Interview with Doron Ben Atar on how Intellectual Piracy was central to the Making od Modern America
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Summary: These interviews were conducted as a part of the Contested Commons/ Trespassing Publics conference organized by Sarai: CSDS and the Alternative Law Forum in January 2005.
Doron Ben-Atar is chair of the history department at Fordham and a member of Fordham’s Middle East Studies and Women’s Studies programs. He is currently working with Professor Richard D. Brown of the University of Connecticut on a study of bestiality in the early republic. Doron Ben-Atar is the author of Trade Secrets: Intellectual Piracy and the Origins of American Industrial Power (Yale University Press, 2004). This interview examines the role that intellectual property piracy played in the making of industrial America, and examines it in relation to the contemporary rhetoric of the United States war against piracy
LL: The United States is currently at the centre of the Intellectual Property enforcement regime, especially in its war against piracy. The US often equates piracy with terrorism, etc. Yet the title of your 2004 book is somewhat playful: Trade Secrets: Intellectual Property and the Origins of American Industrial Power. Can you tell us a little more about this?
DB-A:The reason I undertook this study is because while I was researching my previous book, I noted the fact that though Americans in the 18thcentury were speaking the language that rejected industrialisation - indeed, the entire American revolutionary project was about rejecting 'evil' Europe - they were also contacting all kinds of mechanics, and violating the laws of European countries so that they could industrialise America. That led me on to an interesting research journey. I did not expect that during the project I would become an 'Intellectual Property sceptic', as I now call myself. I'm not sure if I am a complete one, I don't know... Initially I approached it as do most people who are not specialists.
DB-A: But what I discovered was a very strange American phenomenon. On the one hand you had true commitment to intellectual property in the abstract sense, which is truly innovative. The US is the first nation in the world to require someone who has a patent to have worldwide originality and novelty. On the other hand, while they are working this requirement, they are engaging in the most elaborate and successful project of smuggling technology and pirating forbidden know-how from Europe. The word "Yankee" originated from the Dutch word for smuggler. Nobody knows that. And in fact, "Yankee" ingenuity is a synonym for the great successful American mechanics of the early 19thcentury. It's true that Yankee ingenuity, the ingenuity of being smugglers and pirates, really allowed the US to become a superpower.
1683, a name applied disparagingly by Du. settlers in New Amsterdam (New York) to English colonists in neighboring Connecticut. It may be from Du. Janke, lit. "Little John," dim. of common personal name Jan; or it may be from Jan Kes familiar form of "John Cornelius," or perhaps an alt. of Jan Kees, dial. variant of Jan Kaas, lit. "John Cheese," the generic nickname the Flemings used for Dutchmen. It originally seems to have been applied insultingly to Dutch, especially freebooters, before they turned around and slapped it on the English. A less-likely theory is that it represents some southern New England Algonquian language mangling of English. In Eng. a term of contempt (1750s) before its use as a general term for "native of New England" (1765); during the American Revolution it became a disparaging British word for all American native or inhabitants. Shortened form Yank in reference to "an American" first recorded 1778.
LL: Can you give us a couple of concrete examples of this? What is the technology that the US pirated?
DB-A:Well, the textile industry is the most important example, by far. The story of the textile industry goes back to the middle of the 18thcentury. The English were very aware of the importance of textiles to their industrial power, political power. So they introduced a set of laws that increased the penalties on the diffusion of technology associated with textiles. So much so that it was much more costly to be caught smuggling textile technology than it was to be caught smuggling iron technology, or other kinds. The textile technology was smuggled by a variety of independent Americans, or by Englishmen who violated English laws.
