The Grinch Who Stole Durga Puja

Well at least we now know how the Grinch looks like. (Picture of J K Rowling: Daily Mail, UK)

In a move as curmudgeonly and dark as anything Lord Voldemort could have dreamed up, Penguin India (henceforth to be referred to as “the publishing house-who-must-not-be-named”) has sued, for an obscene amount, a community Durga Pujo for creating a “Hogwarts”-themed pandal and for using images of Harry Potter without “permission” which I believe stands for “did not cross palms with silver”.

Copyright and intellectual property violation is no laughing matter and while it is undeniable that an overwhelming majority of the Bollywood fraternity (producers and music directors) deserve to be sued through their asses for IP violations , the fact that an army of corporate legal suits would go after a religious festival organizer whose use of the copyrighted images/concepts ( and that too for just five days) is not motivated by the desire to profit off them (they are not charging people money to enter the premises nor are they selling Potter merchandize nor are they claiming the characters as their own creations) is in equal measures mean-spirited and idiotic.

Of course the argument as mentioned in the BBC article is that the Pujo is a “large scale commercially sponsored” project—however anyone who has been in Kolkata during the Pujos knows that the way subscriptions (chanda) are collected has nothing to do with the theme of the pandal. In other words, it’s not as if the Pujo organizers leveraged the Harry Potter brand image to get more subscriptions. Why do I say that? Cause I do not ever remember the subscription collectors telling my dad—“Uncle give us 20 more rupees. This year we will have the Asura with an Andy Roberts face.”

The suits will also argue that more people will come to see the Pujo because of the Harry Potter theme and the ballonwallahs and the ice-cream wallahs and the roll-wallahs would make more profit as a result. The point is that people come not so much for Harry Potter but to marvel at the skill of the artisans who have created such a grand structure out of the most rudimentary elements—-it could just as well have been Helm’s Deep from the “Lord of the Rings” and the same number of people would have come. It is of course difficult to think that the powers-that-be would be able to see the tribute angle here—-and since the fools evidently cannot, there is no reason for us to even bother with Harry Potter.

In passing, it’s a pity that this is a Pujo else a case could be made to call the pandal “Hagoo”warts (Hagoo is Bengali for excreta), Hermoine as “Germ”ione and Ron as “Dhon” (Bengali for “jewels” or more specifically in this context: the male reproductive bling bling ) and pass it of as a parody which besides being a good legal argument against copyright violation would also show the makers of Harry Potter their place.

As I write, buoyed by this development, the legal teams of Michael Jackson, assorted West Indian pace bowlers, Mike Tyson,Greg Chappell (thanks Anirban) and Hema Malini are drafting legal letters asking for compensation for the unlicensed use of their likenesses in previous Pujos.

And so all those organizers rubbing their hands in glee that this did not happen to them, be warned. Your past sins shall soon catch up with you.

[Link in separate emails from Arnab Sinha, Bongpondit, Nikhil Deo and S.Pyne]

119 thoughts on “The Grinch Who Stole Durga Puja

  1. LOL.
    Proud to be the first commenter

  2. But seriously, is JKR out of her mind.
    You don’t know if Greg Chappel would sue some puja committee for using his face as Asura

  3. I’d say the court should read your post before ruling, but I’m no longer sure what can be interpreted as contempt of court.

    Look at it this way – truth can be a defence in a defamation case, but not when charged with contempt of court. So is the Rowling vs FD Pujo any more strange than that?


  4. I could not stop laughing when I first read the news.

    This is total arrogance from JKR. Would be interesting to see if the sales of Harry Potter Books are affected, I hope they do.

  5. I dont know what kind of lawyer advised these worthies to file such a lawsuit. Even if you considered the law, morals, ethics and what not was on the publisher’s side, this move is plumbing depths of idiocy. How much would the franchise lose if the remaining Potter movies are given an “A” certificate? Or simply if it were not released in WB? Or if the police look the other way on complaints about piracy? Better still, as the sec-soc media loves to put it, what if the Hindutva fascist fundamentalist BJP ruled states dont screen the movies?

    PS – Before someone starts a flame war for me calling BJP names, I will direct the readers to Sarchasm. 🙂

  6. While her lawyers are sniffing greenbacks, Rowling herself is busy getting a makeover.

  7. I think even the law is not on publisher’s side. I believe the pujo structure should fall under “fair use” doctrine in the US. I don’t know if a similar exception exists in the British or Indian copyright laws.

  8. Rowling has picked the wrong target this time. The people she should be suing are the unauthorized publishers of pirated versions of her books on the streets of most cities in India. She should be suing sellers and manufacturers of knockoff Harry Potter dolls in the stores.

    Instead whom does she go after? A temporary 5-day Durga Puja mandap.

    I think this copyright mania is going rather overboard, and people seem to be increasingly getting uselessly paranoid about stuff like this. This has to be stopped and stopped now.

    Something evil this way comes…

  9. Damn, there goes my plan for a Transformers-themed Pujo in Haatibagan this year. Thought I could get that in on the down & low…

  10. Firstly, a request: We need at least one more post from you on this.

    I was shocked by JKR’s lawsuit. However, after a brief mustard oil emotional moment, I figured JKR’s lawsuit was expected;

    1. She must have heard of these sand-niggers who are good at imitations, aka Dhavel Dave, the boy who looked like the boy who lived. (

    2. She would have seen tantra t-shirts talking about hariya putter or Hari Potter and immediately conjured up a indian baba ( Potter 2.jpg)

    3. She could have discovered a tropical form of diarrohea called hari potty (Wikipedia: Food with large amounts of food color can cause feces to be colored. An example is FDA Blue #5, which turns feces green when it reacts with bile in the intestine. The effect is considered harmless, and there have been no reports of ill effects). Whoa! There are ill effects!

    4. And finally, met someone unfortunate bong called, “HORI PODDAR”.

    Stung by this blatant misuse of Potter’s IP, she finally split her broom when she saw THE pandal. And $2 million is not even inclusive of the punitive damages.

    We Indians are shaking in our pants, Ms. Rowling. Please dont unleash the “dark arts” against us green/sandy Indians.

  11. But then, how could they ascertain that the pandal was intended to be ‘the’ hogwarts? The committe should consider renaming it (a la Ramgopal Varma ki… AArgh!) to something as simple as Hogwartss! ‘guess that should be enough to shaft the Penguin.

    We have had numerous instances ( where artists have been inspired… why is this any different? Someone please tell JKR where to shove the lawsuit…

  12. So there are no advertisements in these pandals? I don’t know about Kolkatta, but atleast in Bombay, advertising in Ganapati pandals is huge business. So the argument that it is not motivated by desire to make profit or that people would have come anyway even if the pandal were not inspired by Harry Potter doesn’t wash. If people were going to come anyway, then what stopped the pandal makers from using their own original concept? Or maybe just put up a simple shamiana? It is like a Bollywood producer arguing that even if he had made a movie based on his original sotry people would have come to watch anyway but he just decided to lift the story and scenes from a Hollywood hit to pay tribute to the Hollywood director.

    There could be any number of valid arguments against the Penguin case, but I don’t think the one presented in this post is one of those.

  13. oh btw, one of the organisers himself has contradicted this “people would have come anyway” argument by admitting that they chose Harry Potter because they thought its popularity will get more footfalls to their pandal.

  14. This is poor marketing savvy! If anything the grandeur of the themed pandal might actually increase the sale of books when a couple of impressed visitors go buy the book.

  15. @Mohan: The pujas are non-profit. Even if you consider the advertisements and sponsorships, they just about cover the cost of the event. The key thing is of course is that the visitors get to enter free, in the spirit of baroyaari pujo.

    @Arnab: Truly, this is absolutely stupid of JKR. I’d have taken this as a case of free publicity. If the pujo is an infringement of the copyright, then numerous fan-sites like etc, are also copyright violations – I don’t think they pay JKR anything.

    The only possible defence in favour of JKR is that she probably doesn’t know what this is about, and her agents have done this on her behalf.

    Either way, very depressing. Plain, money grabbing, moronic stupidity.

  16. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this news. What next? Sue some publisher for printing the HagooWash castle?

    @Mohan: There is a difference between the Ganesh pandals of Bombay & the Durga pandals of Calcutta. Every year the pandals in Calcutta create something artistic based on current affairs. You have to see the lighting to admire the creativity.

  17. @Sayon: But then, more people enter a pandal, better it is for advertisers and sponsors of that pandal, isn’t it? Just because there is no entry fee, it doesn’t mean there is no commercial interest involved.

    A google search for “advertising in pujo pandals” yielded this. anjan ghosh.htm
    “Hence commercial advertising and brand positioning during the festival becomes a major enterprise in itself, and pujas which are able to attract large crowds to their pandals become the beneficiaries of this publicity campaign. Prizes and awards or spectacular displays attract crowds and depending upon the drawing power of particular pujas, advertisers are willing to pay higher rates for having their advertisements and hoardings displayed at the puja, often even sponsor them.”

  18. GB (OrnOb is it?)
    I had come to the blog to post a comment drawing your attention to this news about JKR going nuts. You beat me to it!

    Was expecting more laughs though 🙂 Squeeze it harder next time

  19. i really dont think J.K. Rowling is to blame as much as pengiun also shows that people are ignorant about ‘theme’ in pandal making. it is a form of fan fiction.

    however, there is no denying that this would have been one of the most popular pandals. there is a lot of corporate sponsorship and advertisements in pandals nowadays. the organizers would benefit in fame if not commercially. living on reflected glory is a clear violation of copyright.

    intellectual property is quite lax in india so it seems a little absurd when the high hand of commercial interests swats a local puja committee. one wonders if this could have been approached better by all parties leading to a legitmate enhancement of the harry potter brand.

    all upset can check this out:

  20. I had a look at a few fan sites – most fans, not just Indians – are outraged by this case. Many fans have said that they have lost respect for JKR.

    Well, this is after they have bought all 7 books and seen most of the movies. So I guess Jo Grinch Rowling doesn’t need to worry that her sales will go down. After all, she’s made all the money she needed from them anyway.

  21. You have to defend anything Bengali, don’t you? In an unrelated note, lagata hai 20-20 Ka nasha utar gaya

  22. LOL on reading this:
    Penguin India (henceforth to be referred to as “the publishing house-who-must-not-be-named”)

    While the sentimentality in this post is appreciated, from a legal angle it is an open and shut case. It IS a breach of copyright. For bongs it amounts to sacrilege that a case be filed, to an Indian it is still weird, but what say to someone who is least concerned about our feelings. The law must be upheld and a fine is due on the pandal group.

    Just about every person opposing the lawsuit is opposing it because Rowling is rich. Imagine Rowling being a poor lady and you would have liked the pandal group to payup, right? Luckily, the law does not differentiate on your wealth quotient.

    To have all parties satisfied, here is a solution:

    The pandal sets a entry fee and all proceeds from this go to a charity. PLUS, they pay a small fine (say 1/10 of what they spent on the pandal). Even the fine goes to charity.

  23. @Gurdas

    People responsible for thinking of this and building this are not making more profit because of HarryPotter theme.

    In a country like ours, where majority will never be able to see huge amusements parks where such structures will be located, showing them during such a festive atmosphere for free IS charity.

    [General Comments]

    And why is the publisher involved? They are not selling bootlegged copies of the book. They just built a 3D advertisement screen. Penguin India should have negotiated with the authorities to set up a book shop in the vicinity AND donate all the profits to charity since they seem to have such noble intentions.

    This needs to go national in India and should serve as a huge negative advertisement for Penguin India. They should end up donating money to Puja 2008 out of their own pockets.

    We need to get Penguin India’s contact information and flood them with phone calls, emails and letters. They should choose their battles wisely.

  24. 3 golden words ….
    What Thr Fuck ????


    The court says it okay. Link is for the story and pic.
    It’s huge !

