By Geeta Dalal
Education sector is fast changing world over. New and innovative methods are in use to improve educational methods. Use of information and communication technology (ICT) to manage education related aspects is now a common feature these days.
These days a common question that is frequently asked is will e-books kill the bookstores in India? This genuine and interesting question is asked because the e-books publications in India and e-commerce industry are fast becoming popular. E-learning in India and distance learning education are also fast emerging.
Digital contents and e-books have created conducive environment for digital learning in India. The e-books market of India is really lucrative and this is the reason that many national and international e-commerce players are trying to make their mark in this unexplored market.
However, on the legal side we have a problem with this rush. We have no dedicated e-commerce laws and regulations in India and e-books publication laws in India. As a matter of fact, e-books publication, sales and distribution laws of India have still to be drafted by Indian legislature. Till then laws like Indian Copyright Act, 1957, Indian Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000), etc would govern e-books publication distribution and sales in India.
In foreign jurisdictions, regulation of e-books sellers and distributors is well organised. Any deviance from standard practice is taken very seriously there. The cases of European Commission and publishers’ settlement for e-book price fixing and e-book price escalation lawsuit settlement by Penguin Group are examples of the same.
Indian government has also become strict vis-à-vis e-commerce players that are not following Indian laws in true letter and spirit. As a part of that effort the Indian government would ascertain beneficiary in Walmart probe. So legal aspects cannot be ignored in India by national and international e-books and e-commerce players.
Another related legal problem pertains to lack of proper electronic commerce dispute resolution in India. We do not use technological tools like e-courts and online dispute resolution (ODR) in India as on date. Till December 2012 we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-courts of India. Indian government must urgently start using technological methods like e-courts and ODR to inculcate confidence among foreign direct investment makers and e-commerce players.