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

Wjhonson wjhonson at aol.com
Tue May 10 14:27:12 UTC 2011

 As you say any photograph of a person obviously living, and yet who died before 1941 is in the Public Domain in India.? This is true regardless of any other point raised about the source of the photograph as you again say.

The first step is to get agreement on those points for the Indian portion of Wikimedia Commons.


-----Original Message-----
From: Shiju Alex <shijualexonline at gmail.com>
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>; Discussion list on Indian language projects of Wikimedia. <wikimediaindia-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Sent: Tue, May 10, 2011 3:37 am
Subject: [Foundation-l] Fwd: Copyright problems of images from India

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 
here<.)This" target=_blankhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/anoopp/5706721852/in/photostream/>.)This 
   image as put for deletion because it had the image of Swami 
Ayyappan<in" target=_blankhttp://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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