Pune: The Association of Publishers and Distributors (APD) are fuming over the new licence policy created by Balbharati for publishing supportive material for the school textbooks. According to APD, Balbharati cannot claim copyright over the textbooks as they are not the ones who write it.
Apparently, from this year Balbharati has started claiming copyright over the textbooks published by them for the State Board schools from Standard I to X.
APD takes out guidebooks and other supporting material for the school students. If they want to take out the guidebooks, they will have to pay Rs 63,000 plus GST per subject, per standard, per medium.
Deepak Sheth, Secretary, Association of Publishers and Distributors has questioned how can Balbharati copyright the textbooks when all they do is just compile the facts into one book.
“For past 50 years, students have been using guidebooks along with their school textbooks and this year, all of a sudden, Balbharati has imposed licence policy on us. The publishers believe they don’t violate copyright infringement as they don’t replicate the textbooks. The questions are taken from the textbooks and answers given are the respective authors’ own representation of the topic. Moreover, additional question-answers, grammar activities, practice problems and solutions etc., matter is created to give a complete coverage of the topic,” Sheth stated.
Sheth said that if publishers have to pay such high fees, the cost of these books will go up at least by Rs 15 to 20, which would be unaffordable for many parents and students.
There are 45 publishers across Maharashtra who publish supplementary material, workbooks and guidebooks in English, Marathi, Hindi and Urdu for schools across Tier I, II, III cities and towns in the State.
Sheth said that even the NCERT doesn’t claim copyright on its books and allows the publication of guidebooks.
“Smaller publishers will have to bear the brunt of the policy the most, especially those publishing books in Marathi, Urdu and Hindi. Many are considering completely stopping publishing books in these languages due to cost constraints. In the rural areas of the State, where there are no coaching classes, the students highly depend on the guidebooks. They would be the most affected by this decision,” Sheth added.
Rakesh Rambia of Chetana Publication said, “Around 85 to 90 per cent of the publishers will be wiped out because of the policy. Many small, local publishers print hardly 2,000 copies. They would not be able to afford the high licence fees, and will have to shut down their business.”
Sheth said it is impossible for publishers to raise the cost of the books beyond a certain point as the students would stop buying and instead get the book photocopied from each other.
Parin Furia of Jeevandeep Prakashan called the policy completely unfair and said, “The policy is very advantageous to the large, settled publishers, on the other hand, harmful to the start-ups. Does the government not want any new companies in the field of publication?”
The association members have pointed out the arbitrary manner in which Balbharati will allow or refuse or revoke licences to publishers, stating that it can result in unhealthy practices in the licencing process.