Art and Indian Copyright Law: A Statutory Reading

A look at how the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, as amended in 2012, interacts with art (other than films and sound recordings), and, in particular, with Indian art. The first part of this text comprises a feminist and post-colonial reading of the Indian copyright statute while later parts focus on interpreting the provisions of the statute in relation to art.

15 January 2013

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On January 12, 2013, Prashant Reddy published a post ‘IP ideologies and the Swartz suicide’. His post was time-stamped 3:58 pm, and he began by saying, “I had never heard about Aaron Swartz until Swaraj’s post below about his life and suicide.” His reference to ‘Swaraj’s post below’ was a reference to a post by Swaraj Paul Barooah published at 1:29 pm on the same day. (I’ve taken these times from the landing page of SpicyIP as of 00:25; January 15, 2013).

I disagreed with much of the content of Prashant Reddy’s post (although that’s not something I would like to discuss at the moment). Pertinently to this post, as a general rule, I do not believe it is possible to develop a clear understanding of the nuances of another person’s life in two and a half hours, regardless of how impressive one’s analytic and intuitive skills are. Reading Prashant's post left me extremely upset and angry, and I posted two tweets in immediate succession after having read it:
If I've got the times significantly wrong, and Prashant has, in fact, spent more than a few hours thinking through what he's said in his post on Aaron Swartz, I apologize unreservedly for my disgust upon reading it (although I do not, in any way, agree with much of what he says). However, if the times are correct, and Prashant has chosen to opine without having taken the time to carefully think through what he's said in the context of Aaron Swartz and his life, I believe what he's done here is callous and  inappropriate.

At any rate, on January 14, I was informed by a lawyer that Prashant had chosen to write a post 'Rebutting ad hominem Twitter attacks' to his post — specifically, it appears, mine (although, I will say that Prashant and I seem to understand the term 'ad hominem attacks' differently). I found no mention in his post of my second tweet  explaining my disgust, which I had posted a few minutes after the first tweet which he quoted.

I posted the following tweets after having read Prashant's rebuttal:
And, as an afterthought a short while later:

I have no idea what exactly caused Aaron Swartz to commit suicide beyond being reasonably certain that the possibility of jail-time does nothing to alleviate depression, assuming that depression was the cause.

I do, however, believe Aaron Swartz's death raises issues regarding the kind of society we want to build and what an appropriate response to 'data liberation' is, amongst others. Personally, it has caused me to consider the role of lawyers in the proprietary knowledge economy in ways I have never done before, and there are questions which I have to answer for myself (and will). I cannot, at this time, address any of these issues though I'm still far too upset even though I had no connection to Aaron Swartz at all.


I've published this post primarily to collate what I had said, and to apologize if I was mistaken about the time Prashant spent thinking through his post on Aaron Swartz. I was surprised by Prashant's rather lengthy rebuttal of what was, on my part, an emotional response to his post; I hadn't realised my feelings merited any column space anywhere. I have absolutely no desire to engage in any discussion / speculation, constructive or otherwise, on anything related to Aaron Swartz at this time, and ask that anyone who reads this post respects that.

(This post is by Nandita Saikia and was first published at Indian Copyright.)

Update: 8:15 a.m. | Jan. 15, 2013: To those of you who've commented: Thank you. I've decided not to publish any comments on this post though; I'm extremely uncomfortable continuing a conversation of this nature, and have turned off comments. I trust you understand. 

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