Publishing guidebooks of Mathematics & Science for students is not a copyright infringement

New Delhi, Mar 5 (Representative) The Andhra Pradesh High Court last week declared that since mathematical equations and science subjects are a matter of fact, and are the laws of nature, each person is authorised to use them without any fear of copyright infringement. A Single Judge Bench of Justice V Sujatha while hearing a petitioner Addala Sitamahalakshmi of Deepthi Publications plea challenging a 2010 government order that restrained private colleges from publishing textbooks of Telugu Akademi, and also sought quashing of a criminal case registered against him in 2011 for the alleged piracy, said that academic or non-literary books even if pirated by a publisher, would be protected under Section 52 of the Copyright Act. The Court observed, “Once a book is declared as part of a syllabus, then, students are free to use the questions in it in any manner and therefore, guide books that are helping the students to solve the questions will also be covered under the fair use and exception to copyright.”The Court said that the copyright law unequivocally prescribes that there is no copyright except as provided in the Act, meaning that copyright stands converted from a natural or common law right to a statutory right. The Court said, “Copyright as a natural or common law right has thus been taken away by the Copyright Act. There can be no copyright in any author, composer or producer save as provided under the Copyright Act,” the bench opined. On what works are protected under the law, the Court reasoned that the Copyright Act applies only to original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. In the present case, the petitioner publishes and distributes books on Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Botany, and Zoology which cater to the needs of students studying intermediate, 11th, and 12th classes of CBSE and ICSE Boards. “Mathematical questions are an expression of laws of nature.

The discovery of such laws cannot confer a monopoly on those who describe it. The reason is that language is a limited medium, which enables a description of such laws of nature,” it added. Examining the copyright law further, the Court said the Act protects literary, musical, graphical, or other artistic forms of the works in which the author expresses the intellectual concepts. While clarifying that original work would be a subject matter of copyright “But this is not the case with mathematical equations and science subjects, as they are the matter of fact and laws of nature, so each person is authorized to use it without the fear of copyright infringement.” The Court said that books published by the petitioner are protected under Section 52 of the Copyright Act “which states that fair use is an exception to copyright infringement in the case of an educational use for the benefit of students and educational institutions.” “Therefore, even if the petitioner’s books are assumed to be the pirated copies of respondent No.2‘s books, the same action can be considered as an exception as defined under Section 52 of the Copyright Act, 1957,” the Court concluded. The Court further said that Section 13 of the Copyright Act states that only “original” literary, artistic, dramatic, and musical works are the subject matter of copyright. In the present case, the Court found the books in question to be non-literary and therefore concluded that they would not fall within the ambit of Section 13 of the Copyright Act. Thus, the Court quashed the criminal proceedings against the petitioner and directed the authorities to not interfere with the legitimate business operations of the petitioner under the guise of the government order. In the challenge against the government order, the Court said the decision was taken mainly to target the colleges that were directed not to prepare books on their own. The Court, however, refused to set aside the government order and suggested that the petitioner can file public interest litigation by specifically narrating the public injury that would be caused by the said order.