars of the University of Oxford &ors. Versus Rameshwari photocopy services &ors. , (DU photocopy case)

In this landmark case of copyright infringement , division bench of Delhi high court declared that compilation of photocopy of the relevant materials from various books which has been prescribed in the syllabus and distribution of that relevant material to students by the educational institution does not amount to violation of copyright act of 1957. The court interpreted the question related to section 52(1) (i) of the Indian copyright act, 1957, which was put up by the plaintiff in the complaint. 


A complaint has been filed by the five prominent publishers namely Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press UK, Cambridge University Press India, Taylor and Francis group UK and Taylor are Francis books India against Rameshwari photocopy services (Defendant 1) and Delhi University (Defendant 2) at Delhi high court on August, 2012 seeking a permanent injunction over them by accusing them of infringing their copyrights.

  • Plaintiff raised four contention in their suit while seeking a relief in the form of permanent injunction against the defendant.  
  1. Defendant 1 prepared a course packs from of syllabus which was issued by the defendant 2. 
  2. Faculty of defendant 2 recommended and encouraged the students to buy course packs in place of original published books. 
  3. Defendant 2 provided their published books to defendant 1 from the library.
  4. There is profit motive behind the compilation of resource from the published books. 
  • They made an allegation against defendant that they have compiled the data from their published books and distributed the same to a large number of students with the assistance of University staff.
  • Plaintiff also made University as party to the suit by making allegation that the photocopy work is done by the assistance of library staff who  issued the books to Rameshwari photocopy services for the preparation of course material. 
  • The plaintiff claimed that the main reason behind compilation of resource from the published books and providing the material to a large number of students is to earn profit as it was evident that they charge 40/50 paise per page while other shop owners charge 20/25 paise per page. 
  • They contended that all the course packs are prepared from their published books and no additional reference is being used for course pack, and that work would make an irreparable loss to the academic publishers. 

On the other hand, defendants claimed in their written statement that they have not violated any right of publishers. 

  • They contended in their defense that plaintiff have no evidence to prove that we have prepared course packs from their published books only and not from any additional reference. Secondly, defendant 1 is licensed under the authority of defendant 2. Third, the syllabus prescribed by defendant 2 is very wide and it covers different books from various authors. Fourth, the Indian copyright act, 1957 exempts the act of photocopy. Fifth, these books are expensive and mostly students are unable to buy that’s why we kept them into the library for the reference purpose. Sixth, these course packs are prepared for the educational purposes only, not to earn profit. 


     On December 9, 2016 Division Bench, Pradeep Nandrajog J. and Yogesh Khanna J. decided the suit. It was clearly stated that there has been no infringement of copyright. Court interpreted several provisions in relation to copyright act. 

  • Court rejected plaintiff’s contention over unauthorized making and distribution of course packs and held it could not make any adverse impact over their published books. 
  • Meaning of ‘in the course of instructions” has also been interpreted by the court which means entire process or programme of education in semester. 
  • While interpretation of section 52(1) (i) of copyrights act, justice clearly mentioned that there must be fairness in every action, and to check the adequacy of use of copyright work which is permitted under section 52(1) (i), it must be made clear whether it achieves the purpose of education or not. 
  • Court also found absence of an element “profit” in the course packs which was claimed by the plaintiff. It is recognized Principle that education is for public good and it must be made available to all on equal terms. Education must be promoted and opposed to the narrow interest of authors and publishers. 
  • The word ‘reproduction’ means making more than one copy of original or photocopies. Further it was held that making of multiple copies of work by teacher and student is contemplated under the provision to include the entire educational institution.


Copyright to an exclusive right on creator for their original artistic or literary work. It grants a legal right to use, distribute, reproduce, public performance and to sell them. Copyright law evolved and expanded over the centuries which includes new method of storage and transmission. The main purpose of the copyright is to promote creativity and fair trade which would contribute in economic and social development of the country. Protection of the interest of creators not only satisfies them but also encourage them to come up with new creative ideas. One can use the work of creator after accessing the permission of creator. If someone violates the copyright work of creator, then he shall be liable for civil and criminal liabilities. 

Cite this article (The Bluebook 20th ed.)-

Yogesh Sharma, A Study on Copyright Infringement, Ex Gratia Law Journal, (February 1, 2021),

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Yogesh Sharma
Student - Chandigah University