Extract from Trade Secrets: Intellectual Piracy and the Making of Industrial America, Paper presented at Contested Commons: Trespassing Publics
Perhaps the best way to illustrate the situation is by the following vignette. In the second week of November 1787, Phineas Bond, British consul in Philadelphia, received a visit from two English nationals. Thomas Edemsor, a cotton merchant from Manchester, and Henry Royle, a calico printer from Chadkirk in Cheshire County, were greatly distressed. They feared lynching at the hands of a mob led by the city's leading merchants and they looked to the envoy of His Britannic Majesty's government for shelter. Their story went as follows: In 1783, concurrent with British recognition of American independence, an Englishman named Benjamin H. Phillips set out to establish a cotton manufactory in America. In spite of severe restrictions on the exportation of textile machinery and the emigration of skilled artisans, Phillips purchased a carding machine and three spinning machines in England, packed them disassembled into crates declared to British customs to contain Wedgwood china, and boarded the U.S. ship Liberty at Liverpool bound for Philadelphia. He had earlier sent his son to the U.S. capital in anticipation of the machinery's arrival. The elder Phillips died before reaching America and his son received the crates, but lacking his father's knowledge of the machinery he could not reassemble the equipment. He then sold it to another Englishmen, Joseph Hague, who managed to assemble it but could not make it work properly. Having no capital and despairing of the operating expenses, in the spring of 1787, Hague sold the equipment to Royle, who in turn sold it to Edemsor. Edemsor once again disassembled the four machines and shipped them back to England. According to his testimony, he patriotically purchased and repatriated the equipment "to Check the Advancement of the Cotton Manufactory in America."
In the meantime, a group of Philadelphia merchants, concerned with advancing the cause of U.S. economic independence form Britain to complement the nation's newly found political independence, formed "The Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts." The group had instigated a search for Hague's machinery and became infuriated upon learning of its repatriation by Royle and Edemsor. The merchants' wrath turned on the British culprits, who "in great dread of suffering from their Resentment," went into hiding for several weeks. Finally, the fugitives approached Bond for protection, and, in Royle's case, for money to secure passage back to England. Shocked by the fanatic zeal of "the American Seduction of British Machines and Artisans" and convinced of the real danger of violence his compatriots faced from the leading men of Philadelphia in their quest to acquire "the industrial secrets of the Old World," Bond paid the fare for Royle and his family out of his own pocket. When the Society learned of Royle's and Edemsor's escape, its leaders publicly rebuked and insulted the British consul.
Not intimidated, Bond set about investigating the incident. His inquiries led him to focus on the slippery character of Hague, who had left the city and was rumored to be back in England attempting to procure more equipment for illegal exportation to America. He notified the British foreign office that Hague might be found for arrest in Derbyshire, but by the time the authorities arrived there Hague was gone. He reappeared in Philadelphia the following spring, having successfully smuggled over a new cotton-carding machine. Adding insult to injury, the Pennsylvania legislature awarded him a prize of $100.00 on October 3, 1788 for having succeeded in his piracy. The Manufacturing Society trumpeted the achievement in the press and showed little concern for the subject of intellectual property, "It is with great pleasure we learn" it announced, "that the ingenious Artizan, who counterfeited the Carding and Spinning Machine, though not the original inventor (being only the introducer) is likely to receive a premium from the Manufacturing Society, besides a generous prize for his machines; and that it is highly probable our patriotic legislature will not let his merit pass unrewarded by them. Such liberality must have the happy effect of bringing into Pennsylvania other useful Artizans, Machines, and Manufacturing Secrets which will abundantly repay the little advance of the present moment."
The Bond affair is one among many that I chronicle in my book. Those in the U.S who whine about the current state of affairs conveniently forget that two hundred years ago the shoe was on our foot. American prosperity originated in the piracy of industrial technologies from Europe, primarily England, to the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century. The process took place in spite of a concerted effort by the English government to keep their trade secrets at home.
Prohibitions on the emigration of artisans and the exportation of machinery from the British Empire had been in effect throughout the eighteenth century. In the mid 1770s, as the imperial conflict took shape, Parliament ruled that all people leaving for the North American colonies from the British Isles and Ireland with intent to settle there were required to pay £50 per head. After the United States won its independence, growing anxiety in Britain over industrial piracy prompted stronger legislation and stricter enforcement. Exporting industrial equipment from textile, leather, paper, metals, glass and clock making was prohibited in the 1780s. The restrictions were particularly comprehensive in all that was connected with the textile industry, covering existing as well as future developments. Robert Owen, recalling his early days in England's textile industry, reported that in the 1780s the "cotton mills were closed against all strangers, and no one was admitted. They were kept with great jealousy against all intruders: the outer doors being always locked." A £200 fine, forfeiture of equipment, and twelve months' imprisonment (or a £500 fine and forfeiture in the case of textile machinery) were laid down for the export or attempted export of industrial machinery. The export of steam engines was prohibited temporarily in 1785.
