A document in a college in Central Vietnam signed by its headmaster has caused public concern as it asks students to buy photocopied textbooks from its library for their English course in the next semester.
Among the six required textbooks on the list, four belong to state-owned Books and Publication Distribution Company (Fahasa) which has exclusive copyrights given by the foreign publishers. Fahasa said that reprinting in any form of English language books was a serious infringement of the copyrights act.
In reality, in colleges and universities in Ho Chi Minh City, many students use English photocopied textbooks. At photocopy shops around educational facilities, these can be easily copied.
High price of English textbooks is to blame for copyright infringement.
On the one hand, people supported a publisher to file a lawsuit recently against a foreign language center for violating copyright of foreign language teaching books, but on the other hand, copyright infringement in universities and colleges received sympathy from many people, even from publishers, because centers sold books to students at same price or even higher, though the quality of the textbooks was not as good as the original. Meanwhile students who cannot buy textbooks at such high prices resort to copied textbooks, which is totally justified, said a Director of a well-known publishing company.
Pham Minh Thuan, General Director of Fahasa, said imported textbooks in Vietnam are as high as in other countries because they are newly printed. For foreign readers, the price is fair price but for Vietnamese learners the price is far too exorbitant.
Thuan said the price of some latest editions is much lower than in some foreign countries, but these textbooks are marked ‘for sale only in Vietnam’.
There have been some suggestions to reduce price of textbooks, especially English textbooks in Vietnam, such as foreign publishers printing them in Vietnam–which has not worked out.
Nguyen Thi My Loan, Sales Manager at Fahasa, said schools should directly contact Fahasa or other distributors to get discount of upto 10-20 percent.