C. Gouridasan Nair

Chief Minister against mechanical enforcement of Copyright Act

  • Rishiraj Singh ordered clampdown on video libraries
  • Order if implemented strictly will hit the livelihood of many

    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The directive issued by Inspector-General of Police Rishiraj Singh against lending of CDs, VCDs and DVDs by video libraries is likely to be put on the backburner in the wake of strong protests from diverse quarters.

    Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan are against mechanical enforcement of the relevant provisions of the law and are worried that Mr. Singh's directive, if strictly enforced, would render several hundreds across the State without a means of livelihood. Mr. Singh, Nodal Officer of the State's Police's Anti-Piracy Cell, had invoked Section 51 of the Copyright Act and issued instructions to officers at the lower level not to permit lending of CDs, VCDs and DVDs.

    Video library owners, who have been on the warpath following the raids on their premises, are faced with certain closure of their businesses.

    The IG's order, perfectly legal when looked at from the point of law and order, has sparked a debate about clampdown on the retail segment of the economy and its implications both on the livelihood of a large number of people and easy access to intellectual property.

    Hundreds of video libraries across Kerala are a partial answer to the problem of unemployment, just as the parallel transport services are, and there is widespread resentment among youth organisations about the IG's move on that score.

    On the Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) front, while the iron-fisted manner in which Mr. Singh has sought to address video piracy has won him many admirers, there is a growing feeling that carrying the campaign too far would amount to offering protection to big operators and denial of access to intellectual property to a wider population with serious implications for democratisation of knowledge.

    Even within the Government, there is a strong feeling that while it is necessary to check piracy of audio-video content and to prevent the pirating of just-released films, it would be counterproductive to go in for a blanket ban on audio-video lending.

    Reflecting the mood of the sections critical of the move against the video libraries, the CPI-led All India Youth Federation (AIYF) has decided to organise a Secretariat March on Tuesday. In a statement here on Sunday, AIYF State president V. S. Sunil Kumar, MLA, and secretary P.S. Supal said thatitwould render thousands of persons jobless..