Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Course Packs

I know there are many honest people in the country of my birth - India.  However, there are some people (i.e. politicians, bureaucrats, auto rickshaw drivers in Chennai, or a porter at a railway station) who want to cheat you and get your money.  They only want money and they’ll do whatever it takes to get your hard earned cash.
 
I recently read an interesting article about a small shop at the Delhi University campus that is photocopying text books from the Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press.  After photocopying the entire book, they are selling it to students for a huge profit.  These academic presses have found about this and have filed a lawsuit in an Indian court stating there are serious copyright violations at work here.
 
Photocopying from text books is called “Course Pack”.  This is usually allowed for students who can’t afford to buy the book.  This practice is followed in many countries.
 
Many famous Indian academic scholars (including Amartya Sen) have lined up against these presses expressing outrage at their lawsuit.  One professor even said these publishers are bullying the universities and the students.
 
On the other side, it is stated that “Course Pack” is allowed for individual students and professors to copy a small number of pages for academic use.  However, it is clearly not intended for being photocopied in its entirety and then sold to students to make a nice profit.
 
According to the President of Indian Publishers, he states that “this is not fair use; this is commercial exploitation of private property".
 
Ok now - here is my view on this topic. You can probably guess that I’m against “Course Pack” en masse for a huge profit.  If the university itself is photocopying these textbooks and then distributing them to the students for free, then I fully support that.  However, a shop in Delhi with a few photocopying machines making huge profits?  I think that is a BIG FAT NO NO.
 
I’m not a lawyer.  Don’t know the law.  Don’t want to know the law.  Don’t watch Law & Order on TV.  However, there are a few lawyers who read my posts and they can express their legal views on this.  I’m just saying that I’m siding with the publishers on this topic.
 
As for Amartya Sen, I wonder if he would feel the same way if the University of California at Berkeley were to “Course Pack” and sell his book Resources, Values and Development (1984) for a huge profit to all freshman students (first year students at UCB - more than 14,000).

36 comments:

  1. Oh I did not know the term Course Pack. So SG, you helped me increase my gyaan yet again today. I wonder if the copiers are aware that they are not supposed to copy... I am a copywriter by profession but one thing I am strictly against is COPYing and WRITING. LOL

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  2. I love photocopies of books. It is not really whole books, only a few required chapters.

    At Punjab University, Chandigarh, I had at least 50% of my course taken from what DU people call 'course pack'. I think it is like the thing we call 'Generic Drugs', with almost no differences.

    There are two kinds of mean people here: one are those who don't need to do anything bad. Others are those who need to do it to survive. Politicians and businessmen do not need to go for corrupt practices, but a coolie or a rickshaw-walla does (backbreaking inflation, no guarantee of work tomorrow etc).

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  3. A photocopy machine is one of the biggest boons for students. Inmost cases, only a few chapters are required that can be conveniently photocopied. It really helps students in two ways- firstly, only relevant portions have to be carried and secondly, for those on tight budgets find it much easier to save on overpriced academic books.

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  4. During my engg days; books cost 500-2000 Rs. I well couldnt afford it. I did my engineering by photocopying chapters.

    But I know of photocopying shops set up near colleges who do this and sell for huge profit. Thats a no-no. And colleges or professors or shops doing it; its unfair

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  5. Agree with you on the politicians, bureaucrats and rickshaw drivers who try to make quick money wherever possible.
    I too feel photocopying is an illegal thing, but as you said the law makers know better.

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  6. Thanks for your comments Anu. Copywriter against COPYing and WRITING. That's a good one.

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  7. Thanks for your comments Karunesh. I am all for distributing these for free to students. I am against some photocopy machine owners making a huge profit by doing this.

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  8. Thanks for your comments Ankita. The universities should provide copied pages to students for free.

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  9. Thanks for your comments Insignia. As you said, making huge profit illegally is unfair.

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  10. Thanks for your comments Haddock. The universities should give these course packs to students for free. They should not let some photocopy machine owners to make huge profit illegally.

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  11. I remember reading that it is illegal to reproduce the book in its entirety for commercial purposes. As a student one cannot afford certain books that are prescribed by syllabus and in such cases I feel it is fine to photocopy portions of the book, we used to borrow books from library to get it partially photocopied. So I have used course pack without knowing it had a name.

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  12. Thanks for your comments Reshma. You are correct. Reproducing the entire book for commercial purpose is illegal.

