[A2k] Martyrs' Day Public Talk on "Gandhi, Freedom, and the Dilemmas of Copyright"

Pranesh Prakash pranesh at cis-india.org
Thu Jan 26 15:32:18 PST 2012

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Dear all,
To commemorate Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary, the Centre for
Internet and Society cordially invites you to a talk by

*Prof. Shyamkrishna Balganesh* of the University of Pennsylvania on

*Gandhi, Freedom, and the Dilemmas of Copyright*.

When the copyright on Rabindranath Tagore's writings were to expire,
his estate sought (and got) an extension in copyright term.  But when
the copyright on Mahatma Gandhi's writings were to expire, the
trustees did not seek such an extension, in deference to Gandhi's
views on copyright.

On the cover of the first English edition of the Hind Swaraj, it
states: "No Rights Reserved".  Was Gandhi a Wikipedian at heart, and a
prophet who foresaw the 'copyright wars' and had his own visions of
how far free culture and free knowledge activism could and could not go?

To find answers to these questions and more, please come to

the Centre for Internet and Society, 2-C Cross, Domlur Stage II,
Bangalore – 560071

on *January 30, 2011* at *18:00*

RSVP to <pranesh at cis-india.org>, and spread the word about this public

## Description

Central to modern discussions of copyright law is the conflict between
copyright’s role as a market-based mechanism of cultural production
and its detrimental effects on access to knowledge, free speech, and
cultural creativity. So divisive is this debate in the world of
copyright law today that some have characterized it as the ongoing
“copyright wars”. In January 2009, when copyright in all of Gandhi’s
works expired, to the absolute surprise of many, the Navjivan Trust,
to whom Gandhi had transferred the copyright in his works, chose not
to seek a statutory extension of copyright.

The Trust’s firm decision rested in large part on Gandhi’s unease with
copyright law, and his reluctant acceptance of its benefits. Gandhi’s
opinions on copyright law reveal a rather concerted attempt to grapple
with the innumerable public and private trade-offs that are central to
the institution, which are today seen as the very basis of the
copyright wars. Much like Gandhi’s views on other issues, they reveal
a pragmatism, nuance, and creative engagement, which likely emanate
from Gandhi’s training as a lawyer. Instead of simplistically
rejecting the institution in its entirety, Gandhi saw copyright law
for what it is—an important social compromise—and sought to engage
with it in a way that tracked his beliefs on other issues.

This talk will argue that the nuances of Gandhi’s engagement with
copyright law hold important lessons for thinking about copyright law
in society, and for managing its complex trade-offs. Gandhi’s thinking
on the topic anticipated many of the modern dilemmas about the
structure and function of copyright law--such as the role of
exclusivity, the importance of control and integrity, and the costs
and benefits of licensing revenues. And while Gandhi may not have had
a clear (or unambiguously correct) solution to any of them, he almost
certainly asked the right questions.

## About the Speaker

Shyam Balganesh’s scholarship focuses on understanding how
intellectual property and innovation policy can benefit from the use
of ideas, concepts and structures from different areas of the common
law. His most recent work tries to understand copyright law’s
pre-requisite of “copying” for liability, as a mechanism of
pluralistic decision-making that allows it to incorporate both
utilitarian and rightsbased considerations into its functioning.

Balganesh received his J.D. from the Yale Law School, where he was an
Articles and Essays Editor of the Yale Law Journal and a Student
Fellow at the Information Society Project (ISP). Prior to that he
spent two years as a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford, and
received a B.C.L. and an M.Phil in Law from Oxford University.

His recent publications include: ‘“Hot News’: The Enduring Myth of
Property in News,” 111 Columbia Law Review 419 (2011); “The Pragmatic
Incrementalism of Common Law Intellectual Property,” 63 Vanderbilt Law
Review 1543 (2010); and “Foreseeability and Copyright Incentives,” 122
Harvard Law Review 1569 (2009), among others. He is also currently
editing a collection of scholarly essays on the topic of intellectual
property and the common law, scheduled to be published by the
Cambridge University Press in 2012.

- -- 
Pranesh Prakash
Programme Manager
Centre for Internet and Society
W: http://cis-india.org | T: +91 80 40926283
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