Copyrights, Creativity and Culture

Abantee Dutta & Manak Matiyani

Study Material published by Magic Lantern Foundation | 2010 | Supported by The Ford Foundation


The present research text, compiled under the aegis of The Magic Lantern Foundation, meant literally that hundreds of people had to contribute in ways small and big to make it happen. The first debt, we owe then, is to the staff members and photocopiers of the Parliament Library, The Indian Law Institute and the JNU Library, who graciously took the task of helping us in our research and made it a pleasurable exercise. It is impossible to name all the members of this community of people, but thanks to all. Thanks to Lawrence Liang and the team at The Alternative Law Forum for chai and conversation which led us perspective in shaping the research. Thanks to Sunil Abraham and Pranesh Prakash and the Centre for Internet and society for hosting us for a week at Bangalore and sharing their resources to help us structure the research. Thanks to Baldevji, our dear typist, for helping us type scrolls and scrolls of illegible handwriting without a complaint. A personal note of thanks to Magic Lantern Foundation, Uma Katju, Kuber, Pritom, Dr. Neelakshi Deka for believing and backing this initiative.

Abantee Dutta & Manak Matiyani


Chapter 1: Introduction

Introduction Intellectual property laws confer a bundle of exclusive rights in relation to the particular form or manner in which ideas or information are expressed or manifested, and not in relation to the ideas or concepts themselves. The term “intellectual property” denotes the specific legal rights that authors, inventors and other IP holders may hold and exercise, and not the intellectual work itself. And this already complex description becomes even…

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Chapter 2: Locating the Author

There is a strange irony in the term author. In most usages across the world, the “author” is a common sense and an obvious term. An author is a person who writes something. However, the literary theories sought to address the complex process of creation. Thus, often deeply metaphysical concepts, the positions and discourses around the author have vacillated across centuries and across countries. This discussion attempts to bring together…

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Chapter 3: The History of Ideas

The History of Ideas “Steal not this book, my worthy friend For fear the gallows will be your end; Up the ladder, and down the rope, There you’ll hang until you choke; Then I’ll come along and say – Where’s that book you stole away?” – Medieval Book Curse Pre History of Copyrights The idea that an idea can be owned – is a child of the European Enlightenment. It…

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Chapter 4: Private Networks and Public Access

Private Networks and Public Access: Technology and Copyright law The “transforming revolution” of the twentieth century, the advent of digital technology radically changed the shape of “literary works,” their production, exchange and consumption as well as the paradigm of the debates around copyright laws. The changing nature of the author, proprietary nature of ideas, ownership and control all coalesce in and are invalidated by the shifting nature of the new…

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Chapter 5: Copyright Movement in India

Developing countries have traditionally understood copyright as an area of both commercial and cultural regulation, and indeed, many of them have emphasized the cultural benefits that may be gained from effective copyright policies. In contrast to this approach, the TRIPS Agreement has brought a new commercial emphasis to intellectual property at the international level. In the area of copyright, the focus of the Agreement is on the development of “copyright…

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