Saturday, 13 November 2010

Copy? Right!!

Zandu Balm is no more in pain, its only gain! Munni’s Badnam is Zandu’s nam! Though, all it started with legal tangle!
For months, "Munni badnaam hui", the item song from the hit movie Dabangg, has topped the charts & Zandu Balm, a pain reliever product by Emami has been used in the song! Emami was outraged and decided to file a suit against the producers of the film for Copyright Infringement! It actually dragged producer Arbaz Khan to court.
The notice served by the Emami’s counsel reads ‘In the song, the name Zandu balm has been used continuously at various places. By using the brand name in the song, you have not only violated the copyright of my clients, but you have also made an attempt to defame the reputation of my clients and the product manufactured by them.’ Later, they agreed on ‘out of the court’ settlement!
And what a turn of event, now ‘Munni’ aka Malaika Arora Khan would be the brand ambassador for Zandu Balm! And not only that, Emami has posted its best-ever second quarter results (profit of Rs.53 crore). And, Zandu Balm sales soared by nearly 35 per cent in the last three months!
Actually, it’s surprising but true, whenever something (especially songs) has been copied, that has worked as wonders! Have a glance on some of the super hit songs from various Hindi movies:-
Haan Yeh Pyaar Hai (Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You), Dil Le Le Lena (Macarena), Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye (Five Hundred Miles), Tirchi Topiwaale (The Rhythm Is Gonna Get You), Aate Jaate (I Just Called To Say I Love You), Chura Liya Hai Tumne (If It's Tuesday This Must Be Belgium), Dole Dole Dil & Nazrein Mili (Come September), O Mere Sapnon Ka (Bachelor Boy), Mehbooba Mehbooba (Say You Love Me), Tumse Milke (When I Need You, ‘Dil Mera Churaya Kyon’ (Last Christmas I gave you my heart)
All are copied from various English songs and music. In a more civilized term it is called ‘inspired’! And all of these actually have gone down well with the Indian audience. Some believe, copying is not that bad as this gives an opportunity to a section of Indian audience to have a brush with western music, which is not possible in any other means!
Let see what the Berne Convention (1886) says about copyright. In the Article 2 of the said convention, it is told,
"The expression 'literary and artistic works' shall include every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain, whatever may be the mode or form of its expression, such as books, pamphlets and other writings; lectures, addresses, sermons and other works of the same nature; dramatic or dramatico-musical works; choreographic works and entertainments in dumb show; musical compositions with or without words; cinematographic works to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to
cinematography; works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving and lithography;
photographic works, to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to photography; works of applied art; illustrations, maps, plans, sketches and three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture or science. [.....] Translations, adaptations, arrangements of music and other alterations of a literary or artistic work shall be protected as original works without prejudice to the copyright in the original work. [.....] Collections of literary or artistic works such as encyclopaedias and anthologies which, by reason of the selection and arrangement of their contents, constitute intellectual creations shall be protected as such, without prejudice to the copyright in each of the works forming part of such collections."
Originality is the only factor based on which copyright is given, merit is never an issue in this regard. Idea cannot be copyrighted, whereas expression is. If anybody, without the prior permission of copyright owners uses their original works for his own purpose, that amounts to copyright infringement.
Emami owns the copyright as well as trade mark of ‘Zandu Balm’. As it’s a well known brand and a good will is associated with that, no one can use that without permission. Thus, such a legal war took place between the Dabaang producers and Emami. Though, this negative publicity actually has given Zandu Balm an edge over its competitor.
Just two years back, the clash between Vidhu Vinod Chopra (the producer of the Three Idiots) and Chetan Bhagat (author of 5 Point Something on which Three Idiots is based) is well known. Bhagat alleged that though the contract was there, but that was not maintained in its true spirit.
Now, let’s see a larger perspective.
Malcolm Gladwell's ‘What the Dog Saw’ called "something borrowed", which deals with the violation of intellectual property rights and more directly with plagiarism. Though the word ‘plagiarism’ is not mentioned in the copyright laws!
‘Gladwell told about a very successful Broadway play, Frozen --without him being given any credit. He was naturally very disappointed, but after he saw the script of Frozen, he finds it "breathtaking". He says, "Instead of feeling that my words had been taken from me, I felt that they had become part of a grander cause... I considered the borrowing to be a compliment."
In some ways, Three Idiots too have played the role of a catalyst which boosted up the sale of Bhagat’s much acclaimed novel.
These are the exceptions, where violations have actually yielded positive results. But actually rampant copying has become a concern, so there should be stricter norm, not only in letter but also in spirit. In India there are several instances of violating copyrights. It has to be kept in mind, copyright is not only a legal provision but also a source of economic benefit!

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