The approach of Indian judiciary towards the reproduction of the copyrighted material without authorisation in the name of access to knowledge will be a huge blow for the Big Publishing Houses as their substantial market in India is now allowed to reproduce their protected material without any limitation for research and educational purposes by the courtesy of Delhi High Court. The radical judgement of Delhi High Court which interpreted the legislative intent of the Indian law makers in favour of the reproduction of copyrighted work by photocopying it by the students, teachers, universities etc. without unreasonably hampering the legitimate interest of the author and concluded by making it clear that in country like India were the educational institutions have to look after the needs of thousands of students, it would be unreasonable to expect every student to buy the copies of every book.
Now the decisive question would be how publishers will respond? How would they survive in such a business environment? Will this legal tussle going to stretch longer or will the publishers look for some alternative business strategies? Though in the entire arguments of the publishers, they have alienated the rights of academicians, students, educational institutions but they should not forget that these people are their greatest allies and also constitute substantial sector of their market, messing up with their rights won’t let them have productive results in future. It is the time for the publishers to resort to such a solution which can promote the access to education by also adding up to their commercial strength by creating new dimensions. The tentative solution for reaching such a position is by using the flexible and innovative licensing techniques instead of conventional licensing models by the publishing houses for their copyrighted materials which will not only server social need of access to knowledge but also the economic need of the publishing companies.
By the flexible and innovative licensing techniques, I mean the techniques which allow all the stake holders to come at consensus and create a mutual benefiting environment. These licenses can be based on the voluntary licensing models such as open licensing, micro-licensing or sub licensing or combination of any such licensing techniques etc. Such licenses will provide new dimensions for revenue generation to the publishing industry and will also going to result in the research and development by easy excess and reproduction of the protected material and also developing higher quality copyrighted works without any legal implications. These licensing techniques will help in achieving appropriate balance between the right to access knowledge of the public and economic rights over protected work of the publishing houses.
However there is a substantial difference between the software and books but both being literary work under Copyright Act, made me relate the present situation with the free software moment, started by Richard Stallman. The moment which started as a charity for commonweal but later became popular among software developers because of its innovative licensing models which permits the software developers to economically exploit their work as well as providing it for free at the same time. Many software companies took it as an opportunity to generate revenue, strengthening their business, spreading their brand and from then the open source licensing techniques became a cheap marketing technique for profit earning. Similar kind of voluntary and innovative licensing techniques are presently the need of the publishing industry. The similar issue was also discussed in the Twenty Seventh Session of Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights held in Geneva from 28th of April, 2014 to 2nd of May, 2014. It was submitted by the United States of America that use of such innovative licensing model will result in the vibrant commercial market and also promote easy excess to the educational and research materials.
The combination of flexible licenses and diverse commercial market like India will likely to satisfy the urge of the publishing houses and as well as the public at large. It is advisable for the big publishing companies that they should start investing in development of a business model which is based on flexible licenses which allow easy reproduction of their copyrighted work by others without any legal implications especially for the educational and research purposes on mutual benefiting terms. This step will protect the private Intellectual Property Rights while securing the interest of public at large.