Publishers, booksellers start petition against Maharashtra policy

Jun 01, 2018, 12:29 IST | Pallavi Smart

The state textbook bureau had declared it will start charging royalty to private publishers, who want to use its content to create supporting study materials

A screen grab of the online petition started by the publishers and coaching institute owners.
A screen grab of the online petition started by the publishers and coaching institute owners.

Private book publishers and sellers are up in arms against the state government's plan to charge them royalty. The associations of publishers as well as coaching institutes have come together against a new policy by the state government to do this. They have started an online petition against the policy. In the past three days since it began, it has garnered over 3,000 signatures in support.

Enabling the Copyright Act, last week Balbharati, the state textbook bureau, declared that it will now start charging royalty to private publishers, who want to use its content to create supporting study materials. These charges will range from Rs 35,000 to Rs 63,000 per year per book, depending on format of reproduction of the content - print, digital or tutorials. As per the new policy, it won't be easy for private publishers to reproduce Balbharati's content for students' favourites such as - simplified notes by coaching institutes, guides, set of expected questions, work sheets etc. without obtaining the required licence from it (Balbharati).

A hearing from CM
"Nowhere in the world such a system exists. This is like taxing students and parents for education and we are of the opinion that not only should the government clarify all the ambiguities and doubts but the new act must be withdrawn," states the online petition started by private publishers, who claim it is receiving a good response.

The petition, while garnering support from parents, students, educationists and the public at large, seeks one hearing from the chief minister of Maharashtra before implementation of the decision.

Narendra Nandu, president of Bombay Booksellers and Publishers' Association, said, "When the policy was in the making, we had requested Balbharati to have our representatives on the committee before deciding on the final plan. We feel we weren't given a fair chance to put across our concerns."

No supporting study material
For students there is more trouble as they keep waiting for the study material. "Schools will start in few days. But coaching institutes have already begun for class X. The syllabus too is new this year. Supporting study material is of great help," said Sai Sawant, a student from Borivali.

Harsha Jadhav, a parent said, "As publishers have to pay royalty charges, they will increase the cost of the books. This means eventually parents will have to bear the brunt which is unfair."

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