Aarti on Sun, 24 Apr 2005 15:51:17 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Invitation: Sarai TXT

Dear All,

Over the last six months, a broadsheet is being explored at Sarai for
the circulation of research work being done at and around, and passing
through Sarai.

Welcome to the text version of the bimonthly Sarai TXT, a single sheet

You are invited to participate in discussions around themes which have
been explored so far, on the reader list, and to write to the broadsheet
collective with feedback, ideas and suggestions.

Also, for the joy of holding a print format in your hands (in colour!)
do write to us!!

Looking forward,
the Broadsheet Collective
(Aarti Sethi, Iram Ghufran, Shveta Sarda, Smriti Vohra)

write to: broadsheet@sarai.net


Sarai txt 1.2

15 December 2004- 15 February, 2005

Content of the text version:
(Does not include the poster and back page)


- This Copy is Yours!
- A Question of Standards (by Ravi Agarwal)

- In Bagdadh, Dreaming of Cairo / Essay Review / Reimagining the Public
Domain / David Lange
by Smriti Vohra
- Photocopying (a definitional play)
- Courtspeak: Zee Telefilms Ltd v Sundial Communications Pvt. Ltd.
- FLOSS is not just good for teeth / Free, Libre and Open Source
Explained (finally) in Simple English!
- The School of Good Copying
- To Copy Writings
- Media Spaces: Video Parlours in the city (Mayur Suresh, researcher,
PPHP, Sarai)
- Imitating Life: Painting fish
- Circular: Prototypes
- Terminator Seeds



SIDE 01:

- This Copy is Yours

Pronunciation: 'k=E2pee

[A]bstract out of, act like, act out, adopt, affect, alternate, ape,
appear like, approach, appropriate, approximate, arrange, autograph
[B]ack number, backup, be like, be redolent of, bear resemblance, beat,
block print, blueprint, borrow, bring to mind, buy, [C]all to mind, call
up, carbon copy, caricaturise, chalk out, change, chart, chorus, clone,
collage, collect, color, come again, come close, come near, companion
(be/create a), compare with, compose, copy out, correspond, counterfeit,
counterpart (make), crosshatch, [D]aub, delineate, depict, derive from,
design, diagram, display, ditto (do), do a repeat, do again, do like, do
over, document, doodle, double, draft, draw, draw up, dupe, duplicate,
[E]cho, edit, effigy (make), elevate, emulate, enact, enface, engrave,
engross (yourself), essay, evoke, exact counterpart (make), example,
exchange, [F]abricate, facsimile, fair copy, fake, favor, fellow,
fiction, figure, fill-in, follow, forge, [G]eminate, ghostwrite, go
like, graph, [H]atch, hoke up, [I]conise, identical same (try), idolise,
illuminated (be), illustrate, imagine, imitate, impersonate, impressed
(be), impression (form), imprint, infect, inscribe, issue, [K]nockoff,
[L]ibrary (make own), like, look like, [M]ake commodity, make a
recension, make like, make out, make over, make use of, masquerade as,
match, mate, microcopy, microfilm, mime, mimic, miniaturise, mirror,
mock, model, multiply by two, music (set to), [N]early reproduce, news
item (use as), next best thing (try and find), not tell apart, notate,
number, [O]utline, [P]aint, paint a picture, pantomime, parallel,
paraphrase, parody, parrot, part, partake of, pass for, pattern, pen
down, perform, personate, photocopy, photograph, photostat, picturize,
piece, pinch, pirate, plagiarize, play, play a part, plot, portray, pose
as, pretend to be, print, printout, produce, profile, project, proxy
for, push the pen, put in writing, [Q]uadruplicate, quote, [R]eading
matter (treat as), rebuild, recense, reconstitute, reconstruct, record,
re-create, re-creation, redesign, redo, redouble, reduplicate,
reestablish, refashion, reflect, re-form, refound, regenerate,
regurgitate, reincarnate, reinstitute, reissue, relief, remake, remind
one of, renew, renovate, reorganise, repeat, replace, replicate,
represent, reprint, reproduce, resemble, reserve, reshape, restore,
restructure, resurrect, resurrection, revise, revive, rewrite, rough
out, rub, [S]ample, savor of, say again, scoop, score, scratch, screed
(make), script, seem like, sell, shade, shadow, sign, simulate, sketch,
smack of, sound like, sow, spill ink on, spitting image (create), spoil
paper, stack it up, steal, stencil, sub, substitute, suggest,
superscribe, surrogate, [T]able, take, take after, take off, take on,
take over, the same (do), tint, token, trace, trade, transcribe,
triplicate, twin, type, [U]nderstudy, utilise, [V]ersion, very image
(create), very picture (create), very same (create), [W]all paint, work,
write down, write out, [X]erox

"The truth is, that the natives of that Monarchy [the Mughals] are the
best apes for imitation in the world, so full of ingenuity, that they
will make any new thing by pattern, how hard soever it may seem to be
done; and therefore it is no marvel if the natives there make shoes,
boots, clothes, linen, band, and cuff in our English fashion, which are
all of them very much different fro their fashions and habits, and yet
them make them all exceedingly neat."

