Get it right, the copyright

The Government playing Blindman's Bluff with its citizens instead of being inclusive!

Responding to a call posted on the Rajya Sabha Website where now and then, standing committees mulling over our collective future as a nation act responsibly by inviting comments, I sent off the following comments on the proposed amendment to the Indian Copyright Act, 1957. All in all an opportunity which has only been half, if improperly used by the Government. In any case, in hope that all comments are given their due, I have shared mine within the deadline of May 31st, 2010 (So, run and send yours too; there are two more days).

Thanks to a tweet from Sunil Abraham of Centre for Internet and Society.
It is a laudable effort of the Government to bring the existing legislation up to date with international consensus and frameworks. Kindly note the following comments.

1) We endorse the reading of “fair use” to apply to private and personal use legalising any use of copyrighted material for private or personal use such as making backups of material for personal use, which in some country contexts (like the DMCA of USA) has not been read as fair use.

2) While it is commendable that the Act removes the need to pay royalty/seek permission for conversion of copyrighted text to Braille, the spirit of inclusivity is lost as most people with visual impairment have moved on to e-readers and audiobooks. We strongly recommend that the amendment be widened to be applied for all types of devices/technologies that are geared towards making a particular text available for visually impaired. Such a wide application of the amendment would make India indeed a pioneer in inclusive legislation.

3) We appreciate the move to give content creators more rights over their creation and this move to shift some power from industry to individuals who create content is commendable.

4) While the efforts to provide copyrights as a right to assert authority over intellectual or other kinds of original work is an important role for legislation, we believe legislation should also make space for frameworks which explicitly try to improve and open up opportunities for collaboration. Various such frameworks are in use worldwide today, one well known among them being the Creative Commons system. Original work ‘copyrighted’ under this system encourages the spirit of sharing while still allowing the creator to retain ‘intellectual rights’ over his/her work.

For more, please see

Leading institutions and governments are now in the process of adopting and endorsing the Creative Commons system. We request that the Committee consider the option of providing a legal space to such licensing within a legislative framework.


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