A report that is at odds with access to knowledge (The Hindu,GS-3)

A report that is at odds with access to knowledge (The Hindu,GS-3)

In light of two judgments by the Supreme Court of India in the Miss Mohini Jain case and another, the right to education found a secure constitutional home in the fundamental rights chapter of the Indian Constitution. There is a recent amendment in copyright act 1957, and this bill was sent to the committee for discussion. Committee gave the recommendation on a very wide note which seems contradictory in the recent wake of COVID-19.
What committee has looked into:-

  • The Committee, in its deliberations with legal associates and other relevant stakeholders, was informed that Section 52 (1) of the Copyright Act, 1957 which stipulates widely-scoped exceptions to infringement of literary works is posing a detrimental impact on the publishing industry and authors who are mainly dependent on royalties. Section 52(1) provides exceptions and limitations to copyright for the purposes of creating certified copies made or supplied in accordance with any law, for reading and recitation of any literary or dramatic work in the public domain, and for 65 publication of any non-copyright matter with a bona fide intention of its use in educational institutes, etc.
  • It was informed that the provisions of Section 52(1) were challenged vide the case The Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University of Oxford and Others vs. Rameshwari Photocopy Services and Others, popularly known as the DU Photocopy Case, by the academic publishers of Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis against Rameshwari Photocopy Services and the University of Delhi. The case considered the legality in the act of making numerous copies of course material drawn from different books of the publishers by a photocopying store that was authorized by Delhi University.

What is the committee recommendation:-

    • The provisions pertaining to the renewal of Copyright Societies every 5 years, as provided under Section 33(3A) imposes an administrative burden on them. The Committee recommends the Department increase the renewal time of Copyright Societies from 5 to 10 years. 
    • Section 31D of the Act deals with statutory licensing for radio and television broadcasting of literary and musical works as well as sound recordings wherein the copyright owner gets the royalties at a rate fixed by the Copyright Board for broadcasting any content. 
    • it was suggested that Section 31D should be amended which must include OTT platforms, music apps, and any other, etc. 
    • Research Institutes like IIT and other educational institutes undertake research in various scientific fields and inventions in collaboration with industries. The problem faced by academicians is that they require publications at every step to improve their profile and get acknowledgments in their institutes. This is their prized possession which they cannot compromise for their career and ambitions. Another problem is that the funding is stopped midway and academia’s interest is jeopardized as the project is not complete.
    • The industries, capital-driven, are more focused on return on their investments made in R&D given to the projects of institutes. The industries hold the copyright and publication rights on the research invention under the funding given to academia. However, to promote research and inventions, it is necessary to push forward the academia by funding and collaboration and giving their due share.
  • It is important that links are strengthened between academia and industry, to aid the exchange of knowledge and to enable researchers to work more easily at the interface between the two. 
  • The Committee recommends that the Department should assign a devoted agency for establishing linkages between industry and academia so that India can be positioned on top in the field of innovations and inventions of our research and educational institutes. 
  • The Committee, therefore, recommends that the catapult system of the UK may be emulated along with scaling up funding by Government Sector and industries along with defining modalities and sectors. The Committee also recommends that to encourage innovation, certain schemes may be introduced by applying a lower rate of corporate tax to any profits from patented inventions and tax incentives on R&D.

What is the issue with the recommendations:-

  • Committee recommendations are based on a misunderstanding of the raison d’etre for granting copyright in educational content. As per the judgment in the DU photocopy case, the purpose of copyright is to increase the: “harvest of knowledge, motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors in order to benefit the public”. But here committee gave preference to the economic rights of publishers.
  • The Committee flawed the idea in assuming that the rights of publishers were not duly accounted for in the DU photocopy judgments. 
  • Having quantitative restrictions on the extent of permissible copying would be inappropriate because any limit can be arbitrarily arrived at by the violators. 

Way forward:-

  • We must accept the Indian realities and its development needs of making access to education more equitable and fairer in a context of deepening socio­economic inequalities. 

Download Plutus IAS Daily Current Affairs of 18th August 2021

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