Terry, Voyage to the East Indies, 1655 ed.
Quoted in Ashan Jan Qaisar's 'The Indian Response to European Technology
and Culture, AD 1498 - 1707', OUP, 1982


- A Question of Standards (by Ravi Agarwal)

What do standards mean? And I want to raise questions on environmental
norms, what the assumptions are, what the dynamics are and what kind of
imaginations they might stop. In thinking through the language and
framework of standards, we could loose other ways of looking at the
environment and ecology. This is an increasing concern for me as an
environmental activist (involved as I am in several standard processes)
-- why things don't happen and why things don't work and why we aren't
doing things in a different way.

*A Definition*

Standards are normally understood as a proces of standardising
technology. So they are, essentially, a technology-oriented take on
something. They consider, for instance, how much Carbon Dioxide or Lead
is is release in a certain process. That is, you take one single
pollutant and set a standard for it. This is called an Ambient Standard.
Then, there is the Source Standard, which looks at the source of the
pollutant and therefore makes it possible to regulate the source, eg a
car, in reference to the set up norm.

*A technical question? Or a question of technique?*

The truth is, these standards are actually unclear. There is no Ambient
Air Quality Standard per say. But we do have Source Standards. And the
calculation of the Ambient Standard from the Source Standard requires
mathematical modeling. Normally to set a Source Standard is to regulate
a source. Eg, if a thermal power plant is set up, it will be checked
with a meter to guage if norms are being followed. The presumption here
is that these norms are health based standards.

However, any pollutant is bound to produce risk. So there's something
called the acceptable risk, the first grey area of the world of
standards. If an element causes cancer in one person in a million, it is
an acceptable risk. This is determined through dose response, that is,
how much dose it will take for a "normal" human being to be affected.=

This is guaged through lab experiments. If you give 20 times the legally
permissible dose to a hundred hamsters, how much dose will it take to
kill fifty of them? Following this far from fool proof cause and effect
relationship, the classification of the pollutant is negotiated.

*The standard simulacrum*

Both the determination and implementation of standards involves the
mobilisation of a huge bureaucracy and scientific institutes, with their
own conflicting interests. The latter is important to consider -- it
means industrial interests would naturally tend towards not raising
standards too high. Standards drive technology -- technology has to be
upgraded to comply with the standards.

Moreover, different countries follow different standards. We don't have
global standards because costs are not uniform across nations. The WHO
sets certain standards, but the European standards are higher. This sets
up a differential, which in turn determines the flow of technology,
dumping. This, along with being seen as an effect of the standards,
needs to be considered as an important influence in the setting of
standards. Because the standards that are set are according to the best
available technology with acceptable cost in a country. And there is
never any clear definition of what constitutes "available technology"=

Thus constructed, standards drive laws as well as implementation
procedures. Compliance with standards implies the source is
environmentally safe. They become the basis for all kinds of
environmental action. If you make yourself susceptible by
non-compliance, you risk being taken to court by environmentalists.

*The after-effects*

Standards affect the cost of technology and, so, how the industry looks
at itslef. They help frame the fundamentals of environmental policy
making, on which decisions are made. They impact investment and
regulation.They even impact how we look at our own health.

There is a bruhaha of the scientificity of standards. But actually it's
about hard core cause and effect science and a lot of political
negotiation. And we accept these daily as norms. We start accepting
generalisations. Standards become the drivers -- "If we accept these", we
think, "everything will fall in place". Generalisation becomes a known
trajectory of what we can accept, and what we find acceptable. The
conflict is fundamental, because it deals with life itself. This is the
reason why one makes generalisations in the first place.

*Imagining alternatives*

Lets consider two cases.

