Filmed by Jyotsna Singh, produced and edited by Tom Griggs. Additional footage by Reuters
Every day, Dharam Pal Singh Bisht hands out photocopies of textbook chapters to students at Delhi University-- 100 sheets of paper for less than a dollar. With this transaction and hundreds like it every day, Mr. Bisht is taking on the might of some of the world's biggest academic publishers, who claim he is violating their copyright. But he says he's doing a social good.
These students are relying on us, rely on books. We don't have enough supply of books in the library. And other outside books are very costly to buy.
In March, three international publishing companies, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Taylor and Frances, dropped their legal case against Mr. Bisht They said his actions would make it difficult to do business in India. But the Delhi high court ruled that it was not in students' interests to shut him down.
90% of students come from a very poor background, even finance poor background. This is very important for them, too.
India is potentially very lucrative for English language academic publishers. The country is the sixth biggest publishing market in the world and the second largest English language market behind the US. It has 25 million students in three million schools, hundreds of universities, and tens of thousands of colleges.
And the education market is expanding, along with India's economy and the population as a whole. Though the companies do not declare how much they make in India, figures from research group Nielsen show that the overall revenues in the academic publishing sector have rocketed.
But while the opportunities are significant, so are the hurdles, none more so than the perception of weak intellectual property protection. The companies involved in the case against Mr. Bisht declined to speak to the Financial Times, but Mr. Bisht is clear about what he thinks.
Actually, they are doing again like-- East India Company measures to grab money, much more money, through this. In India, education is a religious thing. And they are doing this dirty job. Instead of this, they could have some cheaper books or something which can be-- or could be beneficial for the poorest friends who are the third world countries.
Publishers say they cannot afford to cut the price of their books. But as Mr. Bisht points out, they haven't yet left the country. Kiran Stacey, Financial Times, Delhi.