PLAIGIARISM OR PIRACY – THE GREATER SIN?

Piracy – The act of plagiarizing; taking someone’s words or ideas as if they were your own ; WordWeb Dictionary.


Which is worse? The act of stealing someone’s product without legitimately paying for it and consuming it (or) The act of stealing someone’s product and claiming it as your own?

Most people, I would say, is the latter. Every year, the Tamil film Industry suffers losses to the tunes of crores of Rupees. This is an indisputable fact. Whether there is a solution to this or not is questionable, but how many people in the Industry have a right to stake that claim on ethical grounds?

It is one thing to take inspirations and make films, especially those that are mythological and derived from our culture. Most of the original works and their copyrights have expired long time ago. Works of Epics like Mahabharatha and Ramayana have been adapted by ManiRathnam. The legendary story of Friendship between Krishna and Kuchela has been retold several times, most recently being adapted by Director Vasu for the Film ‘Kuselan’, but what about adaptations from contemporary works, which technically are copyrighted to someone else?

When a Director who has used short ‘Stories’ from Tinkle Digest from the 90s, for atleast two scenes in two different films ( Yes, Tinkle Digest) in a humourous capacity, and then cries ‘Piracy!!!’, most certainly, my sympathies will not go with him. [ I clearly remember reading the stories, but I am looking to trace them. The database of Tinkle Digest is obviously quite huge.]

Some songs have literally been ‘Xerox’ed. Even as early as 2006-07, websites like itwofs.com have been documenting instances of Music Plagiarism in Indian music. Inspirt of this, this trend continues. Off late, a Viral message ripped a recent movie to the Bone, and compared it with the Film ‘MidNight Express’ ( A film which I have not seen. But anyone who saw the video would get an inkling of what has ‘allegedly’ happened.) News Reports online show that the Producer of the Film has issued a show cause notice to the Director of their film.

The Word ‘Plaigiarism’ is an extremely subjective word. It falls on the grey line with words like ‘Inspiration’, ‘Co-incidence’ or even ‘Tribute’. This was also the case for one of the trends that happened a few years ago, when a few music Directors, in the names of re-mixes tore and destroyed the natural soul of a few Original songs, much to the chagrin of the music composers, who had neither been consulted nor had been credited.

And then K.Bhagyaraj alleged that one of his movies ‘Indru Poi Naalai Vaa’ had been ripped off by a comedian. Anyone who has seen both these movies, will know the truth, that its not a word for word translation. The contexts are very different, but what about the soul of the film? The depth of the characters, the relationships between them in moving the screenplay and the story forward. How do they match? I think in my view, that is what differentiates Plagiarism from the other words.

I want to take Aranmanai and ‘Aayiram Jenmangal’ as an example. Off late, I had met Director.Pasi Durai, and I had discussed this issue with him. I had no knowledge then that the producers had apparently filed a case. It is irrelevant to discuss here, what the final outcome of the case is. But, when I look at the comparison, I inevitably get the same feel here.

Aayiram Jenmangal is a more serious film, while Aranmanai is a typical, laugh riot, by Director Sundar C. The settings of the films are different. There are more side characters in Aranmanai, that add to its humour, which are not there in Aranmanai. But, what is the soul of the Film – Aayiram Jenmangal?

A man and a lady are in love. The lady dies under tragic circumstances, and the man has no idea what happens to his lady love. Over a period of time, he meets a new woman, falls in love with her, and gets married to her. The Brother of the Wife comes to meet his sister and brother in law, and they travel to some place, where some strange things happen. The soul of the original lover, enters the body of the Wife. They must conjugally mate for a night and live as Husband and Wife. If this happened, the Ghost ( Spirit of the Dead Girl) would permanently remain inside the body of the wife. The Brother comes to know about this. It is his duty now to ensure that his brother-in-law does not spend a night and do not conjugally meet for a certain number of days, in order to save his sister.

This is the story of Aayiram Jenmangal. I do not wish to make a comment about ‘Aranmanai’, but my view on one thing is clear.

Film Makers who consciously indulge in Plagiarism, off any sort, should simply better stop adding #KillPiracy to their Twitter Tweets.

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‘Giving Due Credits for Inspirations’ – Lessons that our Modern Movie Makers can Learn..