The founders knew of these restrictions, but they believed that for the US to survive politically and economically it must close the technology gap. And fast. Framers of the US Constitution unanimously approved Article I, section 8 which instructed the new government "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writing and discoveries." The Founding Fathers decided to provide a mechanism by which individual inventors and authors were rewarded for enriching American society with new devices or writings. Inventors and writers were the only occupational groups given special benefits in the United States Constitution. It is the only section of the US Constitution that specifies not only the responsibility of the future form of government, but also the strategy it should use to attain that goal.
A bill to establish a patent system was introduced at that first historical session of the United States Congress, but did not reach the floor. The initial proposal followed the English system enacted to attract superior European craftsmen to the kingdom. Men who introduced technological innovations hitherto unknown in England were rewarded with production monopolies. Likewise, in the proposed American bill introducers received patents of importation and enjoyed all the privileges of original inventors. The President, eager to expedite matters, addressed the issue in his first annual message in January 1790. Washington requested the enactment of legislation encouraging "skill and genius" at home and "the introduction of new and useful invention from abroad."
The dominant political figure of the Washington administration, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, shared these sentiments. Hamilton deplored American dependency on European imports. Only the development of an indigenous industrial economy could liberate the nation's economy from the British hold. He ascribed the difficulties of American manufacturing to technological deficiencies and wrote that the gap between Europe and the United States would diminish "in proportion to the use which can be made of machinery." He called on the Federal government to establish some "auxiliary agency" to coordinate the piracy of European technology. He proposed to market America's industrialization in Europe so that skilled workers might be induced to circumvent national restrictions on artisans' immigration. He proposed encouraging industrial immigration by offering travel subsidies for artisans and exempting from customs for their tools, implements of trade, and household goods. The "public purse must supply the deficiency of private resources," he declared, for "as soon as foreign artists be made sensible that the state of things here affords a moral certainty of employment and encouragement – competent numbers of European workmen will transplant themselves, effectively to ensure the success of the design." The industrialization of the United States, Hamilton concluded, would "in a great measure trade upon a foreign stock."
Congress set out to write an American patent bill that will conform to the sentiments of Washington and Hamilton. The House of Representatives produced a version granting introducers of pirated technology the monopoly privileges accorded to original inventors. The Senate however, amended the bill to grant patent monopolies only to inventors of machines "not before known or used" and deleted the location qualifier of the house version--"within the United States." The elimination of these four words was revolutionary. The first United States Patent Act broke with the European tradition of patents of importation. It restricted patents exclusively to original inventors and established the principle that prior use anywhere in the world was grounds for invalidating a patent. This criterion is particularly puzzling because the young nation needed to import technology to develop its industrial base. Moreover, the two most important members of the Washington administration, the President and Alexander Hamilton, supported granting patents of importation.
The sheer volume of applications made the first patent act an administrative nightmare. In 1793 Congress relieved members of the cabinet from wasting their time examining individual patents and assigned the duty to a clerk in the State department. A patent became a registration of a claim anyone could make provided he paid the $30.00 fee, and that no similar claim was previously registered. Acquiring a patent depended exclusively on prompt completion of the necessary bureaucratic paperwork. The revised system maintained the dual demand for novelty and originality by requiring each patentee to take an oath that he/she was indeed the first and original inventor. The disputes likely to arise from this strictly bureaucratic registration were to be resolved by a board of arbitrators and the courts. A revision in 1800 added the requirement of an oath by all applicants to the effect that their "invention, art or discovery hath not … been known or used either in this or any foreign country."