  26. A glimpse of the future perhaps. Nice.

    Mohan, I think the simple explanation suffices in this context. Pandals in Calcutta have always explored a wide variety of themes, particularly contemporary ones. I really doubt the organisers hatched up a plan to make millions. Penguin India seems hell bent on showcasing its corporate credentials. I hope they all wear grey ties to work. If they sued certain pandals for tackiness, I might empathise.

  27. The Puja organisers should ask Penguin India / Warner Brothers to graciously step in as the chief sponsors with a minor book signing spree for Ms Rowling with Ma Durga’s blessings. They may even pay the cost of the whole thing.

  28. Gurdas, poor people don’t get to sue anybody. So Rowling could not by definition have been poor.

  29. Arnab, yesterday when I read the news piece about JKR suing Calcutta pandal, I too thought it was silly and meanspirited. But again, copyright lawyers think not just about the profit motive, right? Folks using themes from the book, even for non-profit purposes, will water-down the marketability of their book-related merchandize. Think that’s the problem.

    Now, this issue has become a good example of ‘streisand effect’ .

    “Asura with Andy Roberts face” is a laugh-worthy line; I gave it a loud one too..

  30. @Anirban, Quite forgot about the Greg. Thanks for reminding.

    @JAP: Evidently they have as the case was kicked out by the Delhi high court.

    @Akhil: Arrogance is right.

    @Sriram: Well not a particularly good kind of a lawyer considering it got kicked out.

    @Bongopondit: Wait for the day I come out looking like Tom Cruise after abandoning my current unhealthy lifestyle.

    @Niket: Yes I dont know but your point is well made.

    @Shan: Yep they would be totally justified in going after the photocopy publishers which they do not go after cause they think its something they cannot win.

    @Tipu: Transformers at Hathibagan? Optimus Prime turning into a cycle rickshaw….yeah !!!

    @Surya: No chance of her dark arts being unleashed any more.

    @The Walker: No hagoowarts is what I want.

    @Mohan: First, since you have historically put an almost total trust in the verdict of Indian courts (as per your comments on previous posts), I am sure the Delhi High court judgement should be the final word. I think I answered your point in my post—this is not someone who has photocopied a Harry potter book: the merit lies in the construction of the artifact. Now JK Rowling cannot claim copyright over the concept of a castle or wizards: she can only claim copyright on the name Hogwarts, Harry Potter etc. Thats all. This is where the intent has to be considered—-the use of Harry Potter images is purely intended as a tribute (and this tribute is totally different from our Hindi movie directors ripping of DVDs and claiming them to be their “own” ideas) and none of the Pujo organizers can be shown to have taken any kind of financial benefit from it. I am sure if you would ever see the High court verdict, something like this would be the argument for throwing the case out (remember they didnt even hear it).

    @MP: Try telling that to JK Rowling.

    @Sayon: Of course they do not. Google for “Harry Potter cakes” and you will find people describing recipes for making Harry Potter cakes with no question of copyright. Now will people like Mohan argue that people who serve cakes with harry Potter faces at their parties get more “footfalls” and hence get more gifts and hence are making a profit from JK Rowling’s IP? Some of them are even selling this stuff…..

    @Asterix: Indeed.

    @ParthO: I think your squeezing of the way Bengalis speak is funny enough—no?

    @WTF: Benefit in name? Just like the kid who makes a Harry Potter hat or the Mom who bakes a Harry Potter cake for her daughter’s birthday?

    @RichAndFamous: Yes I have to. You forgot to mention that Sourav Ganguly is ugly.

    @Gurdas: “While the sentimentality in this post is appreciated, from a legal angle it is an open and shut case. It IS a breach of copyright.”

    Evidently not.

    @Nikhil: I presume the publishers hold not only publishing rights but the rights for the entire franchise.

    @Satori: It is a work of art. Awesome.

    @Nanda Kishore: I think the fools in suits have given the Pujo quite enough publicity—-BBC, NYTimes everyone is covering it. To everyone who is in Kolkata, get in line on Panchami. Else its going to be tough to get in.

    @Giri: On the contrary, I would think that this pandal would be a great boost for Harry Potter merchandise, if the JK Rowling estate should choose to market them in Calcutta.

  31. Thanks to Satori for the link. This is great news. Common sense has prevailed.

    Now someone put a placard called “Corporate Greed” on the demon that Durga Ma kills in this structure.

    What an apt story to go with the “victory of good (artists and community members) over evil (greed)” sentiment!

  32. Sourav Ganguly is ugly, everyone knows it. I just noticed Ranadeb Bose has mullet.

  33. The buffoon wants publicity.It is blackmail.Nothing else.One trusts that the judge sees it in the right way and imposes a personal penalty for frivolous litigation.

  34. what u said abt the chanda stuff no longer applies to kolkata pujos. now they mostly collect money by means of banners , advertisements etc. and indeed a hp theme would fetch them a lot of money – so the organisers should have sought permission.

  35. Hara hara bom bom October 12, 2007 — 4:38 pm

    @ abhirup ganguly
    “kolkata pujos now mostly collect money by means of banners , ads”

    So the pandals are paid by the sponsoring companies of those banners & ads

    “a hp theme would fetch them (pandal?) a lot of money”
    From whom? The sponsors of HP, i.e Penguin-India? They will be the ones benefiting.

    So how much should the pandal charge Penguin-India for condescending to show a HP theme?

  36. Utterly un-butterly Bogacious!!!! (Thats the bangali-fication of bogus by the bye.)

  37. Justice is done…the Delhi High Court has thrown P.I.’s suit out of the window.
    An early Shubho Bijoya everyone!!!

  38. the publishers and the merchandise people just lost a wonderful oppurtunity to sell books and related junk.
    they are ABSO IDIOTS of the crabbe-and-goyle variety.

    and the eager-beaver lawer who thought up this lawsuit is pure malfoy.

    jkr herself is coming across as stan shunpike, imperiused by her lawyers.

  39. I do not believe JKR is greedy. I do not believe that this lawsuit had been filed for money. I believe it is a case of a dumb legal adviser. I elaborated my point at

    BTW arnab, not only are our movie directors, most of us are equally guilty of copyright violations. Many of us are not even apologetic about that. (Xeroxing textbooks, ripping DVDs and many more)

  40. It does seem silly in the extreme. May be you could email her your blog post?

  41. I think Penguin India now belongs to our benevolent gurdian, ABP group!!

    Please correct me if I am wrong..

  42. greatbong, why are you so great ……… you have an “i am always right” attitude

  43. Hah. You so rock. JAP’s right, though. 😀

    BTW it’s interesting that no one stirs a finger when those Bangla serials play Enigma’s “Age of Loneliness” evening in and evening out. It’s the actual track, not even a cheap copy!

  44. Rowling darling, $50,000 for setting a pandal with a theme.
    Go to hell! U hv come to a wrong country babe!!

  45. the real culprits: Warner brothers (though j.k. listed a party to the suit most probably cause they have her power of attorney)

    the claim for liquidated damages was in order to comply with indian procedural laws.

    anyways. i agree with the spirit of the judgment but the reasoning is BIZARRE!

    we’ll allow it once, say the judges, but from now on everyone else will have to take permission.

    @ arnab da:

    there is a difference between a public spectacle like a puja pandal (without considering the sale of commercial advertisement based on footfall) and a private b’day party/arts and craft. chances are aunties who make good cakes are not going to be on the front pages of Cal times and Metro supplements (though they should).

    however, i still think that the pujo pandal will bring something so unique to harry potter taking it to a new form of expression. therefore, copyright laws should not apply to it.

  46. What’s so hard to understand about violation of IP rights? They have a legal standpoint whatever the stupid High Court says, and they are perfectly within their rights to sue. We are creating such a ruckus only because it is our Holy Durga Puja, how dare someone sue a puja committee?

    Now is it ill-advised of Penguin India to pick this battle? Of course it is, the publicity they get out of this far outweighs whatever loss they dream they are going to incur.

    So criticize the stupid lawyer who thought up this legal action, why blame JKR or PI? I hope you get the point I am trying to make here, and don’t go on how they are the one and the same. Instead of blasting them, pity them that they have got such poor legal advisers.

  47. This Durga Puja should be made into a bigger tourist attraction. I had no idea it was so awesome. Hogwards, Andy Roberts? Please make a Jayasuriya one for me no, considering his form is also sinking beneath the waves.

    All this time I thought that all Calcutta people did was blog, trade and drive on the off-side without any footwork.

  48. Hi,

    I agree that it seems absurd that JKR or Penguin India Should sue a Para Puja for copyright infringement . However, i would like to point out that the use of the the theme may not satisfy the “fair use policy”.

    Just because they are not charging the visitors an entry fee does not mean that there will be no economic advantage for the same. its will increase their visibility and this has a direct economic benifit for the organisers and the various stall owners.

    The Puja Pandal over the years has become a huge economic and financial activity and the budgets usually run into lakhs and even crores so the organisers cannot claim ignorance as an escuse. Also the use of the theme has a direct impact on the number of visitors.

    That said I feel that Penguin India horribly mishandled the situation. They have managed to turn an opportunity for cheap publicity into a publicity nightmare. They should have teamed up with the organisers and used it has a venue to promote the franchise. Their loss especially after the Judge threw out their case. Idiots!!

  49. @ hara hara bom bom
    I meant that the organisers would be able to get a lot of adverts/banners etc. because they are doing a HP theme. And even though it is a festival , it is not a charity . So , the organisers should have atleast asked for permission.(even in case of charity that is only proper).

  50. The politicians in West Bengal should have taken this opportunity to ban all HP books, movies and merchandise in the state. Since WB is a state with a large number of book readers, this move would have surely brought Penguin & JKR begging on their knees. Sadly, as always, the politicians are useless and can’t be expected to do anything worthwhile.

  51. i love the title of this post.

  52. Great post, loved it.

  53. gb: The court seems to have agreed in principle that this was a case of copyright violation by asking the organizers not to repeat this in future. They have only allowed the structure to stand because it is too late to change it. They have also refused to grant payment to the plaintiffs on the basis that “there cannot be a claim on public” and frankly, I find that reasoning a bit odd. Surely, it was a private committee that put up the pandal, not the “public”? Or maybe it is some legal technicality that a registered non-profit society (as opposed to a registered company) is not liable to damage claims as per Indian laws or some such thing.

    But anyway, in the words of one of the organizers himself, they chose this theme to “get more footfalls for our pandals” and as others have pointed in the comments the puja pandals do have advertisements (a fact your post had overlooked), so I don’t see how you can continue to assert that there cannot be any kind of financial benefit to the organizers from the use of Harry Potter theme. More footfalls -> more eyeballs for the ads -> better returns. Whether it is for puja committe or for their sponsors is immaterial.

    As for my almost total trust in the verdicts of courts, I don’t think I have ever claimed that our courts are infallible. I have only asked people not to blame the court for issuing a judgment based on the law just because you don’t like the result (banning a movie channel or asking Google to take out offending orkut page etc.). If you want to criticise a judgment atleast point out where it differs from your interpretation of the relevant law or even plain logic.

  54. random inclusions October 15, 2007 — 11:00 am

    :).. but those 2 million could have sponsored 1 more band for the visarjan, 1 more kishore/asha/hemanta/whatever voice at the whole-night ‘functions’. anyways…..

    rich in bangla would be possesor of ‘dhon’ as in riches (not gems g.b) but somehow i feel that you are more the blingbling-brain (refer this article) variety. whatsayyou?

  55. @Arnab:

    Loved your answer to DumbAndStupid…sorry, RichandFamous. 🙂

  56. Hello Mohan,

    I think in most of the points and counterpoints presented on this issue in this forum, most people unfamiliar with the concept of Durga Pujo have misconstrued it as a revenue generating exercise. If it were so your reasoning would be perfectly justified. However, Durga pujo has always been more than just a religious festival in Bengal. It is a way of life. It is medium through which people express their creativity and celebrate life.

