oppn parties Supreme Court Judgments: Not Protected by Copyright

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  • Phagu Chauhan is the new Governor of Bihar while Ramesh Bais has been appointed as that of Tripura
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  • Naga talks interlocutor RN Ravi appointed as Governor of Nagaland
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  • Supreme Court gives 9 more months to complete the Babri Masjid demolition case trial
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  • S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, says Pakistan should release and repatriate Kulbhushan Jadhav immediately
  • Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala asks the Speaker to hold the trust vote latest by 1.30 pm today
  • The Government sends a list of 24 questions to mobile app company that runs video app TikTok seeking answers for anti-national and obscene content carried on the platform
Former Delhi CM and senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit dies following a cardiac arrest. She was 81
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Supreme Court Judgments: Not Protected by Copyright

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Judgments delivered by the Supreme Court have wide legal ramifications. Hence, they need to be widely circulated among lawyers, academicians, law students and other interested persons. With the advent of the internet and several legal websites, access to these judgments has become easier. The Supreme Court itself has a Judgment Information System (JIS) where each judgment is posted and can be searched though various parameters. But when it comes to hard copy, a few firms have been traditionally taking out publications reporting these judgments as Supreme Court Cases (SCC). These publishing houses employ editors who classify the judgments according to the verdict given by the court. There is other editorial work in the form of references, clarifications and explanations. But can such publishing houses claim copyright over the judgments and the editorial input and prevent others from reproducing the material?

Eastern Book Company has been publishing SCC’s in book form for a long time. They had got a ad interim injunction order from the District Judge, Lucknow to restrain Reed Elsevier India Pvt. Ltd. from reproducing content from their books, which they claimed were literary works and hence protected by copyright. The Allahabad High Court subsequently upheld the same. Aggrieved by this, Reed Elsevier approached the Supreme Court.

A Supreme Court bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana has recently ruled that Supreme Court judgments are not bound by copyright and everyone has the right to reproduce them (if they are put out as reportable by the court) and comment on them.

The court agreed with the counsel of Reed Elsevier that terms like “concurring”, “partly concurring”, “dissenting” etc. are generic terms commonly used in legal parlance and no one claim copyright over such assessment of court judgments. Also, a publishing house using Supreme Court judgments, whether raw or editorially enhanced, cannot claim such work to be literary work protected by copyright. The court allowed Reed Elsevier to reproduce the judgments.