In the meantime, here is some more food for thought: I have asked my former
colleague in Wikimedia Israel, Dror K (CCed above), to share his experience
with attempting to block similar legislation in Israel in 2007, and how he
ended up helping to mitigate it.

I bring his account verbatim below.  Hope this helps,

    Asaf Bartov
    Wikimedia Foundation

I am writing this in English, so you could forward it to our colleagues and
friends in India.

The problem is not simple at all, because it involves international
commitments and pressure. The international copyright treaty, known today as
WIPO Treaty and replacing the former Bern Treaty, demands that parties to
the treaty will abolish the distinction between photographs and other
creative works. See here: (Article
9). The former Bern Treaty allowed each country to decide whether it wants
to have a special copyright period for photographs, and set a minimum of 25
years. India, like most countries, decided to make this distinction and
opted for the minimal requirement of the Bern Treaty. It has all changed
several years ago, when the WIPO Treaty canceled this paragraph of the Bern

>From my experience with handling this issue in Israel - the chances of
changing the legislators' mind about this are slim, because there are
international commitments involved. And yet, two things should be sought and
demanded: (1) that the change will not be retrospective; (2) that it would
not affect state-owned copyrights

In Israel, after our appeal, the Ministry of Justice agreed to introduce a
paragraph saying that the change was not retrospective (namely, the old
statute applies for pictures taken before the enactment of the new
legislation). The Ministry explained that the history of Zionism and
Israel's struggle for independence (including the first decades of the state
that saw major events and changes in the landscape and population of the
country) requires that photographs from that time be released to the public
domain as planned. The legislators approved that.

Since India's struggle for independence happened during the same years, this
argument can be used in the Indian case too. The Ministry also suggested a
slight reduction in the copyright period of state-owned works. Since there
are many state-employed photographers, doing various tasks of documentation,
this amendment was important, though we still struggle to make state-owned
works fully free, like in the US. The fact that the UK changed its policy
regarding state-owned copyright is helpful, because the Indian legal system
(like the Israeli) was inherited from the British colonial regime, hence
every legal solution used in the UK is probably feasible in India as well.

I hope this helps. Best of luck!

Dror K
On Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 9:37 PM, Gautam John <>wrote:

> On 19 June 2011 21:57, Pranesh Prakash <> wrote:
> > If one of you could help me draft the letter (I'm looking at you,
> > Gautam), that would be appreciated.
> For sure. Will work on this offline and post it here for further action.
> Thank you.
> Best,
> Gautam
> ________
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimediaindia-l mailing list

    Asaf Bartov
    Wikimedia Foundation
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