Home > Uncategorized > Whose copyright is it anyway?

Whose copyright is it anyway?

Today there was a bit of kerfuffle today amongst my ex company’s ex colleagues, including myself now having seen the film. ie friends at Ogilvy. From what I can gather, today being Republic Day, this film called Phir Mile Sur was launched/released. The reason we were rather agitated with the whole saga is that this film is based a lot on this film, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara.

When Mile Sur was released it took the country by storm. It generated a huge positive feeling of joy, patriotism and national unity amongst a normally cynical lot. It was rated amongst the best ever film of it’s genre and it spawned a rash of similar endeavours, all of which paled in comparison. Even today the film can give one goose bumps..I refer to the Indians of course

Now amazingly none of the publicity for this new film even refers to the creator of the original film, Mr Suresh Mullick, a legendary copy writer and creative director of Ogilvy India. And beyond that, a much loved man. This obviously made many of us who knew him, and were around when the film was made quite rather unhappy.

That led me thinking along the lines of giving credit when using someone else’s work. Beyond the obvious fact of due recognition, is the issue of copyright.

Looking at two vehicles that have gained tremendous traction recently..Facebook and Twitter, leads me to think that technology should make it more difficult to steal, but these two are going in the reverse direction.

Take Facebook for example. It is extremely easy to ‘share’ someone’s post on to your page. So the ease with which one can share what we like with our friends is admirable. But when you do this, you lose the name of the source. So unless the ‘sharer’ specifically mentions the source, the perception is that this material belongs to the person who shared.

Or from Twitter. Retweeting is very common ie passing along something you got that was interesting. Again most Twitter clients allow you the option of removing the name of the original tweet. Ends up with the similar situation as that of Facebook.

So technology that should prevent ‘stealing’ copyright is actually enabling and spreading it.

Then we start having the debate about IP and who owns it etc.

I don’t understand why the technology of today doesn’t embed basic ‘sharing’ and ‘RT” copyright for starters.

We need to start somewhere. The sooner we start with the widest impact the better it is to make a step forward. We need to make ‘acknowledgement’ part of the lingua franca of the generation coming up now in the age of Facebook and Twitter. This in turn leads to a greater understanding of copyright.

And going back to the point which I started, about Mile Sur..It is clearly conceived by Suresh. And now seeing people ‘remixing’ it without recognition is a symptom of the disease where copyright means little. The one who speaks the loudest or most often gets credit. That is a shame. And should stop!

  1. Asif Ansari
    January 26, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    This is one of those rare cases where emotions run very high, opinions vary and are divided about an issue. I can understand your angst since you were a part of the place where this anthem was born and personally knew the rightful architect(s) of this epic. I downloaded the PDF of the tribute to Suresh Mullick via agencyfaqs. There’s absolutely no doubt about the man’s legendary talent or credibility, and my respect and admiration for him knows no bounds after reading about him.

    Unfortunately, Suresh Mullick and Ogilvy lost bragging rights for the film back in 1988 when it was first launched. Everyone (including me) at that time just assumed this was a fantastic fluke by the Government of India’s Department of Audio Visual Publicity. There were no credits at the end of the film, no write-ups on Page 3, no self-promotion. The film was not entered at Cannes (like the TOI Titanium winner last year), etc. There was no Google, and no YouTube so only a handful of people who knew about the creators.

    This, of course is not an isolated instance. We all are aware of Lata Mangeshkar’s famous rendition of Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo on Republic Day after the Indo-China conflict in ’63. It’s rumored to have moved Jawaharlal Nehru to tears. We used to hear it every morning on the radio on Independence Day and Republic Days every year, for years. Very few people would know that this song has been penned by Kavi Pradeep and composed by C.Ramchandran. Lata Mangeshkar always gets the credit because she’s the public face of this anthem.

    How many people know the the team of writers behind the likes of Leno, Conan and Ellen by name? Do their names feature when the credits roll up at the end of every show? I don’t know.

    As far as the IP issue is concerned, I don’t think anyone is ‘stealing’ this and trying to pass it off as their own. It’s a contemporary take on a classic. I will not going to get into the debate of which one’s better. YouTube will make sure a lot more people who were previously ignorant about the 1988 version learn about it.

    Social networks thrive only because they enable sharing. When I retweet an interesting link or a quote, the original ‘author’ always gets credit. When I comment on someone’s Facebook status or post, it exposes that status or post to everyone on my network, increasing it’s visibility.

    If someone were to blatantly pass off articles/posts etc. as their own, they would be very quickly found out and shamed publicly. Anyone with an ounce of brains will know this and refrain from such practice. Of course, there have been instances of this happening, but the network is self-policing, and the culprits have almost always been brought to book.

    I’m sure you’re aware of the ‘copyleft’ phenomenon where an original creator puts out a piece of creative work (or software or whatever) and gives everyone permission to use it, modify it, tweak it WITHOUT crediting the author. And then there are other ‘free’ or limited use licenses where you can use a graphic or icon or whatever without amending it in anyway…you just have to credit the creator. While you can do this for software like Linux, etc. and put it out in the public domain, it’s a bit difficult to ‘own’ or license something that arouses such strong feelings of patriotism.

    As the web evolves and networks grow, we will see a lot of debates like this. One thing’s for sure though…transparency will prevail. So, delayed as it might seem, Suresh Mullick will ultimately get credit for this. You just have to be a bit patient.