DB-A: In the early years after the US Constitution was formed, three men got patents for the Arkwright machinery itself; ironically, none of them did particularly well with that patent. Meanwhile, the most successful pirate of English textile technology was Robert Lowell. He was a sickly American - from a very well-connected Massachusetts family, it always helps - who travelled to England in 1811. He asked his hosts to be allowed to see the factories in Manchester. They had a policy of not allowing anybody in, but they made an exception in his case, assuming that this sickly American was no threat. He looked around, and in the evening he made notes. He came back to America, used his connections, got investors, founded what came to be known as the Boston Associates. He would die quickly thereafter, but his partners would use the system that he had recorded in Manchester. It's not only knowledge of the machine that does the carding, but the process, how it's integrated. That's what he really transferred. The partners established a town and named it after him; Lowell, Massachusetts became the centre of textile manufacturing in the US, and a great rival to English manufacturing. It became so famous that Charles Dickens - who came to America in the 1840s to protect his literary pieces from being pirated by Americans, and had very little of anything positive to say about America, he was utterly uncharmed by it - actually commented, "If you compare this to what we have in England, this is really the good face of industrialisation."
LL: When Larry Lessig talks about the early history of American piracy in his book Free Culture, he points out that at that time you didn't have the existence of a multinational IP regime, hence the US was not really violating any laws, since their national laws did not prohibit piracy. How do
you respond to this kind of an argument?
DB-A: I would respond in three ways. I've encountered this from lawyers before. First, I'm interested in issues that are more common sense. From the common sense perspective, I don't find this argument particularly compelling. It's true that Lessig would probably win a case in court, the law is its own enclosed system. The second thing I would say is that the US violated its own laws because the patent law required novelty and originality that was worldwide. By not only failing to enforce it, but also by actually encouraging the violation of it, the US did violate its own laws. Third, the US violated the laws of other countries.
From Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture
All across the world, but especially in Asia and Eastern Europe, there
are businesses that do nothing but take others people's copyrighted
content, copy it, and sell it—all without the permission of a copyright
owner. The recording industry estimates that it loses about $4.6 billion
every year to physical piracy1 (that works out to one in three CDs sold
worldwide). The MPAA estimates that it loses $3 billion annually
worldwide to piracy.
This is piracy plain and simple. Nothing in the argument of this
book, nor in the argument that most people make when talking about
the subject of this book, should draw into doubt this simple point:
This piracy is wrong.
Which is not to say that excuses and justifications couldn't be made
for it. We could, for example, remind ourselves that for the first one
hundred years of the American Republic, America did not honor foreign
copyrights.We were born, in this sense, a pirate nation. It might
therefore seem hypocritical for us to insist so strongly that other developing
nations treat as wrong what we, for the first hundred years of our
existence, treated as right.
That excuse isn't terribly strong. Technically, our law did not ban
the taking of foreign works. It explicitly limited itself to American
works. Thus the American publishers who published foreign works
without the permission of foreign authors were not violating any rule.
The copy shops in Asia, by contrast, are violating Asian law. Asian law
does protect foreign copyrights, and the actions of the copy shops violate
that law. So the wrong of piracy that they engage in is not just a
moral wrong, but a legal wrong, and not just an internationally legal
wrong, but a locally legal wrong as well.
True, these local rules have, in effect, been imposed upon these
countries. No country can be part of the world economy and choose
not to protect copyright internationally.We may have been born a pi-
rate nation, but we will not allow any other nation to have a similar
DB-A: It's true that the international state system we have today, with its coercive powers, is not up to the task. But really, you cannot overlook the fact that American policy makers knew what they were doing, they orchestrated it. My research includes numerous admissions from the leading politicians of America testifying to an awareness that what they are doing is violating the law of European countries. Those laws have existed since time immemorial. The idea of a fluid individual moving around the world is a modern notion. The individual earlier was very much rooted in his community. He had to get a permit to travel. He couldn't just get up and leave. Who owned the knowledge? The origin of the knowledge: was it a defined origin? Did it originate with an individual, with a collective? All those kinds of things evolved... And the US was very quick to capitalise on the cracks in the international state system, and on the great calamity in Europe, the French revolutionary wars which, after all, drowned Europe in blood for 23 years. So in fact, all these things allowed the US to jump ahead.
LL: If intellectual property piracy was at the heart of the making of early America, there is also really a way in which IP piracy is at the heart of the making of the American contemporary. It narrates itself as a creative nation, it almost takes on the burden of being a leader in creativity, etc. It completely narrates itself only within the terms of property and capitalism. Would you think of a supplemental kind of book that looks at the contemporary, and the contemporary myths which pervade the American imagination of creativity...?