    I agree that the pujo comiitees want to generate revenues and footfalls but the objective behind it is not to fill their coffers but to provide people with an experience that is unknown to them. Every Pujo hordes of people descend to Kolkata from the nearby districts to witness the gigantic pandals and the mind numbing lighting effects accompanying them.

    Under these circumstances the pujo committe’s appropriation of the image of Hogwarts cannot be morally considered to be a copyright infringement since their objective is not creation of personal wealth but to provide people with a spectacle.

    Secondly by the logic expounded by most pro copyright commentators here all the stand up comedians who MAKE A LIVING by imitating famous personalities are also in infringement of copyright laws.



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  58. @Sunil

    I think you guys are wondering into that ‘homage’ versus
    ‘blatant rip-off’ territory, which is not too dissimilar from intellectual “rights” versus human rights, which is enough to make anyone dizzy. Magnificent structure though, I wouldn’t mind having one of those.

  59. Hara hara bom bom October 15, 2007 — 1:24 pm

    There are a number of important issues that arise from this interesting episode :

    (1) If we are to be recognised as a responsible nation, we need to start acting as such. Appreciation of international sensitivities is an imperative requirement.

    From JK Rowling’s position, she is correct. There is only so much lassitude that can be permitted before artistic license broaches into commercial abuse.

    We should have an overall Puja advisory Board that can liaise with both parties (especially pandals) on such issues, and if required, apply for permission beforehand.

    Foreign parties are rightly wary of India, where “COPYRIGHT” is defined as “RIGHT TO COPY”.

    (2) A general Hindu body (Vishwa Hindu Parishad ?) should try patenting Hindu symbols. Hindu organisations can utilise this to prevent the liberal misuse of Hindu icons.

    When the Sydney ‘gay pride parade’ then holds a ‘Hindu deva / devi theme, or a club in London has a naked Shiva dancing, or a nightclub has an icon of a tipsy Ganesha cavorting with bar hostesses, we will have a commercial twang in our argument of denigration.

    A rider can be added that permission will not be required for ‘genuine and proper use of symbols for religious devotion in accordance with practised and accepted Hindu traditions”.

    (3) The episode also illustrates the sheer contempt with which India is internationally perceived. Something as trivial as this would be completely ignored if this was China. Even Mattel, which had a genuine case for concern when it rejected toy batches from China containing excessive lead levels, had to publicly grovel and give the world the ‘perception’ that China was not at fault.

    The positions in (1) & (3) appear contradictory, but the precise truth of the matter lies somewhere in between.

  60. @ Hara hara bom bom, Satori


    “There is only so much lassitude that can be permitted before artistic license broaches into commercial abuse.”

    While I agree that most Indians look at copy right as the right to copy, I cannnot understand how making a pandal in the shape of Hogwarts can be construed as “commercial abuse”. This act does not lead to loss of revenues for the copyright holder, neither does this lead to the creation of personal wealth for the organisers.

    On your second point, I dont think patenting Hindu symbols or any religious symbol is in the right spirit. All steps should however be taken to ensure that they are not abused and accorded respect.



  61. @Hara Hara Bom Bom:

    “A general Hindu body (Vishwa Hindu Parishad?) should try patenting Hindu symbols.”

    Just wanted you to know that I am the representative of all Hindus, and that I have the patent rights. I mean you will agree, I have as much right to call myself representative of Hindus as the VHP.

    Since we are discussing it, you owe me for use of the Term “Hara Hara Bom Bom” as well. My moral / religious / legal representative will shortly send you a notice to that effect.

    Notices are also going to the VHP / RSS/ BJP for blatant use of my religious symbols for personal, political, and financial gain. For example, it has come to my notice that a lot of money was collected for building temples at disputed structures in Central India. That money is currently unaccounted for. I want my cut.

    Other than the normal fees owed to me, I will also be suing you for damages related to your use of extreme and excessive sanctimony. Consider those to be punitive damages.

  62. I think the lawyers kinda gave up rather tamely to the court case. I have a feeling that they were just trying to rake up a controversy and make that pandal popular – hence beef up sales of Harry Potter merchandise in West Bengal….. I’m sure this has provided the Potter series with a lot of publicity in the state …

  63. Hara hara bom bom October 15, 2007 — 4:53 pm

    Shan : “Other than the normal fees owed to me, I will also be suing you for damages … . Consider those to be punitive damages”.

    You’ll have to find me first to sue me 🙂

    My idea is not as outlandish as it sounds. In the ludicrous world of commerce, attempts have been made to systematically patent activities like Yoga.

    It will be difficult to patent religion per se. However, we can explore whether icons contained therein can be accorded some safeguards from crass commercial utilization. So agarbatti producers will be allowed to use a picture of a deva, as incense sticks are used in religion. However, someone selling condoms can be prevented from doing so.

    This will have to done as an inter-faith venture, with input & agreement by other faiths as well, so that all icons with significant religious association (Om, Cross & Crescent, Cross, Swastika etc) are offered some basic safeguards. Similarly for the Gita, Bible, Koran etc. This will foster inter-communal harmony as well.

    You also highlight a serious problem faced by Hindus, we do not have a central body that can represent us with solid authority. I’d still say that of all the disparate organisations available, the VHP appears to have the largest international coverage.

  64. @Hara Hara Bom Bom:

    “So agarbatti producers will be allowed to use a picture of a deva, as incense sticks are used in religion. However, someone selling condoms can be prevented from doing so.”

    Hmm…I foresee all sorts of problems. Incense and condoms – I can see the difference, though some would consider sex as a spiritual experience. What about oil? Can be used to light diyas or be used as …err…lubrication or erotic massage. Of course we could always let the VHP decide. They know all, just like the Sharia Imams.

    “This will have to done as an inter-faith venture, with input & agreement by other faiths as well, so that all icons with significant religious association (Om, Cross & Crescent, Cross, Swastika etc)…”

    I’m afraid Hitler beat you to the Swastika patent. And of all the pipe dreams you have had so far (and they are legion), this one takes the cake. If all faiths were able to work together and agree on anything, patents on religious symbols would be the least of our problems! 🙂

    “I’d still say that of all the disparate organisations available, the VHP appears to have the largest international coverage.”

    Correction: The VHP seems to have the highest International notoriety. Whether the majority of Hindus care about them at all is significantly in doubt – of course not in your mind, but in the reality based world that the rest of us live in.

  65. @ hara hara bom bom:

    go look up the meanings of the terms ‘copyright’ and ‘patent’.

    you’re making a fool of yourself by flaunting your ignorance on a public forum.

  66. Hara hara bom bom October 15, 2007 — 8:03 pm

    “I can see the difference, though some would consider sex as a spiritual experience.”

    That is why the comment above says “in accordance with practised and accepted Hindu traditions”.

    “What about oil? Can be used to light diyas or be used as …err…lubrication or erotic massage.”

    Well, the prime use of “oil” is for lighting diyas, so it has a role to play in religious functions.

    I am surprised you are having visions of lubrication here. Most people will clearly view oil as used for cooking or lighting diyas.

    “Of course we could always let the VHP decide. They know all, just like the Sharia Imams”.

    Most decisions would be common-sense based, and not necessarily require VHP pontification. It is more to prevent abuse of the symbol rather than solicit VHP engagement. In the manner that Ayurveda products need protection.

    An organisation is required to raise the point, and then take steps to secure it. As we have no pan-Hindu organisation, the VHP is a start, and a good one.

    “I’m afraid Hitler beat you to the Swastika patent. ”
    That is the point, my dear. We have to prevent our cherished symbols from being abused in this manner.

    BTW, the Hittites beat Hitler to it by 4,000 years.

    “If all faiths were able to work together and agree on anything, patents on religious symbols would be the least of our problems”!

    We know they don’t work together. That’s why we have to find effective ways of building bridges before it’s too late and the fanatics choke the world in their green noose while the impotent pseudo-secular brigade trumpets on.

    Saying that, there are organisations that are trying to foster communal harmony, like Interfaith. Mutual respect of religious symbols is one of their tenets.

    Look, there are adequate resources in Xtianity & Islam to voice concern about their religious symbols. For Hinduism, there is the opposite, there are foaming ‘secular’ fronts baying for the denigration of Hindu symbols.

    Claiming ‘religious hurt’ works, for the majority, for Xtianity & Islam, it does not work for Hinduism. We have too much dis-unity. As such, other angles need to be considered.

    “The VHP seems to have the highest International notoriety”.

    That is your ‘opinion’, it is not fact. Either way it doesn’t have to be the VHP alone. Other organisations (Shankaracharyas, Sri Chinmoy) could add weight to it. We do not have a Sharia board, thus an organisation is required to provide the initial fillip.

    “in the reality based world that the rest of us live in”.
    Well, I know about the ‘reality based world’ as pseudo-seculars define it. It is staring on impotently as Indian kids have their throats slit in Kashmir. It is walking away very quickly when Hindus are burnt alive in Godhra. Yet it is jumping in with frenzied glee to attack (verbally …. what else?) Hindus whenever they try to assert their rights.

    Many subsribers of this ‘reality’ need to wake up to proper reality. What they have deluded themselves in believing is ‘reality’ is actually a tragic nightmare.

  67. Hara hara bom bom October 15, 2007 — 8:13 pm

    WTF “go look up the meanings of the terms ‘copyright’ and ‘patent’”.

    I am fully acquainted with the distinction. In a comment written in haste, errors in semantics have crept in.

    Thanks for pointing it out anyway. You are right, not only does one need to see the forest, one needs to see the trees as well. Sometimes up to the very brown leaves. 😉

    Anyway, it’s w-a-y-y-y past my bed-time. The secular brigade can stay awake for a long time, I can’t. Till later on.

    I did tell my wife after my comment that Shan & WTF would in an instant take time out of their very exciting lives to post a riposte. I was right. Touche !!

  68. Shaan –
    Chill out. Is obvious (2 me at least) Hara isnot suggesting ne proposed course of action. He is more like throwing idea in 2 promote discussion, like lateral thinking. Result he outlines may b very different from actual final conclusion, but aim of lat. think. isnot specified outcome, but generating discussion

    Hara –
    Intresting idea, like it, but will b very difficult to implement. Agree dat religus symbols need some protection from encroaching greedy commerce. Specially Hindsm

    Also, wrt another comment by u, 2k Muslims WERE kild in Gujrat. Like it or not

    WTF –
    RU trying 2 impres Shaan or sometin? Evry time you rejoinder to Shaan. RU married to him?

    Ifnot u shud get married 2 him. U both share same wavelenth
    Only kidding 🙂 🙂 🙂

  69. Sunil,

    I understand the traditional aspect of Puja in Bengal. But like many other things in liberalized India, I wouldn’t be surprised if commercialisation has crept into this too. Once you start selling ads for all sorts of things, it is no longer just a community service. It is an ad-based business. Very fact that the organiser used a pure business term like “footfalls”, instead of using say, “bhaktajan” or something, seems to indicate the nature of the enterprise (i.e. he isn’t even trying to pretend that it is not a business). There is no point claiming that the ads only cover the costs etc because there is no way of verifying that. I mean, even if you look at the accounts of the puja committee, it may just be that they are selling the ad spots deliberately at a lower rate on paper to show that they are not making any profit, but could be making more in off-the-record transactions. Point is, we don’t have to bother with those things. They have a customer base (visitors to their pandals), they have a revenue source and they are in business. So there is nothing wrong in expecting that they play by the rules – like respecting others’ copyrights for example.

  70. random inclusions October 16, 2007 — 6:37 am

    Lets have Symonmds faced Asura.Sreesanth would give 25% of his remaining match fee to bail out the Pandal decorators any day.

    @ Hara

    There has been several instances of Hindu religious symbols and images being misused, so why this Sydney-Pride-insider-news-thingy? Are you trying to come ‘out’? Or are you being homophobic? In the guise of attack to Hindu sensebilities?

