"Grant Recognition To Actual Publisher For Issuance Of ISBN & Not Authorised Representative": Delhi High Court Issues Notice In Plea

  • Sakshi Shukla
  • 01:02 AM, 17 Apr 2021

Delhi High Court has issued notice in a petition seeking recognition of the name of publisher while granting ISBN instead of the authorised person of such publisher. 

A Singh Judge Bench of Justice Pratibha M. Singh, while issuing notice in the matter said,

“This issue is one which concerns not just the Petitioner but many other similarly placed parties as well and could create some confusion. Accordingly, issue notice.”

The Petitioner is a public charitable trust and is a book publisher, having published a large number of books with International Standard Book Number (hereinafter ‘ISBN’) from the Respondents.

It is the case of the petitioner that while the erstwhile system recognized the actual “Publisher” as the publisher for the purpose of issuing ISBN, the new system introduced by the respondents, recognizes the applicant that is, the “authorized person of the Publisher” as the publisher for granting ISBN. This may create “enormous difficulty” as the authorised person may change from time to time.

Matter has been listed for hearing on April 22, 2021.

The Respondents have been called to file response on the change in system, if any.

As per the website of Respondent 1, “ISBN is a unique International Publisher’s Identifier number, which is meant for monograph publications. ISBN is the thirteen-digit number, which replaces the handling of long bibliographic descriptive records. ISBN is known throughout the world as a short and clear machine-readable identification number, which marks any book unmistakably. ISBN is a machine readable in the form of 13-digit i.e. Book land EAN Bar Code.”

Petitioner is the copyright owner and publisher of books written by Late His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and is registered under the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950.

Exercising the rights vested in it vide the Deed of Trust dated 30.03.1972, the Petitioner has published several books, speeches and other writings, including the interpretation of Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam of Srila Prabhupada.

“ISBNs are not only essential in cataloguing books, but also identifies all the publications to a particular ‘publisher’. If the authorised person is recognised as a ‘Publisher’, then different ISBNs obtained by different authorised person would identify different ‘Publisher’ even though all the books would be owned and published by one publishing house”, the plea states.

Cause of Action arose on 05.02.2021, when the manager of the petitioner, while applying for ISBN on the new website of the Respondent, entered his name and when the ISBN was earmarked, it was in the name of the authorised representative of the petitioner.

Manager of the petitioner made several correspondences with the respondents and was informed that the system was designed in such a way that against the publisher’s name, only an individual’s name can be shown.

This in effect meant that the person applying for ISBNs will be recognized as Publisher and the actual publisher would be recognized as a publishing agency.

Prayer has been sought to issue a writ of mandamus, directing the respondents to recognize the petitioner as the ‘publisher’ of the books concerned.

[Petitioner(s) represented by Mr. Kuriakose Verghese and Ms. Vaishali Goyal, Advocates.]

Case Title: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust v. Raja Ram Mohan Roy National Agency & Anr |  WP (C) 4529