DB-A: I think these books are being written, very much so, by people like Larry Lessig, rather wonderful critics of the current state of IP law. I would say that in the US, however, there is an absence of discourse about the way that IP is being used to gain unfair advantage; how it uses American power in the world to force nations like India - as we sit in Delhi today, we hear reports about the Indian new patent regulation which would give up generics, which is quite alarming to most of us - to succumb to American pressure.
DB-A: I think much more needs to be done to raise this issue. And I think the American position is ultimately self-defeating because the US, like most empires, is now infected with hubris. Greater empires have fallen. And the hubris of power is making the American public utterly indifferent to what the rest of the world thinks of them, of American policy. There is this self-righteous argument that the rest of the world is just envious, therefore does not like to play fair. And by fair, Americans mean the literal interpretation of economic systems. Intellectual property is a central component of that, given the fact that most industry now takes place outside the US, given the fact that software development is taking place in Israel, Ireland, India...What these companies have going for them is their IP. That's the source of their wealth and knowledge. That is why IP has become the most important element of the modern corporation.
LL: I'm interested in an element you just talked about, in terms of the form of the corporation, the form of the modern property regime, where increasingly the agency of people is constantly becoming a lot sharper. Whereas in the older system of manufacture, there was still some control - not necessarily just over the IP but also the know-how, the technology in its embeddedness - given the fact that manufacturing was still happening in the US. In today's economic scenario, given the outsourcing of manufacture, there is hardly any of it taking place in the domestic context. So on
the one hand you have an artificial IP regime that sustains a kind of power relations between different countries, and on the other hand you have a lot of technology that bleeds into spaces where it otherwise would not have. Where do you think this conflict will take us?
DB-A:Well, I think the American story actually gives us hope on this score. That's where historians come in handy, and lawyers not so much. What happens is that if you've studied American law and American cases, you could be under the impression that America was not a pirating nation in the early 19thcentury.
DB-A: Similarly, what could give us hope is the fact that enforcement is really not in the hands of the authorities who are in Brussels or New York: enforcement is at the local level. Not even, say, in Delhi, but who knows where, in some local site...In the American case, local enforcement simply nullified those Enlightenment-liberal claims. I am not willing to do away with IP, because I do consider it, at times, a wise policy for development; never property, but a wise system if properly limited. If you have that properly checked while you have spotty enforcement: this is the winning combination that allowed America to prosper. And I think this is the combination that really is making things work in India and China and Brazil. Yes, they are signing the TRIPS agreement. Yes, they are making these legal concessions. But are they really going to go after all the pirates? I'm originally from Israel, which is referred to in some circles as a 'one-disk state': in the sense that once the software arrives, it is 'one disk', everybody has it. Enforcement cannot catch up with this ingenuity. I think this is a cause for optimism. The bright side of this is that the enforcement of laws is very often wanting.
Field Notes of an Interview with a Police Inspector in charge of Copyright Raids
18.05.06 Interview with SI Ram Ganesh, IPR section, EOW Branch, -
I met the ACP- S.D. Kapoor. After many attempts on the phone I finally decided to just land up at his office. He was not in. After about an hour, he turned up. I sent in my card and was summoned in a bit. He was doing something on a computer and had his back turned to me. After a quick look over his shoulder to register my presence, he maintained a stiff back and never turned to look at me again. He asked me what I wanted and after I had gone over my spiel, he went quiet for a few minutes as he was still doing something on his computer.
He then asked me, again, what I wanted. ¬ìInterview¬î, I said and followed it up with a more servile ¬ìI wanted a few minutes of your time¬î. He asked me where I was from. So I went over my spiel again. He went silent for another few minutes.
I realised that we were getting nowhere, and so told him that I could come back when he had some time to spare. He said ¬ìHahn, today we are all busy, you see we are all in Court¬î. Looking for a quick exit I asked him if there were any of his officers who I could speak to. Again he said, you see we are all in Court. But he told me that all the SI.s would return at around 5.30. So I thanked him and fixed up with someone from his office to meet one of the SI.s at 5.30 that evening and left.