    @Yahoooo…(how many are there?)
    Yo Boy! Stop trying so hard. Whose next? Khujur and Hujur? By your suggestion, they should marry too, right? May I suggest a spelling book and a Rapidex English Speaking Course? Am sure Indiatimes will be able to help you if you are not in India.

  71. Hello Mohan,

    Your hypothesis is based on the following assumptions:

    1. There is commercialisation everywhere in liberalized India and so the Durga Pujo has also been commercialised.

    2. The organisers are corrupt and engage in malpractices to make money on the side by exploiting the commercial aspects of the Pujo.

    3. The organisers use a word from business lexicon and so they must be running a business.

    4. Pandal visitors are customers for the organisers.

    5. These pandal visitors are a source of profit for the organisers and thus the organisers are in a business.

    On point 1: I agree.

    On Point 2: This is a sweeping generalisation which has no basis whatsoever except in the cynicism that you have (sometimes justifiably so) about the way things work in our country. I cannot therefore agree to it.

    On Point 3: This again is a mendacious argument. We dont know which language the organiser was interviewed in and if this was a translation of what he said in Bengali. Also knowing how english is spoken in India, I wont be surprised if he meant “bhaktagan” by Footfalls. Even if the above is untrue the premise that usage of a business word implies that one is in business is fallacious.

    On Point 4: Pandal Visitors are not customers for the organisers but their guests, since customers pay while visitors (guests) dont.

    On Point 5: Pandal Visitors do not create wealth for the organisers. Pujo’s are not organised with a profit motive but driven by a spirit of one upmanship between various paras (bengali for Mohalla/locality). Sometimes this One upmanship leads organisers to spend beyond their means forcing them to plug the gaps by commiting personal resources.



  72. Sunil,

    point 2: Apparently a full-time politician is part of this particular Puja committee. I think the kind of account fudging I referred to is pretty mild for someone like him.

    point 3: Usage of the word doesn’t prove conclusively that it is a business, but I think it is fairly indicative. I can’t see how unfamiliarity with English or translation can introduce a specific term like that.

    point 4&5: I realised my mistake soon after hitting submit. Change it to: “They have a user base (visitors to their pandals), they have a way of monetizing that user base and they are in business.”

  73. Hello Mohan,

    on point 2: Is the alleged presence of a politician in a Pujo Committee sufficient evidence of corruption in the entire Pujo Process, or are only those committees with politicians in them corrupt. Both the arguments are based on blanket generalisations hence difficult for me to accept.

    on point 3: I dont think usage of the word is indicative of anything. Nowadays with the retail boom in full form the word “footfall” is bandied about with gay abandon everywhere. This is a bit like suggesting that everytime the communists use the word “deal” , it is fairly indicative of them having become business friendly.

    on points 4&5: A business is defines thus “In economics, a business is a legally-recognized organizational entity existing within an economically free country designed to sell goods and/or services to consumers, usually in an effort to generate profit”. The pujo committee is not selling Goods and or Services and neither are its activities motivated by the desire to generate profit. Hence such a venture does not qualify as a business.

    Lastly I can completely understand your views assuming you have not witnessed the Pujo as closely as many others on this forum have. Your analysis though thorough is devoid of the knowledge that only close proximity to the event can impart, a bit like “The Economist”/FT/NYT’s reporting on India.



  74. Hara hara bom bom October 16, 2007 — 9:42 am

    @ yahoo “2k Muslims WERE kild in Gujrat. Like it or not”

    I don’t think so. This was a figure floated conveniently by the British consulate in India, under the guise of an ‘unintended leak’. I had written to the British Embassy asking for the basis of these figs, but no response arrived.

    Of course, it was gleefully lapped up by the various anti-Indian sections (pseudo-seculars, Hindu-haters, terrorists, pro-terrorists, sections of media). Just like a bunch of zombies feeding off each other.

    The Gujarat government provided a basis for its figures of 950 dead (250 of which are Hindus), based on dead bodies and missing lists. This is not 100% accurate, as the odd grave has been cropping up. However, it cannot too far from the truth, as in spite of every single dogged effort, including visiting every site of conflict and numerous interview with victims, detractors have failed to prove otherwise.

    Please give me some proof (or persuasive evidence) to suggest 2,000 Muslims were killed, & I will amend my views.

    @ random inclusions
    “There has been several instances of Hindu religious symbols and images being misused, so why this Sydney-Pride-insider-news-thingy?”

    What are you suggesting, since there are 20 abuses heaped on us, if we highlight three of them in particular, then we must somehow have a psychosis against those three? What bizarre logic !!

    Also, it is not Sydney Pride, but Gay Pride, Sydney. Without being homophobic, I just don’t like my cherished objects of adoration being flaunted obscenely. If there was a Gay March with Hindu deities conferring due reverence, I’d be all for it. However, having a semi-naked woman with pointed breasts and a “Priscilla QOTD” sprout of feathers sticking out of her head, splashed in blue with Narayana painted on her, is not appropriate in my lexicon.

    “Are you trying to come ‘out’? Or are you being homophobic? In the guise of attack to Hindu sensebilities?”

    LOL. So I can either ‘come out’, or can I be ‘homophobic’, no middle ground is possible!!. Like a straight married man who accepts homosexuals but refuses to let any segment of society abuse his objects of reverence!! Would it make your day if I said I am both homosexual and homophobic? Then I would ‘claim’ it, just to add some colour in your life.

    BTW, you are the one diverting the point to this angle, so you may need some closet egress.

    @ Sunil & Mohan
    Good debate and points on both sides. I tend to agree with Sunil more. I think the truth lies somewhere between the poles posited by Sunil & Mohan.

    Puja is not a commercial venture, but a religious one which has acquired a commercial ‘motif’. It will be difficult to find a pandal which is completely devoid of a monetary incentive, yet commerce definitely does not feature high up in the list of priorities.

    Wrt to the term ‘footfall’, I’d be grateful if you could find out the exact word used. Was the Bengali term ‘padachinno’ used? If so, this would translate more as traveller rather than customer.

    As such, IMHO puja pandals should be allowed to express their artistic freedom (if they don’t ask for entrance fees). However, the process needs to be ‘managed’ better, like informing JK Rowling & gaining her permission first to pre-empt any fears of copyright breaches in a country notorious for it.

    This is why I said we need a standing Puja Board to advise & mediate on such issues. In an atmosphere of accelerating globalisation, we are no longer sheltered from international sensitivities.

  75. Sunil,

    point 2: There may well be some puja committees who are not motivated by profit, but my point is that it is not something we can verify.

    point 3: let’s agree to disagree.

    4&5: Ofcourse they sell a service. They provide entertainment to the visitors and based on those visitors they sell ad spots to their sponsors. Sort of like Yahoo and Google, to name but two ad-based free-subscription services.

    I accept that I have never been to Kolkatta and have never witnessed the Puja, but then that also means that I don’t have any fond memories of this tradition from a time when it was largely a non-profit community exercise, so probably it is easier for me to accept that it is now a business than it is for those who have such memories.

  76. Hello Mohan

    on point 2: I dont think it wise to base your argument (Pujo is a business) on something that you accept as unverifiable (profit motive of Pujo Organisers)

    on point 4&5: A substantial part of the finances are provided by the people of the “para” as “chanda”. Are you trying to imply that these people contribute capital and the revenues generated from the “footfalls” are their returns for assuming the risk of organising the Pujo – like Google and Yahoo? The revenues from the advertisers are used to meet the costs, not to create wealth (like Google, Yahoo etc). The Pujo is above all a religious exercise not an endeavour in entertainment. This notion as implied by you will open up another debate on the purpose of religion. However I implore you to refrain from denigrating the significance of religious festivals by classifying them as “entertainment” and ascribing ulterior motives to those who organise them, without presenting a shred of evidence.

    On this:
    “I accept that I have never been to Kolkatta and have never witnessed the Puja, but then that also means that I don’t have any fond memories of this tradition from a time when it was largely a non-profit community exercise, so probably it is easier for me to accept that it is now a business than it is for those who have such memories.”

    1. You are assuming that I have fond memories of the Pujos of yesteryears.

    2. You are assuming that it is no longer a non profit community exercise.

    3. You are assuming that I am blinded by my love for the Pujo and fail to see it for what you think it is.

    On point 1: You are right.

    On point 2: I dont think you can assume this considering that you have never been associated with one and have not provided any evidence so far to substantiate your hypothesis.

    On point 3: Considering that you dont know me, it seems to be a very presumptuous and incorrect judgement on my character (or the lack of it). Totally uncalled for.



  77. Hara hara bom bom October 16, 2007 — 10:57 am

    Hi Mohan,

    Apologies for intervening in your correspondence with Sunil, but I’ve enjoyed your points, so I’m taking the liberty.

    Please note that the commercial angle in Durga pujas is less pronounced (& visible) than Ganesh pujas in Mumbai. Also, while accepting commercialization has increased in the former, it is still not ‘big’ business.

    Many of us visit Kolkata regularly, so we are not relying upon nostalgia alone.

    If you have not visited Kolkata during the Pujas, you are missing out on something wonderful, my friend. You should come. The jostling crowds will make you claustrophobic, there are pick pockets everywhere, & traffic grinds to a miserable and complete halt. The heavy smell will overpower you as you blink in the blinding lights while you lose the power to hear amidst the roars.

    But in the midst of all, there is an incomparable beauty that will melt your heart and moisten your eyes.

    The Pratimas are varied and flawless, and the pandals are a wonder of the world. Did you know that many of the ‘constructions’ in the movie ‘Gladiator’ were actually pandals, created by pandal makers from Kolkata.

    My heartiest Puja greetings to you, with a fervent request to visit Kolkata during a Durga Puja.

  78. @ hara hara bom bom:

    dude you dont know the first thing about intellectual property law.

    all you can say to me for that is that im married to shaan?

    and looking at the length of your replies to all posts on this website .. the one with a lot of time on my hands.

    symbols are covered by trademark by the way.

  79. Sunil: “Puja is a business” argument is based on two verifiable facts – that there is a huge user base for pandals and they can and do monetize that user base by selling ads. In fact, it is the counter-argument that is based solely on unverifiable assertions like the organizers are not driven by profit motive or that the ad revenues only cover costs etc.

    No, I didn’t imply anything on the part of chanda givers. But whether chandas form a substantial part of the finance or the ad revenues, we don’t know.

    As for religion vs entertainment, given that all the talk so far had been on creative artwork, spectacular lighting etc. I assumed that entertainment is a bigger factor for people to go to pandals than religion. If that is not the case, I stand corrected. But anyway, that is not central to the argument.

    As for being blinded by love for Puja, no, it was not meant as a judgment on your character or anything. It is a fact that most of us are more likely to accept flaws in something we are not emotionally attached to than in something we are attached to. So while accepting your point that my analysis is devoid of intimate knowledge of the festival, I just pointed out that there is also an advantage in being an outsider in judging such things.

  80. Hara hara bom bom October 16, 2007 — 12:29 pm

    @ WTF “all you can say to me for that is that im married to shaan”

    LOL, where did I say this? Yahooo said this.

    I sincerely hope you do not get married to Shan. For both your & Shan’s sake. 🙂

    I sincerely hope neither of you get married to anyone! For your partners’ sakes !!

    Read comments before making accusations. You are misquoting from a comment posted yesterday. No wonder you mangle my earlier comments to suit your taste.

    “looking at the length of your replies to all posts on this website”

    I type fast, & my replies are off the cuff. It doesn’t take a great deal of time for me. Take lessons in touch typing and you’ll be far more efficient.

    You must admit though, your & Shan’s near instant animated responses to my comment was amusing. And predictable. 🙂

    “dude you dont know the first thing about intellectual property law”

    I’m not an expert on intellectual property, & never claimed to be. All I said was I know the distinction between copyright and patents. Again planet WTF goes off on orbit to an alien land.

    Neither are you an expert, else you would’ve mentioned ‘trademarks’ in your earlier post. You’ve obviously been reading it up. That’s a good thing. Well done & keep it up. 🙂

    Now for facts. You have not mentioned Servicemarks. All three, copyrights, trademarks and servicemarks can be ‘theoretically’ utilised as follows –

    1. Copyrights to cover the rights over the form and manner of expressing an idea, so it will apply to the way Hindu paintings, sculptures and shlokas are utilised in context (e.g. misuse of Sanskrit shlokas during sex scenes in ‘Eyes wide open’).

    2. Trademarks to cover the actual ‘signs’ and ‘synbols’ rather than their ‘expression’.

    3. Servicemarks to cover religious ceremonies, so misportrayal of yajnas can be prevented.

    Of course all of these won’t be possible to acquire or enforce. But in an environment where yoga techniques and Assam tea (manufactured outside Assam) are being patented, it is an area worth some exploration.

    I do have a friend who (unike you) is an expert. He is a corporate lawyer, so when I get time I will contact him to find out more on this.

  81. Hello Mohan

    Point 1: “Pujo is a Business” – As I pointed out in the definition of “business” earlier, the idea central to the concept of busines is profit motive. The mere presence of a “user base” and “monetization” of that user base does not make an enterprise a business. (eg many social organisations have a “user base” of donors whom they “monetize” to further social causes).

    Point 2: “Organisers are not driven by profit motive, ad revenues are intended to cover costs” – Most Pujo committees are run like clubs and they regularily publish accounts. Some of these are also audited. It would be clear from a study of a sample of such accounts (I have seen many such documents) that the pujo is not driven by profit motive and a surplus (if any) is carried forward to the next year’s Pujo fund or expended on a social activity. Pujos are not a profit making activity is hence a verifiable fact. I am not saying there is no corruption, but to say profit making is the main purpose of a Pujo is a blatant generalisation that begs evidence.

    Point 3: “Emotional attachment and the inability to see flaws” – While I appreciate your objective assessment (like those of the Economist/FT/NYT), lack of experience in organising and witnessing a Pujo creates an informational disadvantage that cannot be overcome with the advantage of being an outsider when it comes to judging the Pujo process. My apologies for taking the outsider comment personally.



  82. @ Yahooo and HHBB

    Actually, BBC for the first year after the riots used to say something like “nearly 2000 people were killed in the riots most of whom were Muslims. Later however, after some protest letters, they decided to amend the number to 1000, which is what they write now, whenever anything about Gujrat comes.

    Most Indian media houses, however, continue to stick to the 2000 number.

    It is really interesting that nearly 15 to 25 percent (depending on which source you believe) of the people killed were Hindus.

    So a 10% population (followers of Islam) ends up causing 15% to 25% of the casualty of the so called majority (Hindu) “opposing side”, and still manages to convince the world the it was a “genocide” against Muslims.

    Can happen only in India.

  83. Hara hara bom bom October 16, 2007 — 1:39 pm

    Rishi @ “It is really interesting that nearly 15 to 25 percent (depending on which source you believe)”

    I think it varies between 15-25 based on whether the initial death count of the Hindu children, mwn and women burnt in Godhra are included.

    Most media sections completely fail to even mention this as a prelude to the revenge attacks.

    “Can happen only in India.”
    Not just in India, my friend. It is heart-breakingly tragic as well as ironically funny to see the same pattern of sycophancy towards terrorism being replicated elsewhere in the world.

    The cowardice the Hindus have been displaying over the last 50 years is being followed in Europe & UK as well. In 30 years time, London & Paris will be like Karachi.

    Manchester & Marseilles already are !! 😦

  84. HHBB wrote:
    In 30 years time, London & Paris will be like Karachi.

    Manchester & Marseilles already are !!

    Rishi’s response:
    True. France is the worst hit, followed by UK and Spain. I have spoken to people from all these countries and somehow feel that the ‘threat perception’ amongst their population is much higher than that of educated people from India.

  85. Sunil:

    definition of business: Point taken. My own personal preference is to assume a profit motive where there is money involved unless there is a strong reason not to make that assumption, but YMMV.

    point 2: You are obviously speaking with personal knowledge, so there is not much point in me arguing against it. But let me say just this: even if I am convinced by your sincere arguments, one can hardly blame Warner Bros for assuming that this was a profit making exercise and hence taking them to court.

    Anyway, well argued and thanks for keeping it civil. I really liked the way you bulletize points. Apologies if I have inadvertently hurt your feelings.

    hhbb: East is one part of India I haven’t been to and I hope to correct it some time.

  86. @HHBB
    The idea that religious / cultural symbols should be patented to prevent their “misuse” is an idea that is born out of intolerance – intolerance because you fail to note that just as you have right to practice a religion people have right to hate a particular religion and its practices/hate all religions / hate particular cultures and their practices and can express such hatred by criticizing what they hate. Such criticism can be made in any form desired and may involve religious symbols . Also artists have the right to use a symbol in any way desired . Religious symbols are a common cultural heritage and everybody has a right to use them in any way desired.
    Since they are common heritage everybody even has the right to commercially use it. So what is actually needed is not a committee to discern between aggarbatis and condoms but getting used to being criticized.
    what do you define as “misuse” ? Hence, how do you conclude that Kubrick ‘misused’ slokas in his movie ? One must be tolerant towards artistic freedom . I think artists have a right to infuriate people – or how else can art be called powerful ?

  87. @ HHBB:

    i really believe that you type fast and off the cuff. it shows.

    your corporate lawyer friend should tell you the following.

    “1. Copyrights to cover the rights over the form and manner of expressing an idea, so

    it will apply to the way Hindu paintings, sculptures and shlokas are utilised in context (e.g. misuse of Sanskrit shlokas during sex scenes in ‘Eyes wide open’).”

    copyright expires after sixty years or death. there is no coverage for classics because they are in the public realm. know these things.

    “2. Trademarks to cover the actual ’signs’ and ’synbols’ rather than their ‘expression’.”

    the day hinduism can prove its a business/legal entity with goodwill. hmmm…

    3. Servicemarks to cover religious ceremonies, so misportrayal of yajnas can be prevented.

    servicemarks are a special type of trademark. and what priests are going to be certified? by whom? you’re talking through your hat.

    “Of course all of these won’t be possible to acquire or enforce.”

    you’re absolutely right. there is no chance that these rights can be acquired or enforced because its legally IMPOSSIBLE. that would mean admitting that religion is commercial (for tradmarks) and a form of fiction (copyright). do you not see the legal consequences of your fantastical notions of intellectual property rights?

    “But in an environment where yoga techniques and Assam tea (manufactured outside Assam) are being patented, it is an area worth some exploration.”

    in case you are unaware, india has won the basmati and tumeric cases in the united states. and will do so more easily as geographic indicators and traditional knowledge become more recognized and enforceable under TRIPs. and if you think that yoga has anything to do with hinduism i believe youre making the same mistake as those buffoons who banned yoga in churches in the UK.

    i like the way you assume that i dont know a thing about IP without knowing what i do for a living or what my qualifications are.

    @ abhirup ganguly:

    hara is going to kill you tomorrow when he turns up for work.

  88. WTF wrote:

    “and if you think that yoga has anything to do with hinduism i believe youre making the same mistake as those buffoons who banned yoga in churches in the UK”.

    Rishi response:

    Wow WTF….did you really say that?
    WTF cant be that….

    Yoga has everything to do with Hindu Dharma.
    Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Raja Yoga, form a major part of the Aastic schools of thought, and is very well established in almost ALL Hindu scriptural references.

    Have you ever even “googled” Patanjali’s Yoga-sutras?

    Yoga is one of the basic precepts of Hindu Dharma, but it is for the entire world (Hindu or non Hindu) to benefit from.

    What are you gonna say next…Bhagavat Gita has nothing to do with Hinduism? 🙂

  89. Hello Mohan,

    Many Thanks for engaging me in this wonderful conversation. I agree, it is unreasonable to expect JKR and company to understand what the Pujo is all about.

    In case you ever visit Kolkata during Pujo, do let me know and I will be honoured to host you.



  90. @ rishi khujur:

    i guess then the churches were right banning yoga from their premises.

  91. @WTF
    thats their loss and ignorance….

    As I said, Yoga is for the the entire Humanity to benefit from ….woulnt you agree?

  92. @ rishi:

    loss definitely. but not ignorance surely?

    as you say, yoga is essentially hindu and they seem to be aware of this. More aware than a lot of people who were protesting this. they are under no obligation to indulge the spiritual practices or whims of other religions. its a Church. not the Congress Party of India.

    surely you wouldn’t want Hindus to take communion at temples now if wine was proved to be scientifically beneficial to humans?

    yoga has grown beyond its spiritual roots to a scientifically validated form of beneficial exercise. hence the ‘patent’ attempts. so.. now internationally it is known like this and comparable to Pilates or Step Aerobics. just the way unarmed martial arts started in India but became something else in the Orient/Internationally. Are you going to call Shaolin Kung Fu a Hindu concept as it was developed by a Buddhist Temple in China which in turn is a form of Hinduism?

    i doubt neither you nor Christian Evangalists can appreciate the distinctions involved. One would require a mindset which can look beyond religion for that.

  93. random inclusions October 17, 2007 — 11:28 am

    @ Hara

    First, Pride is Pride, its the gay word, infact Sydney Pride March better explains.

    I was enjoying the conversation except that Sydney bit, which should not be interpreted as a anti-hindu stance. I am a Hindu more into ‘bhakti’ therefore quite a dud when it comes to the religious discussion that here some of the visitors seem to get into at the drop of the hat. Yet, Pride does move me as much as my Hindu identity, so kindly stick to the ’17’ abuses and the rest of the three.

    There are two positions adopted in the general population vis a vis the queers. One is denial, which can result from internal homophobia, in case of even much married men. And one of the easiest is to bad mouth, therefore my question.

    And abouit being homophpbic, well I am sure you have caught the drift.

    So much from my diverting your attention from your typo-battle.
    Just a reminder that the article was about Grinch Rowling to the idea of copyright or the right to copy. But you can see where it has gone to.

    Anyways, I dont have to tell you that I am out and Proud.

    Till Queerdom comes,


  94. @ WTF

    Do you really think wine has as much philosophical primacy in Christianity as Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Raja Yoga in Hinduism?

    Does Shaolin Kung Fu have the same position in Buddhist ideas or for that matter, Kalari in Hindu idea?

    The problem is that to you and those Christian evangelists, Yoga is all about the narrow spectrum of Kriya Yoga and Hatta Yoga and derivatives of it. Nothing wrong with that…to each our own.

    But as someone who is as well read as you are, atleast you should not help perpetuate that ignorance.

    Take a step back and evaluate your understanding of this whole thing called ‘Yoga’.

  95. “This year we will have the Asura with an Andy Roberts face” – not in good taste.

  96. @ rishi:

    i mean this genuinely and without any sarcasm.. i was ignorant of larger significance of ‘yoga’ in hinduism. and i am grateful to you for pointing that out to me.

    perhaps ‘yoga’ completely divorced from thinking/philosophy and as a pure exercise form needs a better term. the sense it used in internationally is a gross reduction.

    im very clear in my mind that when we talk about ‘patentable’ yoga we are talking about its science and not its philosophy (as philosophy is not patentable).

    so for whatever reasons, right or wrong, the word ‘yoga’ means two things today.

    still doesnt mean that hara hara bom bom’s grand plan to protect Hindu interests through the intellectual property regime isn’t legally complete rubbish.

    try criminal blasphemy laws or maybe ever tort (eg- the mcdonalds beef tallow class action suit). stand a better chance there.

    @ random inclusions:

    this isnt so off topic as usual. it’s still within the general theme of the main article – religious ceremonies and intellectual property.

  97. Hara hara bom bom October 17, 2007 — 3:02 pm

    @ WTF : “that would mean admitting religion is a form of fiction (copyright).”

    What? Copyrights are restricted to fiction? Are you remotely acquainted with the concept of ‘religious’ copyrights? Do you know that in the UK, the King James Version of the Bible is covered by a crown copyright?

    Obviously not. Hmmmm. I attach a few notes below on religious copyright for your benefit.

    Do you now appreciate why I questioned your self-proclaimed ‘expertise’ on IP rights ?

    @ WTF : “copyright expires after sixty years or death. there is no coverage for classics because they are in the public realm … servicemarks are a special type of trademark. and what priests are going to be certified”

    What is your point here? I clearly mentioned that ‘all’ of these ‘won’t’ be possible to acquire or enforce. That is to say ‘none’ of these ‘will’ be possible to acquire or enforce.

    We cannot embark upon any retrospective copyrighting of material in public domain. This is evident and axiomatic. Our best option against misuse here is ‘fair use’.

    Obviously you have mistaken my comment. But why? It’s in plain English.

    The purpose of my comment was not what you have mistaken yourself to believe above, but to see if :

    (i) are there any steps we can take within the existing legal framework, to pre-empt any abuse in expressing of Hindu SYMBOLS (not texts and other paraphernalia you refer to) in new / future media, areas where copyright laws are yet not fully determined ?

    To cite an example from ‘old’ media, it is like registering of domain names on the internet. If I am a Xtain who has registered the domain names,, etc, then I may spew rubbish on Islam there, at least for a long time. To pre-empt this, genuine Muslim organizations would have registered those names beforehand.

    (ii) can we use the exciting and emerging field “non-conventional trademarks” to our benefit?

    For e.g in the UK, only BP is permitted to use the green sign in petrol stations. Even sounds and colours and scents and textures are being trademarked. MGM has copyrighted the “lions roar” with its lion.

    There is an interesting page you can review

    (iii) Is it possible to utilize other (extra judicial) steps to enhance mutual reverence for sacred objects, like the inter-faith organizations.

    While throats continue to get slit at ground level, at the ivory tower level there is increasing rapproachment between Xtian and Islamic pontiffs. They are powerful enough to force through legislation preventing any association of flippancy with their religious symbols (further strengthening of existing ‘blasphemy’ laws).

    Hindus should ensure their presence in such ventures to ensure their considerations are taken on board as well.

    I was interested in gaining views on the above three issues.

    You cited that copyrights expire after 60 years (I thought it was 50 or 70, but that is academic). True, but there are cases where this has been circumvented. For e.g Commonwealth countries have “Letters Patent” which confer ‘perpetual’ copyright, even over published material.

    Letters patent is a legal instrument in form of an open letter issued by a government, granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or entity. While traditionally used for creating companies and offices, there is no reason why it cannot be used for conferring rights on published works.

    While not advocating “Letters Patent” as a solution in this case, I was interested in gauging views on similar solutions.

    This is not directly relevant on this case, since you suggested in your infinite wisdom that copyrights are restricted to fiction, I wish to point out that there is a healthy body of religious copyrights.

    Many editions of the Bible are under copyright due to their unique edition or translation. In UK, the King James Version of the Bible is covered by a crown copyright.
    Organisations can claim copyrights of ‘divinely dictated works’ if they can prove some human intervention in recording them.

    Since 1994, Church of Scientology has used various legal tactics to stop distribution of religious documents written by its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, even though claiming to be of divine origin.

    Under Urantia Foundation v. Maaherra, a channeler, who channelled divinely inspired messages, was legally considered the author of such work (implying they could claim copyright on it).

    In (authors of) A Course in Miracles vs New Christian Church of Full Endeavor the court ruled that “notwithstanding a spiritual book’s “celestial” or “divine” origins, the originality requirement necessary for a valid copyright was satisfied because the human beings who “compiled, selected, coordinated, and arranged” the book did so “‘in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship.'”

    @ WTF : “i like the way you assume that i dont know a thing about IP without knowing what i do for a living or what my qualifications are.”

    I did not say you did not ‘know a thing’, I said you were ‘no expert’. There is a marked distinction. Is there or isn’t there?

    I do not think you are a legal expert on IP for the following reasons :

    Legal experts are legendary in their capacity to go through large volumes of work. You panic if my facts and opinions exceed half a page. And then embark upon half page ad irrelevant ad hominens and false accusations.

    Legal experts have powerful powers of retention. You cannot even quote me correctly. Yesterday you accused me of a comment posted by some one else that very same day. … or is it Alzheimers ?

    Legal experts have the ability to extract core information from a morass of complicated facts. You cannot even extract obvious intentions outlined in plain English. I am having to spell them out for you (like in ‘purpose of my comment’ above)

    A legal expert on IP would know that copyrights are not restricted to fiction, there are such things as religious copyrights.

    If you are an expert on international copyrights, you must be a very sloppy one.

  98. Hara hara bom bom October 17, 2007 — 3:12 pm

    I have replied to you. I sometimes experience a computer problem during commenting, resulting in a delay. It should arrive.

    Can you please check to see if it held up & release accordingly? Puja greetings to you.

  99. Hara hara bom bom October 17, 2007 — 4:52 pm

    @ abhirup ganguly “an idea that is born out of intolerance – just as you have right to practice a religion people have right to hate a particular religion and its practices”

    Hmmm. I do not agree it is intolerance. Some basic safeguards need to be provided.

    In fact, in terms of religious ‘practice’, there is already extensive protection available in the UK & Europe, especially in relation to the workplace.

    The EU Equal Treatment Directive, requires member states to have laws to outlaw workplace discrimination on religious grounds.

    The Human Rights Act upholds free thought & religion, both ‘belief and manifestation (my point), though this is restricted to public bodies.

    The Race Relations Act does not cover all religions, only ethnic groups. So Sikhs & Jews fall within its ambit. Hindus do not.

    In fact, under the Equality Act, even ‘lack of belief’ is a similarly protected right.

    I read that from Oct 2007, the “Racial & Religious hatred” Act comes in to force, under which a person trying to stir up religious hatred can be imprisoned. However, I’ve also heard that it has too many loopholes. This is what prompted me to stir up a discussion of other options available.

  100. Hara hara bom bom October 17, 2007 — 5:14 pm

    @ Random Inclusion :

    “I was enjoying the conversation except that Sydney bit, which should not be interpreted as a anti-hindu stance.”

    Don’t be. I was not disparaging gay people. I was just shocked at the obscene way they were using Hindu symbols in the parade.

    I would have been as angry if the symbols were used by a troupe of gorgeous buxome playboy girls prancing on the streets of New York …. I would have lingered on for slightly longer though 🙂

    “I am a Hindu more into ‘bhakti’”
    Good for you, you Sindhu-sarit-ballabham.

    Which type of bhakti (batsalya, balya, sakhya) do you subscribe to?

    Do you like the Gaudiya Baishnava protha?

    “There are two positions adopted in the general population vis a vis the queers … denial & bad mouthing.

    What about the most widely practised one vis-a-vis ‘queers’, full acceptance as equals?

    “Anyways, I dont have to tell you that I am out and Proud”.

    Congratulations for proudly adhering to your self, willing to bear any unjustified and ugly hatred in spite of it. My favourite
    – actor = Rock Hudson
    – heavy metal band = Judas Priest …lead singer is gay (?)
    – singer = Dusty Springfield
    – composer = Tchaikovsky
    – poet = Byron (… ok, he was bi)
    – short story writer = Saki
    – dramatist = Oscar Wilde
    – painter (sometimes 2nd place) = Buenoroti (Michaelangelo)

    By Jiminy ! I think I may need to reconsider my orinetation!! 🙂

    Have you seen the movie “Victim”, with Dirk Bogarde? It shows the pain and terror that poor gay people in the past had to tolerate. If not, check out

    Thank God we have come a long way from then.

    Till Queerdom comes,

  101. @ hhbb:

    Short reply to you:

    ‘I clearly mentioned that ‘all’ of these ‘won’t’ be possible to acquire or enforce. That is to say ‘none’ of these ‘will’ be possible to acquire or enforce.’

    NONE. absolutely none of your great ideas are enforceable.

    this is because it is impossible to attribute authorship or ownership of ‘Hinduism’, its characters, written materials, symbols etc etc to any one body or person.

    for reasons, see my detailed reply below.

  102. @ hara hara bom bom (LONG REPLY and please nobody else waste your time reading this):

    i am more than aware that copyright does not cover mere fiction. i should have been more specific. my mistake.

    You cannot copyright real characters from history because they are not ‘ideas’.

    If you try to copyright the character Ram that means you created him. So trying to copyright him means admitting he’s fictional. Tomorrow if jesus or mohammed are granted as copyrighted characters, then their whole religions will flat on their faces. this is the context in which i made that statement. not with regard to written works like bibles or scriptures.

    copyright in written works has nothing to do with fiction or non-fiction. it is concerned with writing per se.

    Try and understand something. the point about IP is money, fame and recognition.
    i would suggest religion stands for exactly the opposite, non-materialism.

    Copyright, Trademarks and Patents are privileges granted by the State to reward artists, scientists and businessmen respectively.

    That means two things:

    1. a legal personality has to be granted a right.

    2. the right is essentially commercial in nature. that means it is given to make money as a reward for hard work put in for work (a book, an invention or brand) that society will benefit from it.

    The point you missed in your articulate tirade was the point i made about commercialization of religion. i really thought about citing Scientology as it the best example of a pure profit oriented religion. but thank you. you did my work for me.

    Now Churches are recognized legal personalities to the extent that the Pope is a subject of International Law. That means he is on par with the President of India as a sovereign. Moreover, this allows the Papacy to be a member of the UN and sit on international bodies including the IAEA.

    and please, im pretty liberal, but it offends me when someone uses Hinduism and Scientology in the same sense or implies that hindus have anything to learn from those money grabbing bastards. Finally, history proves that churches were set up to own property (hence the Reformation and the splits).

    basic point : You cannot compare unified religions with a definite Institution or Head at the core to a decentralized religion like hinduism which dates back to antiquity.


    Even though Temples and Idols are legal personalities in India capable of owning property but none of them are representatives of all Hindus.

    The simple reason why your arguments are legally untenable because there is something called locus standi when it comes to filing a case or claiming a legal right.

    No one in india, not even rishi khujur, has the locus standii to represent all hindus and thereby own rights on behalf of them.

    this is mandatory , fundamental and basic legal requirement.

    please distinguish this from an individual writing his own shlokas or re-interpreting ceremonies. if i edit or translate the bhagwad gita, i can have ownership over that ‘arrangement’. that doesnt mean i can stop other people from ever touching the Gita.

    second, ‘fair use’ only comes into play when some establishes ownership. like i said, there is no owner, therefore there cannot be any ownership. and the question of fair/unfair use does not arise.

    third, your proposals twist the very basic purpose for the existence of IP laws, i.e., as an incentive for our brightest minds to apply themselves, to protecting religious identity and sentiments. that is not the purpose for which intellectual property laws exist.

    fourth, hindu works are in the public domain. this means that no individual or body can ever claim exclusive copyright over them. on the other hand, no one can be stopped from using them in anyway they want. however, abuse of this right can result in criminal or tort proceedings.

    the remedies you seek lie in other areas of law. not IP! that is for something completely different.

    i hope you appreciate why this is a fatal flaw in your reasoning.

    other stuff:

    ‘For e.g in the UK, only BP is permitted to use the green sign in petrol stations. Even sounds and colours and scents and textures are being trademarked. MGM has copyrighted the “lions roar” with its lion.’

    is 1999 an exciting emerging area for you? that was when India amended its trademark act to allows colours of precise definition under its obligations under the WTO. scents are trademarked in africa where people cant read and counterfeiting is rampant. This is all really old stuff.


    This is your best pearl of wisdom to date.

