[Foundation-l] Fwd: Copyright problems of images from India

Shiju Alex shijualexonline at gmail.com
Tue May 10 10:37:25 UTC 2011

Dear All,

I am forwarding the below mail on behalf of a Malayalam wikipedian who is
very active in Wikimedia Commons.

Of late it is becoming very difficult for many Wikimedians from India to
contribute to Wikimedia Commons especially if they are uploading historical
images which are in PD.  We are facing lot of issues (and many a times
unnecessary controversies also) with the historic images in PD, images of
wall paintings and statues, and so on. Please see the below mail in which
Sreejith citing various examples.

It is almost impossible for the uploaders from India to show proof of the
century old images of  Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The current policies of
Commons are not permitting many of the PD images from India citing all sorts
of policies which might be relevant only in the western world. With these
type of policies we are going to have serious issues when we try to go for
GLAM type events.

But I also do not know the solution for this issue. Requesting constructive

Shiju Alex

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sreejith K. <sreejithk2000 at gmail.com>
Date: Thu, May 5, 2011 at 12:03 PM
Subject: Copyright problems of images from India
To: Shiju Alex <shijualexonline at gmail.com>


As you might be aware already, we are having trouble keeping historical
images about India in Wikimedia commons. This pertains mostly to images
about Hindu gods and people who died before 1947.

Please see the below examples:

   - File:Narayana
Guru.jpg<http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Narayana_Guru.jpg> -
   This is the image of Sree Narayana
   a Hindu saint, social reformer and is even considered a god by certain
   castes in Kerala. This image has been tagged as an image with No source.
   Narayana Guru expired in 1928 and considering the conditions in which India
   was in during that period and before, it is very difficult to get an image
   source online. Most active Wikipedians does not have access or information
   on how old the image is or where a source of it can be found. Any photograph
   published before 1941 in India is in public domain as per Indian copyright
   act. Common sense says that this image meets this criteria because the
   person was long lead before 1941, but we still need proof of the first
   publishing date. Deleting this image on grounds that no source could be
   found will only reduce the informative values of all the articles which this
   image is included in.
   - File:Aravana.JPG: This image has already been deleted, but you can see
   the amount of discussion that went in before deleting it. See
   (An almost similar image can be found
   image as put for deletion because it had the image of Swami
Ayyappan<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swami_Ayyappan>in it. Ayyappan,
a popular god of Kerala, has his image circulated
   everywhere on the plant with no proof of copyrights. It makes sense to
   believe that this image is not eligible for copyright because
   Hindu deities are all common property, but again, Commons need proof that
   the image is in public domain. This is the same case with all Hindu
   gods/goddesses. The images can only be kept in Commons if the uploader can
   provide proof that the images are in public domain.
   - File:Kottarathil
   This is a picture of Kottarathil
   the author of the famous book
   Kottarathil Sankunni died in 1937 and so it makes sense to believe that this
   image was created on or before 1937 and thus falls in Public Domain. But
   some people in Commons is refusing to believe that and is asking for proof.
   Now it becomes the responsibility of the uploader to show proof that this
   image was published 60 years before today. The editor who nominated the
   image for deletion is on the safer side because it is not his responsibility
   to prove that the image is a copyright violation. So long story short,
   anyone can nominate any image for copyright violation and it becomes the
   uploaders responsibility to prove that its not. The deletion nomination need
   not be accompanied with a reason for disbelief.
   - File:Anoop
   This is the picture of Anoop
   a popular actor from Kerala. A discussion is going on about the uploaders
   credibility whether he is the original photographer of this image. Please
   see File talk:Anoop
   The reason for doubting the uploader is simple. This image has professional
   quality and so the uploader cannot be the copyright owner because this is
   his first upload. Strange? Now, it becomes the responsibility of the
   uploader to prove that he took this image and I do not know how and nor does
   the person who is arguing for it. He claims that the uploader can upload the
   full resolution image with EXIF but whats even funny is that most of images
   from the person who is saying this does not meet this criteria. Again, back
   to round 1 in my first example. Its the responsibility of the uploader to
   prove his image and anyone can doubt him for any stupid reason and commons
   hardly cares.

As you can see, it is getting quite difficult to maintain images from India
in commons. India is a country which has only started to use Internet less
than a decade ago and we still do not have many of our countries' books or
sources of information online. So any image from India which gets nominated
for deletion in Wikimedia Commons get deleted for absence of proof. Commons
is ruled by *precautionary principle*, where in they are not willing to take
any risks on copyright and will delete any image for which anyone has
doubts. This is in contrary to local wikipedia projects in India where it is
rules by the *good faith principle* where we will trust the uploader and it
becomes the responsibility of the nominator to prove that the image has
false copyright claim.

This issue is beginning to hurt the contents from India. If we can do
something, its time we act immediately. If we are just going to just spent
out time discussing about it, the pictures of all Hindu gods and people who
died before independence might get deleted by that time.

Sreejith K.

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