Online Teaching

Online Teaching

In wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic, which witnessed the collapse of the whole classroom-based educational system, a shutdown of all the academic colleges and universities; that is when online teaching rose to the occasion as a panacea. As education moved to the online mode of teaching, the next major challenge was the question of the fair dealing in copyright.

online classes

Relevant Sections of the Copyright Act

Section 52(1) of the Indian Copyright Act 1957, enunciates the Doctrine of Fair Use. The term “fair use” or “fair dealing” is defined in the Act, but it allows people to make some free uses of the copyrighted material without it be considered as an infringement of the copyright. The reason for such a provision is to strike a balance between the copyright owners and society at large.

Therefore, this section allows for the legitimate use of the copyrighted work for educational, scientific, and cultural advancement of the society.

As Per Section 13 of the Copyright Act 1957 [1] copyright protection is conferred on literary, dramatic, artistic, musical cinematographic films and sound recordings.

Section 14[2] of the Act, pronounces a bundle of exclusive rights confers upon the owner of copyright, i.e., such rights can be exercised only by the owner or by a third party who has been granted a license by the owner of the copyright. So, on one hand; section 13 and 14 of the Indian Copyright Act extensively talks about the bundle of rights with the copyright owner, section 52 authorizes the exploitation of the copyrighted work by the public without any prior permission, license or agreement.

Section 52(1) of the copyright act extensively elaborates the exceptional cases wherein the uses of copyrighted material would not fall under any infringement. Section 52(1)(h)[3] carves out that anything which is reproduced by pupils or teacher specifically for educational purposes with a bonafide intent does not amount to infringement of copyright. Section 52(1)(i)[4] deals with the reproduction of a work in the course of instruction by a teacher or pupil, but making such videos public and uploading them on various public platforms would lead to the copyright infringement.

Classic Case

In DU photocopying case, court taking a broader interpretation and states that section 52(1)(i) does not limit to physical classroom setup but to the entire programme of education in a semester, which extends to the online mode of education as well.

Final Remarks

Online education has helped in bridging the gap of geographical limitations in education and enables wider dissemination of learning. The pace at which IT based online education is taking off, it becomes imperative for the legislators to come up with innovative solutions to the existing challenges of Copyright Infringement.

Author: Shriya Pandita, First year law student at RGSOIPL, IIT Kharagpur

[1] 13. Works in which copyright subsists. — (1) Subject to the provisions of this section and the other

provisions of this Act, copyright shall subsist throughout India in the following classes of works, that is to say, —

  1. original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works;
  2. cinematograph films; and
  3. sound recording

[2] 14. Meaning of Copyright. — For the purposes of this Act, “copyright” means the exclusive right subject to the provisions of this Act, to do or authorize the doing of any of the following acts in respect of a work or any substantial part thereof

[3] (h) the publication in a collection, mainly composed of non-copyright matter, bona fide intended for

instructional use, and so described in the title and in any advertisement issued by or on behalf of the

publisher, of short passages from published literary or dramatic works, not themselves published for such

use in which copyright subsists:

Provided that not more than two such passages from works by the same author are published by the

same publisher during any period of five years.

[4] (i) the reproduction of any work— (i) by a teacher or a pupil in the course of instruction; or (ii) as part of the question to be answered in an examination; or (iii) in answers to such questions;


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