India: Fair Use Doctrine-Blatant Copying of University Books Not Permitted

Last Updated: 13 December 2005
Article by Manisha Singh


Not all the uses of copyrighted work without the consent of the author, amount to infringement. On the considerations of public interest, certain uses with respect to the copyrighted works have been kept outside the purview of infringement. In legal parlance, these exceptions are known as ‘fair use exceptions’. Fair use exception is envisaged as a balance between the interests of the authors or owners of the copyright and the public at large. One such exception is contained in Section 52 (1)(h) of the Copyright Act, 1957 that runs as follows:

" The reproduction of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work—

  1. by a teacher or a pupil in the course of instruction
  2. as part of the questions to be answered in an examination; or
  3. in answers to such question"

In addition, the review, criticism of a copyright work does not amount to infringement. The scope of this provision came for determination before Delhi High Court in the recent case of Syndicate of Press of the University of Cambridge trading as Cambridge University Press & Anr V. B. D. Bhandari & Anr 2005 (31) PTC 58 (Del).

Factual Background

Cambridge University Press publishes the well-known grammar book titled "Advance Grammar in Use by Martin HEWINGS" which is prescribed textbook for many universities all over the World. In India, this publication is prescribed by Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar for graduation students in all streams of study. The defendant Mr. Bhandari began to publish English Guides titled "MBD English Guide" which was a verbatim copy of the several extracts from the Cambridge University Publication. The Defendant plagiarized even the scheme of exercise, answers, and placement topics in his impugned guide.

Cambridge University Press instituted a suit for infringement of its copyright. The Court passed ad interim ex parte injunction against Mr. Bhandari restraining him from incorporating and utilizing the verbatim text taken from Cambridge University press publication. After the notice Mr. Bhandari appeared before the Court and defended his case. The essence of argument put up by Mr. Bhandari was that ‘printing and publishing of a guide and reproduction of a matter essentially required from the point of view of examination from the book prescribed by the University in the syllabi does not amount to infringement of copyright’. The impugned guide provides understanding of the syllabi by giving detailed instruction for answering the exercises and is in nature of research work or review. The defendant claimed that his act is covered the exception enumerated in Section 52(1)(h) of the Copyright Act, 1957.

The defendant placed reliance on various precedents to bear out his contention. In Ramesh Chaudhry & Ors V. Ali Mohd AIR 1965 J&K 101 the Court had ruled that

"Once the original authors of the books allowed the University to publish it in their syllabus and the University published it as a part of their syllabus prescribed for its students, the matter went into the hands of the general public and no copyright in the strict sense of the term remained with the original authors. Having been published by the university, it became more or less a public property. Any member of the public could publish a review or a criticism, or guide to this book."


Delhi High Court considered the applicability of the above-mentioned precedent to the present case. The ratio of the said case was that review, criticism and guide of the work published by the university did not amount to infringement of copyright. The Court examined the meaning of the terms ‘review’, ‘criticism’ and ‘guide’ to see as to whether the impugned work was within the meaning of these exceptions. The Court Held:

"A review may summarize the original work and present it for the perusal to a third person so that such person may get an idea about the work. A criticism may discuss the merits and demerits of the work. A guide may seek to enable the students of the original work to better understand it from the point of view of the examinations. Verbatim lifting of the text to the extent of copying the complete set of exercise and the key to such exercise cannot be in any manner termed as review, criticism or a guide to the original work."

Therefore, the impugned guide published by the defendant cannot be called a review, criticism or guide of the ‘"Advance Grammar in Use by Martin HEWINGS" published by Cambridge University Press.

The applicability of the exception contained in Section 52(1)(h) (refer to the introductory paragraph) was also considered by the Court. The Court was of the opinion that this exception is applicable only where the reproduction is made as a part of the question to be answered in the examination or in answers to such questions. This exception would not be applicable in the instance case because the reproduction is not made as a part of the questions and answers; rather the complete set of questions and answers has been copied from the original work. The Court confirmed the grant of ad interim injunction against the defendant Mr. Bhandari.


Fair Use doctrine does not permit brazen copying of the original copyrighted work for commercial benefits. Even though review, criticism and publishing guide is permitted, independent mental labour and skill must go in such reproduction. Slavish copy of the original work be it a University prescribed publication, cannot be justified under this doctrine.

© Lex Orbis 2005

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions