The TOI edit, in fact, reminded me instantly of developments just about a year ago, when Egypt's Supreme Antiquities Council announced plans to protect its antiquities through introducing a copyright law (of sorts). Reports pointed out that protection was intended to apply to exact scaled replicas of antiquities, i.e., someone would have to build a full-scale replica for it to be considered an infringement. Perhaps the Indian diplomatic spokesperson was reminded of the same when the statement about protecting the Taj under copyright was made.
That Egypt story was rubbished by almost everybody, for a variety of reasons. Very basically, for example, copyright grants protection for a specific period only, after which the entity in question enters and remains in the public domain. Clearly, no such principle can be applied in the case of historical monuments, the creators of which have long since passed on, and it is well entrenched in the public domain.
I think there needs to be some closure to this news as well: at least from an IPR perspective, there does not appear to be any form of protection available. It would be irresponsible of diplomats, or journalists even, to speculate upon the possibilities of demanding copyright protection for the Taj where none exists. And of course, it is ridiculous to envisage a diplomatic ‘fracas’ (as some have put it) between
It may be useful here to point out that WIPO does have its Creative Heritage Project, where it works for the preservation of intangible heritage, traditional cultural expression (TCEs)/folklore, genetic resources, and traditional knowledge. I don't see the Taj fitting in any of these categories. However, if, as reports suggest, folks are "irked" by the replica, potential fora for discussing this issue could be UNESCO and the World Heritage Centre, even though, again, this makes no mention of protecting replicas of monuments.
At the end of the day, I do not honestly think one can even begin to conflate this issue with copyright. It was made, as the filmmaker himself defends it, "because Bangladeshis could not "afford to go to
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
By now, everyone has probably heard the story of the 'other' Taj - a Bangladeshi film-maker has decided to manufacture a life-size copy of the Taj Mahal, in a location just north of
Dhaka. There were early reports of the Indian High Commission in saying it would investigate about whether any copyright laws had been breached. That was soon swept under the carpet- perhaps someone informed the diplomat in question that - ahem - there was a slight technical error in that statement. Coincidentally, I was at the Taj this weekend, visiting after about 15 years, and overwhelmed by its grandeur, wondered how anyone coud ever mistake anything else for this. And so I thought the story would die its own death, simply because it was so silly,.But the post-mortem analysis on the structure is ongoing, with editorials such as this and this, which suggested that all speculation may still not have ended. Bangladesh