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  13. Why don't the students themselves photocopy those sections of the book they want? Why would they buy photocopied material for a high cost?

    This is piracy and in India, it is uncontrollable. It's like corruption - everywhere. Law and enforcement can only curb these practices to an extent. But people ought to understand what they are losing by pirating things. Whatever the media.

    Destination Infinity

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  14. I didn't know the term Course pack either. I agree with you, giving it for free is okay since there may be some poor students who cannot afford to buy the original foreign print etc. But making money out of it doesn't seem right to me.

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  15. Let the Delhi shop do whatever it wants.
    Copyright infringement laws are stupid!

    Regards,
    John Fanning, Shawn Fanning, and Sean Parker

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  16. Thanks for your comments Ash. I fully agree with you. These should be given for free to poor students.

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  17. Thanks for your comments Rajesh. Piracy is a big problem in India.

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  18. Thanks for your comments John, Shawn, and Sean. That Delhi photocopy shop owner is nothing compared to you 3. You 3 founded NAPSTER. It is the king of violating copyright infringement laws.

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  19. course pack - another new word i learnt from your blog:)

    I am also against photocopying the whole book as business. Though i am okay with students photocopying the book since most university books are expensive.

    I once went to the famous second hand book market at Koti in hyderabad and there i found the storekeeper of a famous management institute had sold the stocks of that years course materials which were under his custody) for a lower cost to the second hand book seller and they in turn were selling to the students at quarter the rates which was still a huge profit for the sellers. The loss was ofcourse the institutes while the store keeper was making good money.

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  20. 'Course pack' is a new word to me too!

    As you said, distributing for free or taking a nominal amount for the paper/copying cost is OK. But selling it for a huge profit is sickening.

    Like D.I. says, students can get the needed chapters copied instead of paying huge amounts to buy pirated copies of books.

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  21. Course Pack... was not aware of this term. We didnt had easy access to photocopiers during college days. So, we used to write notes in our notebooks from various books taken from library.
    Photocopying the entire book for profits is certainly not right.

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  22. Course-pack if done as philanthropist plus a small profit for their livelihood is well and good.I too don't know about its legality. Got a new word.Some unique topics you blog on.Nice.

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  23. Thanks for your comments Asha. Crooks are everywhere.

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  24. Thanks for your comments Sandhya. I am all for distributing course packs to students for free.

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  25. Thanks for your comments Shilpa. You are correct. Photocopying the entire book for commercial purpose is illegal.

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  26. Thanks for your comments Sarala. These should be given to the students for free.

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  27. Its very common in India as India is poor country
    I agree with you if they want to give free give it free to poor students

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  28. Thanks for your comments sm. I am all for giving to students for free. I am against some photocopy shop guys making illegal profit.

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  29. SG,
    In normal course,I would not support photo copying process of the books.But,look at it differently.When a student,a photo copying shop see a scam a day, open loot of resources ,bribes etc...why wouldn't this unscrupulous man carry on with copying.
    And,you show me a face,I will show you a law

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  30. Most of the study material I used in the college was of 'Course Pack' (New term, thanks to you.. :)). But we never had any seller do this. We just lend the books from library and mention the pages we want to the photocopier. He use to copy it and bind it and we pay him based on the number of pages.

    Buying such a large and expensive text books are practically impossible for most of the students. So I don't think it is a big crime as long as they don't make a complete replica of the book and sell it in the place of the original.

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  31. Thanks for your comments Mr. Chowla. My point is it should be given to students for free.

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  32. Thanks for your comments Hal. I am with you. There should be nominal charges for photocopying and binding. But this guy is charging huge amounts from students. That is why the publishers have filed a suit in India.

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  33. Course Pack? That's something I learnt today.

    But we all take photocopies of important chapters from foreign publications, not the entire book of course and it all used to be for academic purposes alone.

    But yes, if people are doing it for profits it is not quite right.

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  34. Thanks for your comments Ashwini. As you said, people should not do this profit.

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  35. Thanks for teaching me a new word - course pack and its illegal ? What the heck . I mean we lived all the graduation course packing. For instance there is Baltimore's biotech book which costs 3k rs. At that time its a huge amt for a student to spend. COURSE packing is the only life saver u know !

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  36. Thanks for your comments Afshan. Course Pack is not illegal. Photocopying the entire book and selling for a huge profit is illegal. It is meant to be given to students for free.

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