Copyright or Copyleft?

1289126183000 » Tagged as: copyleft , plagarism

Yesterday's Lakbima newspaper carries an article saying copyleft is a figment of daya dissanayake's imagination. You can bet your hard disk that this guy laboriously wrote that article with pen and paper and then went with it to the post office to send it off to the editor. Because if he had access to a computer or phone connected to the internet, he would have first typed in 'copyleft' into the Google search box and clicked through to the first result - the Wikipedia page on copyleft and discovered that it's not a figment of anyone's imagination, least of all my father daya dissanayake's. Incidentally Wikipedia itself happens to be a copyleft work.

Recently a bunch of guys launched what they call the first Sri Lankan e-book library. All the best to them, but I have no connection with it what so ever. Neither does daya dissanayake, but he did make the keynote speech at their launch and he spoke on the subject of copyright or rather how the current copyright laws only seem to benefit publishers at the expense of authors and readers. This speech was picked up by several newspapers, and carried last week. Now one Bobby Boteju, who calls himself a writer but just happens to be a translator has chosen to shoot that down and to protect the publishers' interests.

Sadly for him, he forgot to spend 30 seconds on research and made a fool of himself. Hang on a second, this guy is (or was) a Director of the Sri Lanka Performing Rights Society. Worse still, he has even written a book on copyrights! well no wonder copyright, and copyright protection is in such a sad state in this country. Kind of proves the point daya dissanayake was trying to make.

Maybe I am being unfair, maybe Boteju can't afford a computer because he's spent all his money paying royalties and license fees to the publishers of the works that he translated. Being a staunch supporter of the copyright regime, that's what he would do even though it's said that many translators do not. His decision not to use a pirate copy of MS Office running on a pirate copy of MS Windows should be applauded. That's what many people in this country actually do. In fact Sri Lanka ranks at number 6 when it comes to software piracy. Yep, a healthy respect for copyright indeed.

I am sure Boteju would not have used an Indian film star on the cover of any of his books like most writers seems to. Sometimes book covers are scenes straight out of Bollywood movies, they don't even bother to Photoshop (wonder how many legal copies of Photoshop exists in this country, there are millions of pirate copies). Makes you wonder if the book is based on the Bollywood movie too. Don't be surprised if it is.

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