      January 26, 2010 at 2:18 pm

      Asif..valid points. The Mile Sur sparked the point about sharing and RT where you have the option of not sharing credit. I think that option should not even be available. If you share someone else’s content, the source should be default. wrt Mile Sur itself, yes some of us are emotional/passionate about it. The point is still, that acknowledgement to the original should be made in what ever form. I am not aware of the publicity around the new film, but obviously those who have seen it believe there isn’t. There’s a reason IP lawyers make a ton of cash!! Thanks for taking time to read and, more importantly. comment. Much appreciated. Harish

  2. Asif Ansari
    January 26, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I completely agree. Of course, that option should not be there. On another note, talking about IP rights, it’s 2010. Brands that get it have given control over to their consumers without worrying about how big their logo is when someone spoofs or does their own version of an ad as a tribute. They know it just increases the footprint and reach of that ad. (If the ad sucks, you will naturally get a not very complimentary take). And yet there are still brands out there who are so insecure they want to copyright everything. T-Mobile is a strange one. On the one hand they do flash-mobs that become hugely popular, and on the other hand they want to do something completely absurd like copyright the use of the color Magenta. Adn yes, you are right, the army of IP lawyers must be the ones laughing all the way to the bank with a brand like this.

  3. Rima
    January 27, 2010 at 2:04 am

    I understand somebody stealing your work and destroying it in the name of modernization, bollywoodization etc could hurt.

    However must mention here Phil Mile Sur is such a dud…the person who has made it now sorry remixed it kailash Surendranath’s limited creativity clearly transpires from the video.

    The original was so much better…three cheers for Suresh Mullick. The kind of awe the original inspired was phenomenal..

    There will always be originals and then the copy cats around.

      January 27, 2010 at 3:09 am

      I agree. Remixes don’t always work. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. jayanth DN
    January 27, 2010 at 9:17 am


    you are correct . There should have been credits for Mr. Suresh. The irony is these things keep happening time and again. In fact the GUI revolution on the computers is a good example. All the technologies originated from the PARC lab of Xerox . But initially the fruit company copied it and started the revolution. Then it was the Windows company which again toJook the mantle and became the industry standard. The fact is Apple knew that lot of their technology was in Windows. But it settled the issue.( This was When

  5. jayanth DN
    January 27, 2010 at 9:26 am

    jobs returned). Microsoft was very opportunistic. When Steve jobs was confronted about they copying the technology from PARC. He use to say he was inspired by them . and quote Picasso saying

    ” Good artists copy and great artists steal.
    But in all his statements he says we shamelessly get inspired and copy from
    great cultures in all areas of life.
    But at least he credits Xerox for the GUI revolution.

    In fact in the start of the century when the automobile revolution started all the lawyers who had patented all the technologies where the guys who where making maximum money .
    And then came the ford revolution….the creator should always be credited for the start. our memories are short..

      February 1, 2010 at 7:45 am

      Yes ‘being inspired’ by others has always been there. I wonder why as technology evolves it doesn’t become harder, rather than easier. As my examples of FB and Twitter. If we don’t do it now, it will be too late to lock the door!! Thank you for reading and commenting. Appreciate your time! Harish

  6. January 27, 2010 at 11:09 am

    It’s an extremely relevant point. And a sad sign of the times.

    On the other hand, Suresh Mullick may probably consider it a blessing that his name is not associated with the pretentious piece of bollycrap that the new version is.

      January 28, 2010 at 1:17 pm

      Technology has made everything easy. Creating. And stealing. Sign of times. Thanks Mina for stopping by and commenting! Harish

  7. Pradeep Narasimha
    January 29, 2010 at 6:38 am

    I have always observed that the original peice of creative will always have a soul; whereas the copy is the echo of the soul, more often distorted in the name of creativity, contemporization and use of latest technology.

    The sad part of the title Phir Mile Sur clearly announces that it’s not original. If you recall the launch of Mile Sur, the media those days Press was going gungo on the Patriotic fervour and the soul of the creation; whereas today the media is clearing shouting of a bollywood remix with 69 stars since this track nor the visuals has the same soul.

      February 1, 2010 at 7:48 am

      I was reading the latest issue of Fortune where they interview the founder of WEF Davos, Klaus Schwab. One of the things he said is that one year they invited hollywood celebrities who were involved in key issues to talk. And the media focused on the celebrity and not the issue. Since then hollywood is not allowed at WEF. Similar thing with phir mile sur. The bollywood lot are into everything and thereby hog all the attention. The issue is lost. Thanks for your comment. Trust all is well. Harish

  8. February 10, 2010 at 2:20 am

    Blog looks really good mate, keep it up! The information is delivered solidly! 🙂

  9. February 19, 2010 at 6:54 am

    i would not have said this had been outstanding a number years back nevertheless it is crazy the way age evolves the method by which you comprehend alternate creative concepts, many thanks with regard to the blog post it happens to be great to go through something intelligent once in a while in lieu of the common garbage mascarading as blogs and forums on the web, cheers

  10. April 10, 2013 at 11:49 am

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.

    I do think that you need to write more on this subject matter,
    it may not be a taboo matter but typically folks
    don’t speak about these subjects. To the next! Best wishes!!

  11. June 28, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    I rarely leave a response, but after reading a few
    of the responses on Whose copyright is it anyway?
    | Harish Vasudevan’s Collection. I actually do have 2 questions for you if you don’t mind.
    Could it be only me or does it look like some of these responses come across like they are written by brain dead people?
    😛 And, if you are writing at other sites, I would like to keep up with you.
    Would you make a list of every one of all your social community sites like your linkedin
    profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  1. January 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: