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Copyright and the internet

Consider this hypothetical example: Jerry Rao writes an Op-Ed in the Indian Express. It appears on, say, a Wednesday. It is about the License Raj. Two days later, the Times of India carries a piece about the License Raj. The strap of the piece says, "We have received an outpouring of letters from readers in India and overseas about the License Raj." It carries a selection of these 'letters.' The first of them is by Jerry Rao, and carries the first three paras of the piece he had written in IE. There is no mention of IE.

It would be a big deal, wouldn't it? IE would be justified in getting their knickers in a twist, as would Mr Rao, who sent ToI no letter at all. ToI would almost certainly carry an apology and a correction. Now, here's something I want to emphasize:

The copyright protection Rao's column in the Indian Express enjoys is exactly the same as that a post by Rashmi Bansal on Youth Curry enjoys, or a post by me on this blog.

Everything that appears on any internet site is protected by copyright, unless the author chooses to give it away. Click here for more on this. (Do read Point 4 of that to see what constitutes "fair use." ToI's use of Rao's article in my hypothetical example would not.)The practice that some Indian newspapers have adopted, of taking content freely from websites at will, ignores this truth. That needs to change.

PS: Let me stress that the above example was hypothetical. But this is not.

Cross-posted on India Uncut.
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