PAD.MA Launch: Presentation on License by Namita A. Malhotra
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This presentation dealt with open licenses for content, and in specific with the Pad.ma license. The Pad.ma license was formulated specifically to deal with the needs of putting up video content in the Indian context and also the licenses for annotation of content.
The terms and conditions for using Pad.ma can be seen at
Bishaka: Before we actually close this session - just a couple of things - we are going to take a short break for 20 minutes and would like to invite all of you to browse pad.ma. We have a bunch of terminals setup at the back, there's one as we go out. We will also serve tea, snacks, and refreshments at this time, so please - but before you go, there's a couple of things we want to tell you about what's next on the agenda --
Bishaka: After the 20 minute break, we would really like everyone to come back for a short session, where we will look at three things - one is Namita will make a short presentation on licensing and the legal frame-work surrounding pad.ma. Sanjay Bhangar will make a short presentation where he will tackle Frequently Asked Questions, etc. and then I'm sure all of you have questions you want to ask - and you may have some more questions that come up as you browse through pad.ma, so if you could save those questions, we will also take a few questions right at the end before we pack up this evening. But before you go, one last thing we want to do right now..
Bishaka: You've seen some of the pad.ma team up in front - there are many more people here who are the annotators and are very much part of the pad.ma team. So I would like to actually read out their names and thank them and acknowledge that they're an integral part of pad.ma. Abhishikta Bhattacharya, Ridhi D'cruz, Ketaki Desai, Monica James, Varun Rajiv, Jayashree, Hansa, Ranjit, Tarshia, Meenu. Thank you so much and shall we all go have some tea and play with pad.ma?
Shaina: The real back-end, and the lifeline, Jan Gerber. ::applause:: Get up!
Bishaka: Works with the Alternative Law Forum, and I actually know her more for her work on media that she's been doing for the last 3-4 years. And for her writings on pornography, Namita..
Hi everyone, I'm Namita as has already been stated, and I'm shocked you stayed back. I dont know whether I should say - obviously you guys don't have a life, but anyway, you're welcome, and I'm really glad you did - especially for the legal part of the presentation (Shaina heckles) - never mind .
general public license
intellectual property law
open content licenses
The other thing that I wanted to mention - there was actually someone's wallet that was missing, I hope that person got their wallet back. The other thing I wanted to say was that there are these comics that are lying around which are three(?) comics on copyright, patents, and trademarks, that were produced by ALF about 2 years ago, and they are somewhat emblematic of the spirit of why we're here today - they're pirated comics, they're versions of the comics produced by the World Intellectual Property Organization, which talk about the importance of copyright, especially to creative people, and especially to film-makers. What these (our) comics do is take the same images and re-use them --- <tape cut> ...
A lot of the material in this presentation is also part of the essay by Lawrence Liang on Copyright, Cultural Production and Open Content Licensing, published by the Piert Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. This is available on
The essay also explores the legal framework of copyright law from a conceptual and philosophical framework, historically tracing the roots of authorship embedded in the birth of the printing industry.
Which was the Microsoft End-User License ...
microsoft end user license
The first thing I'm going to show is examples of a few restrictive licenses, which very clearly state that you are not allowed to use or modify this material - this is usually with regards to software and in some cases content, and other kinds of material. From that, I will be going on to some kind of information about what licenses are - what they originally mean, the etymology of it, the kind of history of what license probably actually meant in terms of anybody who has a copyright, which was to give permission to other people to do things with it, but how in a contemporary age what has happened that the very mechanism through which you were supposed to get permission to do something with someone else's work becomes a sort of contract that you enter into simply by clicking the "I Agree" button, which we all do kind of almost thoughtlessly - simply by clicking that button and the collusion of the logic of contract, and in the strange way that licenses are permissioned, what we ended with is a stringent Copyright and Licensing regime.
The GNU GPL (General Public License) can be viewed at
So, the first thing that I will show is a kind of friendly license in a digital garden - that is a take-off, again, on the kinds of licenses that are already in place. Again here, the hotmail end-user license which clealy states what you are not allowed to do - again, a software license that clearly states that you cannot reverse-engineer, decompile,or disassemble the software product, and the sample license from the Disney site which asked people to submit their ideas and their drawings and concepts for, i think, a competition, but eventually endeed up saying that Disney will hereafter own all known or existing rights to the submissions of every kind and nature throughout the universe, and shall be entitled to unrestricted use of the submissions for any purpose whatsoever.
Many artists have used images from Disney Corporation in their work. One of the most famous ones is Wally Wood's 'Disneyland Memorial Orgy'
You can view it at
This license points toward the draconian regime that has come into place - this particular image is taken from an actual Disney comic, and was, again, re-worked, similar to what we did with the WIPO comics.
So, basically, very briefly, I'm going to run through what I already just states - that a license in terms of its etymology, and where are we nowadays without mentioning etymology at least twice in an evening, and, in latin, the word comes from Liscea(?), or literally, it means permission. It was probably originally supposed to mean a limited grant of a right to use a commodity under specific terms and conditions.
The online etymology dictionary has this to say about licenses/license:
licence Look up licence at Dictionary.com
1362, "liberty (to do something), leave," from O.Fr. licence, from L. licentia "freedom, liberty, license," from licentem (nom. licens). prp. of licere "to be allowed, be lawful," from PIE base *leik- "to offer, bargain." Meaning "formal (usually written) permission from authority to do something" (marry, hunt, drive, etc.) is first attested 1433. Meaning "excessive liberty, disregard of propriety" is from c.1450. The verb is first attested 1398. Licence is preferred for the noun, license for the verb, on model of advice/advise, etc
One must be cautioned though that the online etymology dictionary is not always reliable.