    It’s a form of legislative action made by the Executive in countries possessing a strong Executive (like colonial England before Parliamentary supremacy or present day colonial America). The closest legal instrument in India would be an Ordinance.

    Dude. the Queen issued Letters Patents to East India Company to sit up stuff like the Chartered High Courts. I know you like history but this form of executive action fell into disuse a long time ago. and as far i know, the Constitution of India does not confer any such law making powers to the President.

    oh but wait.. you’re not advocating it. just suggesting it!

    your arguments are creative and may seem to make sense to a layman. but creativity in law takes place on the basis of a certain foundations and within well defined parameters.

    btw.. im not advocating any of my arguments. merely suggesting…

  103. I go to school in the US and one of our themes for homecoming was Harry Potter…moreover, over 60$ was charged for admission to the homecoming dance decorated with full Harry Potter regalia…How my school didn’t get sued?!?!?

  104. Hara hara bom bom October 18, 2007 — 3:29 pm

    I have broken this response by headings. Though long, it is easy to navigate

    @ WTF : “i (WTF) should have been more specific. my mistake.”

    Hmmm. Please appreciate that this is more than a simple mistake by you. It is you clearly insisting something to be true & its opposite to be false, only to fall back on ‘I should have been more specific’ when proof of the opposite is presented. You need to do be more careful.

    “hhbb : I clearly mentioned that … none of ‘these’ will be possible to acquire or enforce.’
    WTF : NONE. Absolutely none of your great ideas are enforceable”.

    Hmmm. I said none of the ideas you implicate me of suggesting are enforceable. How shall I put it in the simplest of terms?

    I first stated that we should consider A1 & B.

    You came back clamoring “there is no A1, it is A2, so I am ignorant of A2”.

    I replied, “I know A2, you are splitting hairs, but ok, I now ask for A2 & B”.

    You retorted “Ah, there is also C, D & E. So I am ignorant”

    I replied by relating C, D & E to the Hindu context, calling them 3, 4 & 5, & proved that 3, 4 & 5 are impossible, and thus not what I’m asking for. I am asking for A & B.

    Is that clear? If not, I give up; I don’t think I can simplify this any further.

    A is asking if it is possible for a Hindu legal body to use certain Hindu symbols / names (e.g. Shiva, Om, Durga) to trademark certain products (shoes, DVDs, underwear, sex toys, toilet accessories). This is to prevent other parties from commercially misusing them on such products in the future.

    The 1st Council Directive (89/104/EEC of 12/21/88) to Member States to approximate laws on trademarks clearly states that it will not be possible to register trademarks which cover religious symbols. Also, a trademark is a word, picture, or symbol that identifies a source.

    Does this wrap up the issue? No. In Holland, many erotic DVDs appeared using ‘Shiva’. When Dutch Hindus took legal action, the court refused to ban DVDs as it was deemed that the user of the symbol was unaware of its religious significance, so its use was not aimed at such significance.

    Current trademark law in W.Europe imposes few restrictions on registering of symbols as exclusive trademarks. Thus the Benelux TM Office did not block registering ‘Shiva’ as an erotic trademark.

    However, if the name Shiva had already been trademarked by a Hindu commercial body for erotic DVDs, we could have prevented this.

    I am referring to misuse of the name / icon alone here, not to protection against usage of an ‘image’ of a devi on say, a toilet seat. For this, we need to resort to other forms of action (including B).

    B is asking if we can link up with other groups who are currently engaged in legal proceedings against the commercial misuse of their traditional symbols.

    Huge developments have taken place in protecting indegenous knowlege. The WIPO (World Intellectual Property Org) is working with nations, orgs & indigenous peoples to address legal issues wrt traditional knowledge protectionism.

    Many indigenous groups (Indians, Aboriginals, Maoris) are trying to reclaim their native symbols from commercial corporate use. The Native Indians case faced the following hurdles :

    – Owners of a symbol would need to use it, or intend to use it, “in commerce.”

    – The symbol cannot be a functional part of the product. A religious medallion is ok, as it can be used as a necklace without the symbol, but prayer beads will not be as its design is inseparable from the finished object’s purpose.

    – Main hurdle is the symbol already being commoditized by others, even if not registered by them. No existing IP right prevents commoditization of symbols, even if they’re not supposed to be. Even under property laws, the rights of purchasers of original “eyes-only-classified” religio/cultural artifacts from thieves is usually deemed bona fide if buyer had no reason to know the thief was unauthorized.

    The Hopis claimed a Hopi religious symbol was used on a whiskey bottle in abuse of the sacredness of it in their society. The corporate defense was “if it is not protected by a TM it can be used by anyone for anything”.

    However, there are some successes. And a lot of dynamism is building up in this area. TRIPs will not be the last word on this. Current successes include :

    1. Sui generis cultural-property laws like NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) have been used to force museums to return war god statues to the pueblo’s priests, as ‘his’ statues are traditionally kept in low-access shrines to harness his powers, & Zunis believe that removing the statutes from shrines caused specific disasters and a spiritual imbalance.

    The Maori sued Philip Morris in New York for (inter alia) abusing their cultural symbols.

    This shows that Hindus will not find themselves alone if they start challenging misuse of trademarks.

    The US Patent & TM Office ruled in 4/2/99 that a Washington professional football team no longer had the right to the name Redskins, as the term is disparaging to minorities, inspite for using the name for 67 years. The team argued that the term Redskin had not been an insult for 100s of years, and when the team started using it, they wanted to honor Native Americans. They still lost.

    You gave a long response on many other points. While I thank you for the substantial time you have devoted, it was superfluous. Most of these points are self-evident, & I am aware of them. Like

    “You cannot copyright real characters from history because they are not ‘ideas’.”

    Who in their right minds would try to do that.

    “Copyright, Trademarks and Patents (require):
    1. a legal personality to be granted a right.
    2. the right to be commercial in nature”.

    I know. That is precisely why I wanted an org who can set up a specific legal body to get involved to see if latter can obtain trademarks on commercial products.

    “Letters of Patent … fell into disuse a long time ago. Constitution of India does not confer any such law making powers to the President.”

    As I clearly mentioned, this was not cited not as a solution, but to prove to you that all copyrights do not expire in 60 years or so (as you claimed).

    Besides, LPS are not in complete disuse. The Scottish Parliament was dissolved under Letters Patent as late as 1999 (?) for devolution.

    Most of these points are superfluous (I have asked for A & B, & you now unleash “F to Z” on me), so I have discounted them after one reading.

    One I am interested in though is about the legal position of the pope vis a vis Hindu pontiff.

    “Churches are recognized legal personalities to the extent that the Pope is a subject of International Law. he is on par with a sovereign. This allows him to be a member of the UN and sit on international bodies including the IAEA.

    basic point : You can’t compare unified religions with a definite Institution or Head at core to a decentralized religion dating back to antiquity. Temples and Idols are legal personalities capable of owning property but none of them represent all Hindus.

    There is something called locus standi when it comes to filing a case or claiming a legal right.”

    Thank you for articulating this point very nicely. Yes, there is a massive gap between the power of the church & pontiff

    Legal power of church
    On 6/15/05, pope Benedict XVI stated “It is important that God be visible inside public and private houses, that God be present in the public life, with the presence of crucifixes inside public buildings”

    3 months later, he exchanged opinions with Berlusconi about Church-State relations in Italy, confirming the common will of both to collaborate within the framework of the Lateran Treaty.

    That month, judge Luigi Tosti, was condemned to 7 months in jail and a 1 year suspension, when he refused to judge in the presence of religious signs inside the courtroom.

    Tosti rest his case on the Republic Constitution of 1947, stating all citizens “are equal before the law, without consideration of sex, race, tongue, religion.”

    A 1926 directive from a fascist minister (never abolished by succeeding governments), stating that crucifix must be on display inside Italian courtrooms, was used to condemn Tosti.

    Italy lives under both the Lateran Treaty & Church-State concordat between Vatican & Italy. This concordat was signed in 1929, when Mussolini headed government. This was renewed in 1984, by a socialist, Craxi !!

    Such is the legal power of the church.

    Legal power of the Hindu pontiff = Nil !!
    The contrasting terrible lacunae in Hinduism is something that has bothered a lot of Hindus for a long time.

    A few years back, a group I was then associated with tried contacting the Shankaracharya of Kanchi to enquire the possibility of setting up an overarching Hindu legal body recognised by all main Hindu organizations as representing Hinduism.

    We wanted to set up a structure headed by the Shankaracharya of Kanchi, with a standing body of 20 (?) functionaries with representation from the top 20 (?) Hindu bodies with maximum recognition in India & abroad.

    We could not get in contact with Kanchi, but managed to gain access to a Shankaracharya of a smaller peetha (Bhanpura, in MP). A lawyer associated with the VHP informed us that this was legally possible, provided we had written representations from all significant and major Hindu institutions in India. He did not specify the criterion of determining them, so we started compiling lists of any large organizations & temples in our respective cities and districts.

    We thought the project was doomed from the start, knowing the legendary disunity among Hindus. We had not sorted out all legal issues (for e.g : is priesthood a profession … according to the 3/21/06 Bar Council of India petition, priests & nuns are definitely professionals).

    However, when we started discussing this with Hindu organizations, nearly 75% of the organizations we contacted were very interested in the idea, provided we could guarantee that the body would not ever interfere with their internal functioning. This was very encouraging.

    It was then that Shankaracharya of Kanchi was falsely accused, and our project collapsed.

    So thanks for highlighting the problem today. Some of us have tried finding the solution (but failed) in the past.

    Anyway, this was an aside. Though this is not directly relevant to my points A & B above, it illustrates an important lacunae that Hindus have to fill.

    Do you now see where I am coming from?. I am not asking for Hindu ‘symbols per se’ to be trade-marked (or as per my original phrase, design ‘patented’). I am asking if a Hindu body can register trademarks for Hindu symbols / names on products that will be particularly harmful to flaunt them on, like shoes, toilets, underwear, sex toys, erotic DVDs etc.

    It will be difficult to trademark overt religious symbols, like Om on shoes (high value symbols cannot be reademarked). However, it should be easier to trademark the main names of our deities (Shiva, SHIVA, shiva, Rama, rama, RAMA, etc) for the most ‘nasty’ products, to prevent them from being misused by others (like “Shiva” in the erotic videos in Holland or “Rama” on toilet seats).

    Proprietary rights for trademarks may be established through actual market use, or registration with the trademarks. Thus I am under the opinion (correct me if wrong) that actual mass manufacturing ability for the products does not have to be proved. All that is required is setting up a legal / corporate body, and registering.

    If so this should not be too costly in time & money (I think

  105. Hara hara bom bom October 18, 2007 — 3:31 pm

    Sorry WTF, following comments got cut of from above:

    If so this should not be too costly in time & money (I think

  106. Hara Hara Bom Bom’s comment somehow is getting cut off by WP for God knows what reason. So he sent me in the bottom part of his comment and I am posting it here:

    From HHBB’s previous comment:

    If so this should not be too costly in time & money (I think < US$400 for a US trademark …. territoriality accepted). It could save us the relentless stream of tedious legal protests Hindus end up in.



    If you are a legal expert, I'd appreciate your help on :

    1. Please give me your views on Caspar van Woensel, who is conducting research on the public use and misuse of symbols from the University of Leiden. Are you acquainted with his works, & can you comment on them? The internet is not that informative.

    2. What are your views on recent developments on protection of Traditional & Indigenous knowledge especially activities by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) to protect such knowledge?

    As you know, though initial efforts were spurred by the Convention of Biological Diversity, WIPO’s ambit has extended, and they are working with nations, orgs, & indigenous peoples to address legal issues wrt traditional knowledge protectionism through the Intergovt Committee on IP & Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore.

    How far do you think they will they be successful in their actions, considering that this is in direct conflict with TRIPs?

