The Delhi high court’s order to stop selling photocopies of books may have angered students, teachers and ‘copyleft’ activists and spawned campaigns to save photocopiers, but the authors and publishers’ body has welcomed the decision.
The Indian Reprographics Registration Organisation (IRRO), which represents authors and publishers of literary works, has provided a solution to photocopiers as well. The organisation has told them to get a licence.
The IRRO provides a licence to photocopiers to reproduce parts of the book for a fee. This fee is as low as Rs. 10 per student per year for government-run college libraries. But for professional courses, this fee is Rs. 20 per student per annum. For a government-run college’s photocopy machine, the annual fee is Rs. 12,000, whereas for private photocopy shops this fee is much higher. Blanket annual royalty for a private photocopier is Rs. 300,000 per annum.
The money collected through licence fee is distributed among the authors and publishers of books copied. “We are not against photocopying of texts but this has to be done in a systematic manner with checks and balances in place, otherwise it is copyright infringement,” said Shakti Malik, treasurer, IRRO.
Countering the argument of the campaigners that students will suffer because of this move, officials of IRRO said that wholesale photocopying discourages authors and publishers.
“The market for books has shrunk drastically over the years as the photocopiers’ market has boomed. If students get the books photocopied, nobody will buy our books. The demand has not gone down. Piracy is up. The author or the publishers are getting nothing in return and they have spent long years writing these books,” said Malik.
Meanwhile, DU officials have not decided upon a further course of action.