Copyright Controversy Over Dr. B.R.Ambedkar’s Work

To celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar the Centre wants to re-publish his original collected work of Bhimrao Ambedkar’s “Sampoorn Dandmay” (writings and speeches). However, the Centre’s plans have been dampened by the copyright tussle involving the aforementioned work. The Centre is facing some strict opposition from Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar who is the copyright holder and who has refused to allow printing of the original collected works in English.

Earlier the Maharashtra government signed an agreement with Prakash Ambedkar to print the collected work of Bhimrao Ambedkar but the said agreement expired in the 1990s. The permission was granted by the Union Ministry of Social Justice And Empowerment allowing the Ambedkar foundation to re-publish the collected works in English in 2013. Around 1000 copies were printed by the foundation but it was stopped in 2014, following the objections raised by the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Source Material Publication Committee with respect to the government of Maharashtra granting permission to the Centre

Since then the Centre wrote several letters and filed RTI applications to seek permission for re-publishing Bhimrao collected works since 2014 from the Maharashtra government. where the deadline for the Centre to complete the re-publishing of work was till April 2014.

The higher and technical education department, in a letter dating back to 2014, July, said “reprinting of the works of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar by third party leads to the violation of the copyrights and these copyrights are with the Government of Maharashtra. Therefore it was decided to take legal opinion in such matters. So you are requested to stop reprinting of the said material and any other action related to this case immediately.”

The original collected work of Bhimrao Ambedkar is protected under the copyright act for the period of 60 years from the date of his death i.e. from December 6, 1956 onward and such protection is applicable till December 2016 which means that the Centre is not allowed to re-publish it unless allowed by Prakash Ambedkar, the copyright holder.

However, the permission for re-publication from the Maharashtra government and Prakash Ambedkar who is the copyright holder of the work is still awaited and if the permission is not given for re-publication to the Centre then they have to wait till January 2017 when the term for copyright protection lapses.  

Authored by Ajay Nagesh

Sources- here and here

Image Source/Attribution here, the image is the public domain.


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