I turned up at 5.30 and was directed to SI Balram, who was more than a little surprised by my presence. So I was asked to sit down, paani pilaya and he proceeded to go about his business while I waited patiently. He was trying to send mail and was trying to figure out whether Chennai was spelt with a single n or double. While I was waiting, water began to drip from the ceiling right next to where I was sitting. Finally after about a good half hours wait, he asked hahnji kya chahtey ho aap?
I gave him my standard introduction and then began:
Yeh IPR section EOW main kab sey bana hai Delhi Police main?
Yeh EOW 1991 kareeb sey chal raha hain aur humara alag sey IPR section 1998 sey chal raha hain.
Total kitney log ho aap IPR section main?
Hum log 3 Sub-Inspectors hain-Humara incharge DCP hain aur overall
incharge ACP hain.
Sirf theen purey IPR section Key
Aur Aap theen log Copyright, Trademark aur counterfeit goods sab ke kaam
dekhto ho ?
Nahi Trademark section alag hotha hain- Police Headquarters main- ITO ke pass
Humara IPR aur Cyber-crime ka section hain ¬ñ hum zyada thar Copyright key
cases dekhthey hain ¬ñ VCD / DVD pirated software etc. key cases
Tho aapkey pass cases kaisey aathey hain?
Koi Bhi layman complaint kar saktha hain ¬ñ police station main, Police
headquarters main ya humaarey DCP ke pass.
Complaint milney key baad kya procedure hain? Hum unkey saarey documents verify karthey hain aur phir unke saath jaakar ussko seize karte hain.
Kaunsi documents verify karthey ho aap?
Copyright ka registration certificate hum check karthe hain
Aur koi documents check karthey ho aap- agar kissi ke pass registration certificate nahin ho tho kya karthey ho aap?
Kissi ke paas registration nahin hoga tho hum raid kaisey maar sakthey
hain. Registration ke bina copyright kaisi hogi
Pehle tho banda saabit karega na ki cheez uski hain.
Is mein Complainanat ka attorney bhi kaafi hoti hain. Agar kissi ne kissi aur ko authorise kiya ho tho usssey bhi kaam chal jaatha hain.
Hahn aur mainey suna hain ki kaafi complaints attorney key through hi file kiye jaathey hain? Hahn.
Aur usske baad?
Hum complainant ko saath lekey chalthey hain spot ko and seize karthe hain
Phir kya hota hain?
Phir case banthi hain.
Conviction key kya chances hain?
Dusrey cases ke barabar main kya copyright key cases main conviction ke
chances zyaada hain ya kam?
Koi aisi cheez nahin hain. Conviction nahin hoti hain kyonki ek tho jo
cheez hain, woh disputed hoti hain aur jo main point hain woh yeh hain ki
company interest nahin lethi hain. Unka interest jail bhejne thak hi hain.
Kuch mahiney baad company ka interest band ho jaatha hain.
Aur aadmi band kitne din hota hain?
Judge ka satisfaction hain. Jab thak judge chahey.
Lekin maine suna hain ki bail keefi aasaani sey mil jaathi hain aur log andar sirf kuch din hi rehthe hain?
Waisi koi bath nahin. Humne 2 mahiney, dhai mahiney thak andar rakha hain.
Abhi ek case main humney bandhey ko do mahiney thak andar rakha hain. (At
which point he turned to another SI at the next table and asked him Kyon,
thumhare ek case main bhi 2- 3 mahiney andar raha hain na? The other SI
needed his memory jogged a bit and then seemed to remember.
Aur humney suni ki usskey baad Court main phir ladhai hoti hain superdari key time main?
Kyon- superdari main kiss bath ki ladai. Agar hain to hian. Undertaking
leke saamaan ko release kiya jaatha hain.
Tho koi ladai nahin hoti
Agar aadmi saabit nahin kar saktha ki saaman usska hain tho phir case
Nahin humney suna hain ki accused aur company ya complainant ke saath superdari ke time main bhi khoob ladhai hoti hain kyonki accused kehta hain ki saamaan uska hain aur company bhi claim karthi hain Aisa kuch nahin hain. Accused ko saamaan kabhi nahin di jaathi hain.
