Friday, November 18, 2011

Beware of Google

Intellectual property right is a new-fangled and an anti-Indian concept.

It is a foreign word for the average Janardan who fearlessly lifts data off Google unperturbed by terms such as “public domain”, “crediting” and “copyright”. There certainly is a strong murmur of cut and paste crimes but as to what ‘plagiarism’ precisely is, the grasp is hazy and porous.

We are not to be blamed, are we?! In this country, property has always meant one of the three things: land, ‘kothi’ or gold. So there is legitimate and public vexation at the entire brouhaha over something that appears intangible, is freely shared and worse, happens to be a phenomenon claiming credit for which is considered bad form, traditionally. Intellectual property, in other words. The creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names, images and designs, all used for the purpose of commerce.

How does this law apply to a community amongst whom the sharing of ideas, notions and theories is the norm. Why, we Indians are masters at exchanging recipes, skills, experiences, secret tricks, home remedies… we will go so far as to share social techniques. A full, authoritative and totally confident counselling session can be yours at the mere appearance of a sad flicker on your face. 

It is indigenous, this sense of community ownership over anything not made of bricks or gold! Would a desi claim royalty for teaching the gayatri mantra? Would you expect a copyright compensation for lending a lullaby lyric? Imagine charging for a cold-potion formula! Or for that matter, kitchen cures for dandruff and a yogic asana to stamp out that nasty nasal allergy. As a matter of fact, in group efforts, the biggest contributor stays the quietest. It is not done in our culture to claim credit and hanker over something called an intellectual property law.

Who do we owe royalty to for the authorship of Mahabharata? Lord Ganesha or Rishi Vyas? And does the copyright of Ramayana go to Sage Valmiki? Did these venerable, in their times, expect to be compensated via the intellectual property law? How about the Natya Shastra? The Kaam Sutra? The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali?

What if the legal IP regime got after our nazar ka teeka and nimboo mirch totka ? They would do well to remember that the Human Rights Law at present only seems to addresses individual rights but how about the collective rights of a cultural community? 

Two things come to mind. One, the laws have to be guided by the principle of sustainable development and two, I miss the India we used to be, when ordinary people were happy to be photographed any and everywhere; today they ask for money. Intellectual property law indeed!!

Note: All pics by Asawari


Aqseer said...
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Honey Sangha said...
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