Kumar Vishvas the controversial AAP party leader was once against in the center of controversy when he used a poem by the erstwhile notable poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan in one of his segments.
Last week, a song by Mr Vishvas which used as its lyrics a poem by Mr Bachchan's father Harivansh Rai Bachchan was brought to the actor's notice. Mr. Bachchan tweeted to Mr. Vishwas that it was copyright infringement and that 'legal will take care of this' and legal notice was served.
In response, Mr. Vishvas has tweeted that the video is being taken offline and that a sum of Rs. 32 will be paid to Amitabh Bachchan as royalty.
The poem used is titled NeendKaNirmaan, PhirPhir. Kumar Vishvas' song, with the same title as the poem, was uploaded last week on YouTube as part of his programme ‘Tarpan’, from where it was shared with Mr. Bachchan by a fan.
Such instance barely scratches the surface that artists face in India. Before the Copyright Amendment Act, 2012, artists had virtually no rights over their work, lyricist Javed Akhtar, who was then a Rajya Sabha Member, made an impassioned speech about how artists had constantly suffered for decades at the hands of just about everyone and recalled many instances when stalwarts died penniless and in obscurity because of the millions that were rightfully theirs never reached them.
This of course, is another instance where copyright laws is not considered to be a serious issue, even by prominent leaders, who chalk it off as lack of awareness. Many artists and singers are not aware of the copyright boards and the protection offered under the Copyright Act, much less on how royalties work, poets like Kumar Vishvas included.
Protecting your work is up to you. Fluidity in infringing an artist’s right without any assigning any credit, free or royalty exists as a general norm in our country. It is the artists who have to ensure that source of living remains intact. The problem of online is rampant even among the educated youth who obtain pirated movies, songs, books etc. via online streaming.
Awareness about copyright infringement also needs to be accompanied with implications of what the consequences of copyright infringement can be.
There is a segment of viewers who have criticised Amitabh Bachchan for initiating legal action against Kumar Vishvas for using his father’s poem. For his part, Vishwas also believes that he was just being a medium in making the works of great Hindi poets accessible to a newer generation and this is a sentiment that is being echoed by common folk who seem to enjoy Bachchanji’s poetry.
The fact of the matter remains that Kumar Vishvas needs to respect the artist. As an artist himself, and also a social figure, did he not take permission from Bachchanji’s estate to use his works? Of course, it’s fine for Vishvas to say that he got good feedback and appreciation from the families of the other poets that he profiled — but that is a different issue. In art, as in life, one must simply never forget to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.