Lekin kayyee baar humney dekha hain Accused ko claim karthey huey ki saamaan unhone legally khareeda hain ya unhone import kiya hain? Aisa kuch nahin hain. Accused discharge ho, ya acquit ho ya convict bhi ho jaaye ussko seize kiye gaye saamaan kabhi vaapas nahin di jaathi hain.
Lekin agar Accused acquit ya discharge ho jaye tho case property unko vaapas nahin milthi?
Case khatam honey ke baad case property ko destroy kiya jaatha hain.
Dekho jab hum kissi cheez seize karthey hain tho hum full satisfaction
leney ke baad hi ussko seize karthey hain. Aisa nahin ki koi bhi aakey
kissi ka bhi cheez seize karvaaley
At this point I felt that I was getting on his wrong side so I had to
quickly shift once again to safe ground
Pirated CDs kahan sey aathey hain ?
Bangladesh, Nepal, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia sab jagahon sey aathey hain. Humaarey yahan bhi banaye jaathey hain. India main saarey metropolitan cities main milthey hain kyonki demand inka zyaada that yaheen par hoti hain.
Aur shahar key aas paas key gaon main bhi hoti hain. Delhi key aas paas
key saarey gaon main khoob pirated maal bantha hain aur biktha hain and
vahan sey log Dilli bhi leke aathey hain.
Tho raid aapkey vahan bhi padthey hain?
Aas paas key gaon main?
Hahn, hahn- jahan pey aisa maal bantha hain, biktha hain- hum uss sab
jagahon pey raid marthey hain.
Tho vahan pey aapko local police ki madad milthi hain?
Kuch nahin milthi hain.
Lekin jab aap raid maarthey hain tho unko inform karney hi zaroorat nahin hai kya?
Hum kabhi local police ko inform nahin karthey. Hum pehley spot pey raid
marthey hain aur local police ko bulathey hain sirf aga unki
Aap ko alag sey koi training milthi hain ?
Nahin iss cheez ke liye kahe ha training. Hum bas kam karna shuru kar
Aap ke paas kitney cases aathey hain?
Roz cases file hothey hain.
Aur Kitney Court pahunchte hain?
Andazan koi number batha sakthey hain?
Dekho humaarey pass abhi lagbhag 400 cases hain- pending trial. Aur usskey
ilava hum roz 2,3,4 cases bhi file karthey hain.
Koi aisa case hoga jo hum follow kar sakthey hain?
Kyon follow karkey kya karogey?
Humein dekhna tha ki yeh copyright cases ke prosecution kaisey kiye jaathey hain ?
Likho- Kamini Lau ke court main FIR No. 187/04 abhi isski agli thareek
22.09.06 ko hian 0 aur yeh gawahi ke liye hain.
By this time he was growing extremely antsy and had been getting phone
calls throughout our interview. I realised that I was not going to get
much more out of him and so I thanked him for his time and was just
getting up to leave when he told me ¬ìaur thum Sunil Chaudhary ke court
main bhi dekh lena aur R. K. Singh ke court main¬î (Magistrates in Patiala
Throughout the interview he was humoring me. There were points where I felt that I had to placate him, cause he would stop talking otherwise and be even more uncooperative.
A lot of what he said was interesting for its divergence from what I have got from others in interviews. For egs. His insistence that there was no question of copyright without a certificate or in his insistence that there was no question of handing over the seized article to the accused which again we know from experience to be false.
It was a difficult interview because he never allowed me to get a handle
on what was happening. I would ask a question hoping to lead him in one
direction and he would go off in quite another-possibly because of the
huge language / culture gap between us. The transcript is missing some of
the things he said because I just could not understand them. Like when he
was answering my question about who were the complainants, he used some
phrase of which what I picked up was ¬ñ koi apney lugai ko pel key le
..of what I understand is something to the effect of ¬ëonly if
someone steals your wife
LL: How would you distinguish between the kind of IP piracy you're talking about, and the kind of popular piracy that is happening in terms of the digital? I'm asking this because your work is historically situated, hence very interestingly twinned with the history of the nation. But today you have a situation of disembodiedness where the nature of piracy itself is so completely global, commodities travelling on all kinds of networks...How would you look at the difference between what you're doing, and the contemporary context?