Very Often, in recent times, we have seen Movie Makers exposed brutally thanks to easy access of Foreign and International Movies thanks to the Internet, leaving many script writers, music directors and Movie Directors shamelessly exposed. But the act continues to happen.

Here, are a couple of yesteryear movies, that have clearly mentioned their influence and inspirations for the making of their movie. The first one is the legendary movie , ‘Ezhai Padum Paadu’ starring Chittor.V.Nagaiah and Actress Padmini made in the 1950s. The second one is the movie ‘Punniya Bhoomi’ directed by Commercial Director K.Vijayan, who was particularly successful in the 1970s. (K.Vijayan also directed the movie based on famed writer JayaKanthan’s book ‘Kai Vilungu’ as the movie ‘Kaaval Deivam’)


4 5

vlcsnap-2015-06-29-23h37m30s804 Titles of the Movie – ‘Kodeeswaran’ starring Sivaji Ganesan and Padmini.


How Free Flow of Copyrighted Information via API culture, brings Positivity and increased benefits in a Globalized World?

In an earlier post, I had spoken about how ‘Free Flow of Text information’ via various pipes in the Internet, through API based Authentication was extremely beneficial to all players in the Ecosystem. Most of the information in that example was Text, and although a large portion of the Text was Copyrighted ( others were licensed under Creative Commons), Piracy related abuse of Copyrighted Text published over the Internet from websites ( not from Published Books), are far too few. If at all there is piracy of text sourced from a website, it could be more of a case of Plaigiarism rather than Piracy. 

Now, let us extend that logic further, and see how the benefits of Free flow of Information, even if it copyrightable (Music in this case) and has a larger potential of Piracy, yet by allowing the same information to flow freely via sharing, can create a contradicting Positivity in the Ecosystem. I have localized the context here to a simple example of Tamil cinema, since it is an underlying motif of this blog.

I have consciously written this post here for several reasons.

The understanding of the ‘Free and Share’ culture via API, or otherwise, forms an important portion in the yet to be released book – “Kill The Pirate – The Quest for John Doe”, which will soon be released under a Creative Commons license via this blog, that deals with the challenges that Tamil cinema faces as a Microcosm of overall Global Internet Piracy.

This blog allows me the freedom to share media under a ‘Fair Usage Policy’, even if it is copyrighted, so, readers who read and understand this simple video example will easily understand the context at the relevant portion in the book, and that i may not have the same freedom to publish the media file along with the book, as I have here.

Another important reason is that the Internet has been strongly accused of increasing the quantum and scale of Piracy, compared to the earlier days of Disc Based Piracy. This is very much true, but represents only one side of the picture. But what is seldom spoken about is, that the Internet has also opened up both localized and International markets, which were not accessible in the older Analog and Nascent Digital years, and that possibly explains why some of the 100, 200 crore+ movies made in India, are economically viable, today.

A short understanding of this video helps understand that while Technology over the Internet can also spread piracy, at the same time, it can also bring lots of positivity, and boost sales of the legitimate ecosystem, via sharing of Information Flow.

[ Apologies for the low quality Video File, as I had to downsize the larger HQ video and upload a low Quality File as i did not have enough Bandwidth].

In this video, You can initially see that the FM radio App is turned on and a live Broadcast of a Tamil song is playing from somewhere in the middle. A user who hears this song for the first time, and who likes it and wants to listen to again, may not find it possible, in the old era. This can also be true of users who are listening to music of other cultures and languages for the first time.

The FM radio App has already a built-in API integration with SoundCloud  SoundHound. So, as the song plays, I press the App button, which diverts the live feed into a parallel pipe ( while the original pipe continues playing the song), which takes the feed into SoundCloud’s servers which process the information, this parallel sound is converted into a digital fingerprint which is transmitted into SoundHound’s servers. On processing the information, SoundHound matches the information with its reference files and returns to the user the Meta Data details of the playing song. In this case, it was a song sung by Janaki, composed by Ilaiyaraja and starred KamalHassan.

SoundCloud SoundHound also provides links to YouTube and other places, where the song can be purchased legitimately. The Copyright holder still continues to own the copyright, but the Free Flow of (Copyrighted) information has in this case, made the possibility of converting an unknown user into a fan, and a possibility of diverting him towards purchasing legitimate consumption of Music.

You can also see YouTube’s automated Content ID system in action here –

YouTube's_ContentID_System