A Gross Copyright Violation by Photocopying Of Entire Books : A Socio-legal Study

educationBy Sk Jahangir Ali


The photographic copying of books and other materials is a modern technique that started at the beginning of the 20th Century by the advancement of science and technology. Since then, photocopying has become the most popular mechanism of physical reproduction of documents, materials etc. Direct reproduction of the entire work of the author such as entire book is against the provision of the copy right law . Most of the student tends to do so without abiding by the “fair use doctrine” of the copy right law. The common picture in Bengal is that students borrow books from libraries and then get these photocopied from the photocopier and kept the books at the institution from where they borrowed it.

Objective of the study

The objective of the study is to investigate the reasons behind the photocopying of the entire books by the students in Bengal at the age group of 18-25.

Statement of the problem

Majority of the students at the age group of 18-25 in Bengal tend to photocopying of entire books randomly. It suffers a lot of economic loss to the publishers and original authors of the books.

Research Methodology

The research is carried on by both doctrinal and non doctrinal methods. By doctrinal method the researcher tried to analyze legal proposition, legal framework and case law in a logical and systematic manner .Under the non doctrinal method the researcher adopted the qualitative method and data is collected by open ended questions in semi-structure interviewing to 200 respondents who are students under the age group of 18 years to 25 years in Bengal to investigate the reason of photocopying of the entire book selected on the basis of ‘purposive’ sampling. The questions asked to the respondents are listed here

Research question

1. Why do you make a photocopy of the entire book?

2. What book do you like to photocopy entirely?

Meaning and definition of photocopy

The Encyclopedia of Librarianship defines, “Reprography” as the “art of producing single or multiple copies of documents whether by photographic or other means.”

The Focal Encyclopedia of photography defines, “Reprography” as “a general term applied to photographic techniques of reproducing flat originals such as documents, drawings, photograph and printed matter. Its scope includes silver halide and non silver coping processes such as microfilming and Xerographic office copies and photomechanical reproduction.”

Section 2(x) of the Copy Right Act,1957 says that “Reprography” means ‘the making of copies

Of a work, by photocopying or similar means’.

The new Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language International defines “a photographic reproduction of a document, illustration and so on.”

The Little Oxford English Dictionary defines “photocopy” as “a photographic copy of something produced by a process involving the action of light on a specially prepared surface.”

Legal Provision

Copyright law is, in the essence, concerned with the negative right of preventing copying of physical material existing in the field of literature and the arts. Section 14 of the Copyright Act 1957 says that the exclusive right of the author is to reproduce the work in any material form, to perform the work in public and to communicate the work to the public.

If any other person does any of these acts without proper authority he could be guilty of infringement of the copyright of the work.[Section 51(a)(1)]. In the case of Fateh Sing v. O.P Singhal [AIR 1990 Raj 8] the Court held that where a person has copyright in literary work ,and any other person produces or reproduces the work or any substantial part thereof in any material form , he is committing an infringement of copyright.

According to section 22 of the Copyright Act,1957 copyright subsists in any literary work within the lifetime of the author and sixty years of his death. So the term of copyright is life plus sixty years and after that there is no copyright on it.

While section 52 of The Copyright Act 1956 permits photocopying of literary works for limited private uses such as research, review or criticism. What happens, many a time is that the entire book is photocopied including the cover pages which is a gross violation of Section 14 of the Copyright Act 1956. Section 63 of the Act says that any person who knowingly infringes or abets the infringes of a copy right in a work shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to three years and with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to two lakh rupees and provided that where the infringement has not been made for gain in the course of trade or business, the court may impose a sentence of infringement for a term less than six month or a fine less than fifty thousand rupees. By the virtue of section 64 of this Act any police officer, not below the rank of sub-inspector, may if he satisfied that an offence under section 63 in respect of infringement of copy right in any work has been ,is being ,or is likely to be committed, seize without warrant, all copies of work ,and all plates used for the purpose of making infringing copies of the work, where found ,and all copies and plate so seized shall ,as soon as practicable, be produced before the magistrate.

Findings of the Study

From the interview the researcher came to know from the respondents the following reason of photocopying the entire books:


2.Less enforcement of law

3.To avoid the hardship to purchase book and tend to easy process of photocopying

4. Allowing photocopying to the Xerox operator nearby campus even some time inside the college campus by the college authority

From the interview the interesting point came out that the students like to photocopy entirely the following books:

1.Popular book

2.Reference book

Conclusion and recommendation

Photocopying is random here because of less enforcement of the law and there is no watch dog to check the random photocopying of books. Proper enforcement of law is highly needed to protect the copy right violation and economic loss of the publisher and the original author.



One Comment “A Gross Copyright Violation by Photocopying Of Entire Books : A Socio-legal Study”

  • one primary reason for photocopying is also the non availability of the book in india or its very high cost. sometimes these are not primary books for he course but only reference materials, which means only a limited use for the copies materials.

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