Academic publishers lose copyright court case in India
The past month has seen a major setback for publishers in a long-running court case against a photocopying shop based at Delhi University. The three publishers – the university presses of Oxford and Cambridge, and Taylor & Francis – have been fighting to prevent the shop from producing course packs for students containing unlicensed copies of sections from their titles.
In a judgement on September 16th, the court dismissed the publishers’ claims and lifted a ban on the photocopying shop producing the packs, concluding that copyright was intended to ‘stimulate activity and progress in the arts for the intellectual enrichment of the public’ and ‘to increase and not to impede the harvest of knowledge’.
The publishers have since returned to the courts in Delhi to challenge the judgement, which they say has already resulted in hundreds more photocopying shops across the region selling copies of their books, but have been rebuffed. Pointing out in a joint statement that a ‘legitimate and affordable licensing scheme’ was already in place at Delhi University, the publishers warned that the court’s decision might ultimately ‘undermine the availability of original content for … students and teachers’.
While students, campaigners, and many newspapers welcomed the decision, some lawyers and IP experts questioned its legality, noting that the judgment seems, perhaps inadvertently, to have legalised the copying of entire publications. A final ruling in the case will be made on November 29th.
Mixed news on revenues
There’s been mixed news on revenues within the academic sector. In the US, the Association of American Publishers reported a significant decline in sales for educational and professional publishers, comparing April 2016 to April 2015; with university presses dropping 8.7% for the month. In the UK, the Independent Publishers Guild reported at its autumn one-day conference that 46% of its professional and journal publishers were seeing growth, and 47% of its educational publishers – both figures down markedly from last year. However, Edinburgh University Press has just reported a rise of 5% in revenues, reversing the previous year’s decline to finish just shy of £3 million for the twelve months ending in July 2016. The Press has also announced the acquisition of Costume: The Journal of the Costume Society, from Taylor and Francis.
Experiments in university bookselling
There’s more positive news for university bookselling, after a troubled year which has seen Plymouth’s University Bookseller shut after 42 years’ trading, and the threatened closure of academic bookshop at Leicester University. The Bookseller reports that Blackwell’s has launched two new ‘concept’ bookshops on the university campuses at Liverpool and Cardiff, as part of a trial that may if successful be rolled out at the chain’s other 31 university stores. The bookshops integrate Blackwell’s print and digital offerings, highlighting its Blackwell Learning e-textbook platform, and offering book-and-print ‘bundles’ for an additional £5 on the cost of the print version. Nationwide, the retailer has also launched a Student Price Match Guarantee, promising that its prices on key titles will not be undercut by those at Amazon, Waterstones, and W H Smith.
Partnerships and acquisitions
Pearson has announced a year-long partnership with the UK not-for-profit tertiary education digital provider JISC on a pilot project that will allow member institutions to access the whole of the company’s higher education e-textbook collection according to one of two usage models: limited or unlimited concurrent usage. Over the course of the year, the two parties will work with institutions to assess the models before JISC produces a report on the trial towards the end of the trial period. The agreement follows six months of negotiations between the two parties. Wiley, meanwhile, has followed its acquisition ofAtypon by buying Ranku, a recruitment technology and predictive analytics software company focused on higher education. The purchase will expand Wiley’s portfolio of services to educational institutions, adding Ranku’s ability to forecast demand for courses both from consumers and from the labour market.
Richard Charkin, executive director at Bloomsbury and outgoing president of the International Publishers Association, will be joining the team on University College, London’s Publishing MA course, as an honorary member of staff. Meanwhile Rowman & Littlefield has promoted Jenny Cima to director for international sales and marketing just two years after joining the company as head of international sales. Oliver Gadsby, president of the publisher’s academic and professional division, will now also serve as chair of NBN International, the group’s subsidiary offering distribution and publisher services, taking over from Ken Rhodes.
Alastair Horne writes our Academic Newsletter.