    3. I am curious about your fig of 60 years for copyright. I thought, for USA, it is 70 years (personal works), 95-120 years (company works) and 20 years (patents). What does 60 years relate to?

  107. Hara hara bom bom October 18, 2007 — 3:58 pm

    Hi GB, Many thanks. There were also 3 lines below that got cut off.

    Hi WTF, sorry for mess of piece-meal comments :

    “WTF, I am being presumptuous with my requests, as people have limited time, so if you cannot oblige with answers, say so, & I will look elsewhere.

    Best regards & pujo greetings”

  108. @ hara hara bom bom:

    i think we’ve thrashed this comment string for everyone as usual. so im going to try to be as brief as possible.

    @ ON POINT A:

    country 1 (Eg- india, us, uk), religiously offensive trademarks not allowed. no way or need for hindus to trademark their gods.

    country 2 (eg- nederlands, not adopting the the 1st Council Directive (89/104/EEC of 12/21/88) being optional and not mandatory, china, cuba)- state blind to religious sensitivities. extreme rare exceptions.

    in such countries, anyone can trademark a hindu diety or symbol. in such a case, blocking the trademark is a possibility as a defense to misuse.

    but most probably you have to manufacture goods as under TRIP’s, as there is no active obligation to protect non-usage of a registered trade marks. i dont know about nederlands but in countries like India non-manufacturing is a ground for striking off registration.

    surely now you dont want to start selling porn videos, toilets and shoes with religious symbols to pre-empt someone else from doing it! good for you that nowadays one registration usually prevents registration by another person for another class of goods and services. So Shiva agarbattis should prevent Shiva condoms.

    @ point B (traditional knowledge and biodiversity):

    in my very first post i responded to your fear of darjeeling tea of being patented by saying that india has a very good track record of defending traditional knowledge as seen in the basmati and tumeric cases.

    we have internationally recognized experts who are consulted by the WIPO. though the leader of this movement, Dr. Vandana Shiva, is as irritating as Arundhati Roy, Burkha Dutt or Sunita Narain.

    @ on hindu unification and a pontiff as powerful as the Pope:

    best of luck. i am sure if you succeed you will get the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Question 1: Caspar van Woensel:

    I doubt if his views will have any effect because:

    His arguments are in the specific context of the Nederlands which is ideologically blind to religious senstivity. he argues this should not be the case. he tries to build a case by proving that emotional value of a symbol should be considered (a desperately secular argument don’t you think?).

    the point is moot as the vast majority of countries are sensitive to religious feelings and emotions.

    Question 2: (conflict between TRIPs and WIPO) It’s a complex question.

    TRIPs and TRIMs were pushed through as additional protocols under the WTO by the USA when initially this was not within the scope of the agreement.

    The actual international body with regard to unification of IP is WIPO not TRIPS. so there will be a conflict between the two from time to time. however, none of these agreements are cast in stone and are negotiated round for round.

    India is doing a fantastic job of representing the rights of the third world at the WTO and has much admiration in the international community for it. i have seen this with my own eyes. sad that the media never points this out.

    Question 3: Sixty is a wrong figure. under the indian copyright act it is 50 years. quoting george w. bush.. shows how much i know.. 🙂

  109. Hara hara bom bom October 19, 2007 — 7:42 pm


    Just read your response. I couldn’t let this blog in poised suspension without wrapping up and thanking you sincerely, both for the valuable info. you’ve provided & for Pujo.

    I found your comments on (A) extremely useful and educational. If I decide to go in to manufacturing, it will have to be the erotic DVDs. 🙂

    For (B), to be honest, I was more looking for steps to protect the symbols of traditional societies. The points you mention about India’s contribution are valid, but more relate to the patenting of biological products, & resistance through claims of prior art.

    I already know some aspects of this, as my uncle was deeply interested in India’s contribution on this, & I got an detonating ear-load of info whenever I visited him.

    You should have seen his shenanigans, pacing up and down in a loadshedding hit Salt Lake evening, swiftly chapaati’ing any presumptuous assailing mosquito with a thunderclap slap on muscular arms, clad in a milk-white bapi sando-vest, munching paan and mumbling “bio-Nazi, bio-Nazi” (bio-pirate was too mild a word) whenever any Indian indigenous product was stolen.

    Most Indian victories (turmeric, Grace’s cotton & neem) was greeted with a trip to the local Chinese restaurant. Every loss to the “bio-Nazis, bio-Nazis” (amarus, amlaa, karola) was mourned by turning the TV off with a sharp click (he’d broken the remote) & going to bed by 9 pm to mope.

    My cousin used to slink out on those days by 6 to our place, claiming ‘aaj bhaiier baari poraa aacche’ (studies at cousin’s place) and we’d spend the evening in euphoric youthful merrymaking (basically a few cheap Russian cigarettes and slightly risqué video in my room … how sad was that 😦 )?

    RiceTec’s Basmati was a strange one. If memory serves me correct, we managed to revoke only a fourth of RiceTec’s total claims. His initial glimmerings of boundless euphoria somewhat dissipated later on. He did take his brood for a Chinese, but later wailed, “Shob galo, shob galo. Shoitaanra shob chinlo. Khabaar bhaat thakbe na (all lost, all lost. The devils have snatched everything. We’ll have no rice to eat).

    And the digital library of traditional knowledge? He was morbidly against it. He said the bio-Nazis would steal everything anyway. If we now compiled the knowledge for their convenience, all they’ll do is study the CD, slightly tweak the product, and patent it.

    I told him it would be millions of pages of priceless traditional wisdom, which he coldly dismissed with a “Chorer jonyo bitto suchi” (an asset list prepared for the thief) !! I told him that the WIPO was deeply interest. He stared at me resolutely, and then whispered in measured menace “WIPO is the biggest 420 of all, the grand puppet master”.

    The day bio-diversity fertile countries (India, China, Brazil, Central America, Kenya & South Africa, Indonesia & Malasia) signed an agreement to fight bio-piracy, was the happiest in his life. He was jumping in glee when I visited, exclaiming “Faatiye dilo. Faatiye dilo. Baah baah”

    Sorry to bother you with some idle nostalgia so late. He’s gone now, and in the midst of all the Pujo jubilations, the happy days of past suddenly struck me, days when all of those I loved could be seen in flesh, and not just in the avenues and alley-ways of misty memory.

    I will try to closely follow the Native Indian cases to see how effective they are in reclaiming their symbols, and folklore from corporate abuse. I wanted to stay away from “Pishi”moni (PC) as it has been a draining Ashtomi, but I just have to thank you.

    Heartiest Ashtomi (now Nabomi) regards to you & your family.

  110. @ W.T.F

    I seem to have missed a lot of action;
    Well, I have a few specific as well as general questions for you since you seem to be a legal expert.

    Absence of profit motive

    Some of the commentators have argued that the absence of the profit motive is the real clincher in deciding the case against JKR. Consider the following scenario- I sell pirated CDs and use the proceeds (in a verifiable way) to support a couple of NGOs. Do the IPR laws stop applying to me? Doesn’t that tantamount to playing Robin Hood in a modern sense?

    Monetization of user-base

    There was considerable debate how existence of a user-base does not directly benefit the pujo committee. But does that matter? – As long as merchandise is being sold and ads are being aired, thanks to the user-base and footfalls. JKR’s lawyers could argue that the revenue generated is being used to cover costs for the Pujo so that people can participate without paying an entry fee. In other words, a copyrighted artifact has been used to subsidize a celebration. I suppose these guys would still need to quantify the increase in footfalls to claim any compensation.

    Problem of Precedent

    I am aware that the court has included a warning in its judgment, but assume for a moment it hasn’t. I am willing to believe that the Pujo, as it exists currently in WB, is free of commercial motivations and essentially an act of celebration and camaraderie. What about, – in future? What about in some of the other religious celebrations where commercial interests dominate? Could the judgment set an unhealthy precedent?

    While it’s ironical that, as GB pointed out, we’re debating almost a non-issue while at least 99% of Bollywood should be coughing up hefty compensation, I am merely interested in knowing more about the interpretation of IPR laws.

  111. er- if every one patents everything………..
    i hope we get to patent the positions of kama sutra.
    also hope that the said monies will be used to
    1. construct public loos offering pristine cleanliness
    2. provide a superb system of education

  112. “Uncle give us 20 more rupees. This year we will have the Asura with an Andy Roberts face.” LOL!

    this is total bull. us patents haldi and neem and yoga and we don’t say anything!!! instead we attack our own ppl from crap like this!

  113. Hara hara bom bom October 23, 2007 — 11:19 am

    Hi Ravi,

    Pujo greetings. Your query was for WTF, but I’ll add my opinion too. Hope you don’t mind :

    1. Absence of profit motive & scenario (pirated sales to use proceeds for social good)

    The initial and prime transaction is a commercial one, which has generated profit. As such, it is under IPR ambit. Utilization of the commercial proceeds is a different transaction / consideration.

    2. Monetization of user-base : JKR’s lawyers could argue that the revenue generated is being used to cover costs for the Pujo so that people can participate without paying an entry fee. In other words, a copyrighted artifact has been used to subsidize a celebration.

    JKR may find it difficult to establish this, as other pandals manage to offer a similar product, while employing the same finance matrix and without taking recourse to the copyrighted artifact (Hogwarts).

    JKR will have to establish that the increase in revenue arising from utilising this artifact is substantial. She could study the marginal increase in revenues vis-a-vis other years and other pandals from the Pandal Committe Accounts.

    3. Problem of Precedent – “What about, – in future? What about in some of the other religious celebrations where commercial interests dominate? Could the judgment set an unhealthy precedent”?

    My suggestion above of a Standing Committee will be useful here. They could issue guidelines on such issues, and act as a point of contact for queries from pandals as well as concerns from international bodies. As globalisation marches on, we are no longer inured from such international consideration.

  114. @ HHBB

    Pujo Greetings. And thanks for the response –it was helpful.

  115. @ ravi ivaturi:

    sorry for taking so long to reply. im really no expert but i know the basics of IP because i studied law at university.

    Absence of profit motive/monetization of user base.

    copyright is a bundle of rights relating to a literary/art work. this includes adaptations of that work.

    so while copyright is about compensation of the artist, it is also about giving control over exactly how the work is used to the artist.

    all that needs to be done to prove a violation is to show that a work was used/adapted without the permission of the copyright holder. that is enough.

    so the profit motive/monetization of a base of people is not really a mitigating factor.

    it is a procedural requirement of the Delhi High Court to pray for liquidated damages (meaning the action of X has cost me Rs. 5,000 damages) because that is the primary remedy for copyright violation, i.e., damages along with an injunction.

    finally, the law allows for fair use (eg- reproducing excerpts for examinations) as well as never takes into consideration trivialities (little children making harry potter hats).

    i feel the pandal being a massive one does not fall into any of the above categories. the judgment is robin hoodish as you point out.

    @ as a precedent:

    a single judge bench of a high court sitting in original jurisdiction is the lowest form of precedent creation (say as opposed to a 13 judge bench of the Supreme Court sitting in appeal).

    i dont think it really binds anyone but would be of some consolation to the hapless lawyer who tried to argue that such usage would not constitute copyright violation. there are loads of crappy precedents in all areas of law.

    in regards bollywood: david dhawan has been used by the makers of hitch for partner, numerous music directors have been sued by malayasian and arabian bands. bollywood is waking up the world of international copyright very fast.

  116. Is Britain’s one of the richest woman worried that the collections from Durga pooja rob her of her richness? What was done by the Penguin is insane. Thanks to our always savior courts, sanity has prevailed.

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  118. Sameena Mohamed April 7, 2009 — 4:05 pm

    yup, that’s just silly and mean. Hope somebody sat these people down and explained to them the concept of a Durga puja. I assume the case was eventually withdrawn.

  119. GR international is a reputed manufacturers and exporters of Agarbatti, Agarbathi, Incienso, Incenso and Sahumerio in India

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