DB-A:This is an entirely new problem. One of the most exciting things about this is that the creature called the nation state, which emerged in the 19thcentury and came to dominate our discourse, really is struggling to cope with an emergent world community that creates; a free software movement of some sort. I don't have any idea where it is going. I wish I did. And if I did, I probably would have bought
stock in something! If we can defeat the almost instinctual act of nation states that see issues only within the confines of some artificial boundaries and artificial nationalities...But certainly, what the historical record does show - and here is an important lesson - is that all efforts to restrict the flow of information fail. Those who engage in such restrictions are usually fighting yesterday's battles. For the most part, even in relation to nuclear technology, it's impossible to hold onto those secrets. And therefore, maybe the model that the system operates on
needs to be utterly rethought.
LL: One of the things I find utterly disconcerting about some of the progressive scholarship in the US - I'm referring here particularly to Lessig's take on piracy - is that he imputes a certain normative value to transformative authorship, implying that this is how a pirate "reveals" himself. For Lessig, people on the P2Pnetwork, downloading and mixing their music, are not a problem because they are adding content to the public domain. Yet when it comes to the account of what he terms "Asian piracy", he implies that it adds no value, contributes nothing; for him, this activity is clearly illegal and immoral. How would you respond to that?
DB-A:I'm completely unsympathetic to this line of argument. First of all, it betrays certain cultural lenses even among incredibly brilliant people like Larry Lessig. No doubt he is failing to see the importance of dissemination internationally. What's going on within this "technology of protectionism", as I would term it, is that now American companies are being warned; this is the next move. Last March, Bill Lockyer, the Attorney-General of California, sent a letter to companies developing programmes that had to do with file-sharing, saying that they should be aware that their products could be used to perform "illegal" activities, in which they would be implicated and for which they could be sued.
DB-A: That kind of logic is similar to warning the car manufacturer that the car is going to kill someone in an accident. It's an absurd argument. But it goes beyond that. It demonstrates a state of mind that fails to recognise the importance of the free flow of information to development, to human progress. I'm not hesitant about using a term such as "human progress". And I think that if there's a lesson of the last five hundred years, it is that the sharing of ideas and processes and technologies is not a zero-sum game, but does benefit all. The entire premise of the patent was not founded on rewarded innovation. The patent laws were created in 14th-century England, when it was a backward nation and the English monarchy wanted European artisans to come and bring with them more sophisticated producing techniques. And so they established a patent law. This law was for pirates, because those artisans were not allowed to leave their places.
DB-A: In Venice, for instance, the glass manufacturers were locked up on the island of Morano, so that they could not run away with the Venetian glass technology. Even as late as the 18thcentury, the competing claim of an English manufacturer and a pirate was resolved in favour of the pirate, in an English court. So, suddenly in the late 18thcentury we come up with IP as a sort of Lockean triangle of life, liberty and property. Where did it come from? It just makes no sense! I think that American academics, specially prominent ones like Larry Lessig, are very careful these days not to appear too radical; because if they do, the public is not receptive. Unfortunately, we live in an incredibly conservative environment. But I don't accept the notion that copying in Asia is 'bad' piracy and that my child downloading via Kazaa is 'good' piracy. One could make distinctions between consumer piracy and process piracy, which is utterly different. Process piracy does lead to further production, and consumer piracy means that my son doesn't have to pay $18 for a CD because he downloads music from Kazaa.
LL: Do you feel your work has propelled you to take a certain kind of activist stance/perspective/role that a historian normally wouldn't have to take? Where do you fit your work? It can, for instance, be used by countries like India to point a finger back at the US...
DB-A:I have certainly been politicised and radicalised by my research. And I had no intention of being so. Historians usually shy away from relevance! It's actually very nice, the way my work has been received well outside the US, without any marketing, which is incredibly flattering. And I would say that I have changed, there's no doubt. For me to be whole-heartedly involved at this conference is a wonderful thing. I feel I understand the current debate much more now. I think that for whatever reason, the IP policy group is far more successful in conveying a sense that it is an absolute must to see things their way. They say, "Yes, there are some excesses, like Mickey Mouse getting another twenty years. Okay, that's too much." But the kind of work I've done has shown me that the fundamental premises on which this beast rests are terribly shaky.