If one looks at how one understood how we used to buy a book - and how we now buy a DVD, or software, then the difference becomes quite clear. Once you buy a book, at least until ten years ago - you bought it, you used to, you read it, you wrote on the margins as Coleridge did, and you also lent it out to friends - if you were the kind of person, you probably setup a lending library - if you were, say CED, you took newspaper clippings and put up a library without thinking whether or not ... Because you had bought the book or you had bought the newspaper and now you owned it, and you could do what you wanted with it. But now, when you buy a DVD you know very clearly you are not going to setup a lending library. You do lend it to your friends, but you also to some extent can see that there is a notice on it that tells you that you are not allowed to do anything but private use of the commodity.
Again, in the case of software, what you're in fact buying is not even the product at all - you're in fact buying the license - the license to use the software is the product that is being bought by you. This can be seen as / is a radical departure from what was originally meant by the word 'license', where it was a sort of permissive expression - it was a thing you gave out to other people. It was probably in fact what we are trying to do today - a license given to other people to use, to reproduce, to distribute, to use in their own works, etc.
A lot of this might be familiar to a few amongst you already - I should rush through this really fast because there's a lot of practical issues about how the website should be used that Sanjay will be talking about, but in terms of a movement away from a stringent licensing and copyright regime was probably first thought of in terms of the GNU GPL, which was designed, as I've already stated, to bring back certain fundamental freedoms that were probably thought of, imagined to some extent, in the original copyright regime - where you were allowed to have certain freedoms with knowledge and you were allowed to be able to copy and distribute, which was sort of restricted later on, and the GNU GPL tried to bring back some of these freedoms with regard to software.
And yes, basically the freedom to run the software for any purpose, to re-write it, to reprogram it, to give out copies, and to freely distribute their improvements to the public. The GNU GPL is in some sense based on an innovative use of copyright rather than an abandonment of it and what essentially we we will be talking about later, also in the context of the pad.ma general license, and in terms of open content licenses as such is that you are entering into this community so to speak - or into pad.ma, or into some other kind of relationship with someone who you give such a license to, which is based on the fact that you do have a copyright over this material.
In that sense, its not an abandonment of the copyright structure - it can hardly do that, even as much as we want to - it does explore it and has an innovative use of it so as to allow us to do things that we feel we should be allowed to do with material. And some of it is also probably in the law in terms of Fair Use structures but are not available to use any more because of technological barriers and other such problems.
So basically the GNU GPL is based on an innovative use of copyright, on ensuring certain freedoms, on making sure that material is not removed from the public domain and to prevent a shrinking of the public domain because of the encroachment of media empires, and especially in the case of code, it is to go with the logic of how code is done, which is basically in some senses like building blocks, or in terms of building upon code that already exists.
So the GPL,which is meant to ensure access rather than restrict people's ability to use, distribute and modify code.. you can see, these are two extracts of licenses that move away from the kind of license that is typified by the Micro$osft license. There is, in some senses, a changge that has taken place within the licenses as well, which you will see as we move along.
In an initial phase, licenses like the free art license, especially in the preamble, used to set out the objective of what the license and what the community that believes in or wants to propagate this license, or the imagined community that the license hopes to bring into place, used a certain language, which, so to speak, is not legal. And how because, progressively, licenses have been challenged in court, have been brought to court, and various issues have to be worked out about whether they can stand up in the court of law. (Licenses) have changed to become progressively more legal in their terminology.
So, the essential battle around open content and free content takes place no longer necessarily within the legal language itself, but outside of it as well.
The most contemporary version of the Free Art License 1.3 today can be found at
In the presentation, what was referred to was the Free Art License 1.2 and the extract discussed is as follows:
"Knowledge and creativity are resources which, to be true to themselves, must remain free, i.e. remain a fundamental search which is not directly related to a concrete application. Creating means discovering the unknown, means inventing a reality without any heed to realism. Thus, the object(ive) of art is not equivalent to the finished and defined art object. This is the basic aim of this Free Art License: to promote and protect artistic practice freed from the rules of the market economy."
free art license
This is another example of a license that is the "Illegal Art Exhibit" website, which again is a take-off on licenses that are stringent and restrictive.
The website for Illegal Art automatically loads an electronic end user license agreement for viewing the website and for use of lumber and/or pet ownership, in a popup window.
You can visit Illegal Art at http://illegal-art.org/
. Though still slanted towards art in the West, it is a remarkable and historical collection of art that has violated legal norms.
The use of humour in art regarding legal regulations for copyright and trademark is significant in many art works including Wally Wood's 'Disneyland Memorial Orgy', Negativeland and others.
The concept behind getting licenses that allow a certain freedom and allow certain permissions to be granted to a large group of people, the imagined community that will use the material that we're talking about, took place because of the idea that we're moving away from where people are passively consuming media to a space where people use and produce media at the same time. Simultaneously, there is a helluva lot of consumption and production of media taking place. Anybody who goes onto Youtube .. Youtube is a bad word to mention, but nonetheless, if one watches the various videos that people have made out of television shows, out of their favourite stars, out of various movies - for instance, there is a specific person on Youtube who has made a brilliant compilation of 63 cat-fights between women in hindi cinema. He has basically clipped all these cat-fights and put them together in one place, which is possibly the best archive of slightly gay moments or queer moments in Indian cinema - probably would be best found on Youtube today.
A playlist for catfights in various hindi, tamil and malayalam movies can be seen at
So basically we're moving away from the idea of a consumer to someone who is more active in their consumption of media and material that is out there. This is possibly also because there is a certain change in the technology - there is a specific digital moment that we're in and that we're talking about with falling prices of media equipment, digital technologies, internet to distribute and connect with other people. At the same time, collaborative processes of production, or even the idea of collaboration being essential to creativity is hardly new, because there are various examples of collaborative art practices and creative practices that are already out there.