Delhi HC says no to researchers wanting to be heard in case against academic pirate websites

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The Delhi High Court has rejected the application of three researchers requesting it to allow them to intervene in a copyright infringement suit filed by major global publishers against pirate websites Sci-Hub and Libgen.

“If such intervention is permitted, it would be a blanche for persons, who claim to be beneficiaries of material which is alleged to be infringing in nature, to start intervening in the infringement proceedings, which would seriously impact the prosecution of the proceedings in the court,” said Justice C Hari Shankar in an order.

It had been argued in the application that works in question on these websites are works which are of use to several researchers and that if they are taken off the internet, it would have a deleterious impact on public interest.
However, the court said that, by itself, cannot constitute a basis to allow a third party to intervene in the proceedings in such a fashion.

“If the material in question is infringing, it would have to be taken off and if the consequence is that it becomes unavailable to persons who were making use of such material, that is but a consequence which follows in law, and cannot be a basis for such persons to intervene in the litigation which is in the nature of a lis in personam,” it said.

A group of scientists and other academic groups last year had filed applications seeking to intervene in the matter. Only notices have been issued in those applications.

Elsevier, Wiley India, Wiley Periodicals, American Chemical Society, which are top global publishing houses in the field of scientific and academic publications and market, sell and license various digitised journals including The Lancet and Cell. Last year, they filed the case against Sci-Hub, a pirate website that provides free access to millions of research papers and books otherwise copyright protected, and Library Genesis (Libgen), another website which provides free access to journals, and alleged that they indulge in online piracy by making available to the public their literary work for free.

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