This is the fourth and final installment of my interview series with Inclusive Planet’s communications and marketing director, Ujjvala Ballal. I hope you have enjoyed the series. Frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m no professional journalist!
We have covered quite a lot of ground with regard to Inclusive Planet’s plans for growth and expansion, marketing and monetization, impact and policy. In this last part, I want to explore some questions about copyright protections, intellectual property and file sharing.
The sum total of everything I know about copyright can be summed up by my mother’s admonition, “don’t take things that don’t belong to you.” I’ve always lived by that, and I realize that the finer points of copyright law just might be a bit more complex. However, not being a legal eagle specializing in intellectual property rights, my further understanding of these complexities might be obscured by my rather unsophisticated knee-jerk reaction, "hey, take your hands off that, it’s mine.”
I always find other’s attitudes about copyright and intellectual property protections really very interesting. I notice that people who produce intellectual property tend to have a healthy respect for, nearly a reverence of, copyright laws. On the other hand, I know of those who produce nothing, have created nothing, have never agonized over every detail of their handiwork a day in their lives, and freely rip off whomever and whatever they can, sharing in copious quantities with no reservation or consideration of the source whatsoever.
One of the first things I noticed when I logged into Inclusive Planet for the first time was the liberal use of file sharing. Everything imaginable is being shared on the site, from music to texts, audio to video. Some of the files were being uploaded by entities I recognized as publishing companies of print material in alternative file formats, such as Libre Vox, Matilda Ziegler and Washington Association for the Blind. However, I found a number of other file types, which caused me a bit of eyebrow raising.
My understanding of current copyright laws is that to some degree, they are fluid and there are efforts underway to make changes. How U. S. copyright law differs from international copyright laws, I do not know. My only exposure to specifics comes from my own published work and information shared by a relative who works for a book publishing company. I know that in the US, the Writer’s Guild, for example, has fought against making some books available in audio formats for the blind, as this renders their work vulnerable to copyright infringement. Well, if you saw what goes on in some of these file-sharing sites, you’d understand their concerns.
I also understand that ever since the Internet was born, there is strong opinion on both sides of the issue. Some people believe that because it’s out there for the taking, it should be taken. Others believe a vice-like grip is necessary to fight the tidal wave of piracy from compromising quality. Then, there are those who haven’t stopped downloading long enough to think about it.
I’m really very curious about this now, and I’d love it if some experts in copyright law would weigh in. I’ve had my own experiences where I was forced to either gently remind someone that permission must be granted in order to reprint another’s work, to outright demanding something be pulled down. Without the teeth of legal jurisprudence, however, kindly requests seem to go utterly ignored.
LL: Some might refer to this type of web site as a "file sharing" operation, and this raises some questions about copyright and intellectual property. What rules govern Inclusive Planet, and how is it monitored? Is there some sort of legal oversight?
IP: IP allows its members to use the site for various purposes, such as social interaction and sharing of content in accessible formats. Inclusiveplanet.com is an intermediary in accordance with Indian law, similar to say, youtube.com. Inclusive Planet respects third party intellectual property and we have a take down policy pursuant to which we will take down infringing material if we are informed about it in accordance with our take down policy. For more information on the take down policy please see http://www.inclusiveplanet.com/en/take-down-policy_en
The users of Inclusive Planet, the “Planeteers,” are the best advocates of the site. While they would likely agree with me that use of the site is by no means limited to individuals who have print disabilities, there is a definite camaraderie among the members, a bond forged by understanding and shared experiences.
Planeteer Gunjan said: IN A NUT SHELL FROM THE INCLUSIVE PLANET I GOT
MOTIVATION TO MOVE AHEAD IN LIFE and inspiration to enhance myself socially. I love Inclusive Planet!