*The first*

We may talk of a certain standard for the quality of food. But
contamination may happen at any stage -- in production (agriculture), in
transportation, in retail marketing, or at the level of consumer
awareness. How can we deal with this in an integrated manner when
institutions are not talking to one another, in the absence of a common

*The second*

The cost of oil kept rising. There was an idea that if this continued,
there may be some boost to looking at renewable sources of energy. But
established markets will never let prices rise and give rise to a
situation where the manufacturer can't cope, and consumers have to
switch to an alternative like bicycles. There will always be a
technological innovation to stop that from happening. Even if it means
tandards that cars need to comply with are raised.

We want to look at renewable energy as an option, but there are no
standards for it. Standard driven cost doesn't encourage alternative
approaches, and alternative approaches can't be a function of market
driven costs. Without actually focusing on alternatives, all one
provides are technical alternatives, which do not gain momentum.

There is an obvious disconnect here. Our imagination for the environment
seems to be the compliance of certain standards. Our imagination of the
environment and our solutions get based on technical norms. We are
ecological beings, yet our connect is technical.

For instance, if we start working on the River Yamuna, there is no other
frame than that of the Yamuna being polluted, of not being in a
condition in keeping with the accepted environmental standards. And yet,
these standards are set by a body of experts who have no relationship to
what they are talking about. Norms are being set up without any
condition or experiene as part of the understanding.

This is a sharp separation between what governs our life and the kind of
experience that sets this on our plate. How can we save a river if it
isn't in our imagination? People say Thames is clean. That's because
they can see it. People don't see the Yamuna.

The dynamics of urban issues almost have a known trajectory of where
they will be located. And in trying to locate the personal connection of
the larger question of culture and web of life, and the ecological
space, there is very little common language.

Written reproduction of an oral presentation by Ravi Agarwal in the
Urban Environment Workshop held at SARAI on the 3rd and 4th November,
2004. Ravi Agarwal is an environmental activist and photographer. Ideas
in this presentation are part of a forthcoming article by him in the
Sarai Reader 05, "Bare Acts".


- In Bagdadh, Dreaming of Cairo / Essay Review / by Smriti Vohra

'Reimagining the Public Domain' by David Lange

(from Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 66, pp. 463-83)

This article is also available at

The author is Professor of Law, Duke University. A preliminary footnote
to the article declares: "Copyright in this work is hereby disclaimed
and abandoned."

Paolo Coelho's bestselling book /The Alchemist/ presents the (ironic)
notion that one can wander in delusion all over the world in search of
whatever one is looking for, or the fulfillment of a need, when in
actuality everything one requires is right where one is, within easy
reach, in one's own life and thinking. The core idea of Coelho's
narrative, which continues to be cited as a modern masterpiece of
inspirational literature, is strikingly similar to a long Sufi parable
in Jalaluddin Rumi's /Masnavi, /titled 'In Baghdad, dreaming of Cairo:
in Cairo, dreaming of Baghdad'. It presents the idea of a man who goes
on a journey seeking the buried treasure he saw in a dream.

Such a linking of texts in the mind of the reader may be purely
hypothetical, but it proves how conditioned we are to established
notions of authorship and "transformative appropriations", to borrow a
term from the essay reviewed here. David Lange seeks to redefine the
public domain and examine its relations with creativity, imagination and
rights. He categorically states that he wants the public domain, however
it may be defined, to secure the "elemental aspirations" that are innate
to human beings: 'to think and to imagine, to remember and to
appropriate, to play and to create'. He acknowledges that the term
'public domain' is elastic and inexact, and can be perhaps most usefully
seen as a commons, set off against fences that "delimit the interests of
individual rights holders"; this definition is invaluable for the
purposes of imagining a politics of the commons that structures the
operations of cyberspace.

Thus, the public domain contests the "expansionism" of intellectual
property regimes, which are "boundary-fixing" encroachments upon the
imagination, and a means of extracting payment for creativity and
creative expression.

Lange demands a radical re-conceptualisation and reconfiguration of the
public domain itself. It has to be envisioned as autonomous, having an
affirmative existence of its own, and strengthened accordingly. "Reform"
of the public domain is not enough: there should be "revolution". We are
urged to envision the public domain "as if it were a status like
citizenship, but a citizenship arising from the exercise of creative
imagination rather than as a concomitant of birth". This citizenship
confers protection, not merely recognition or definition. The public
domain should be understood as an affirmative source of entitlements
capable of "deployment" as, when and where required, against
encroachments upon the creative imagination by intellectual property

According to Lange, imagination and its parameters form the central
focus, reach and scope of the public domain. He asks whether
"imagination" is distinct from "action", quoting from an article by Jed
Rubenfeld in the /Yale Law Journal/: "The freedom of imagination demands
that people be free to exercise their imagination. It is not a freedom
to do what one imagines." Violence, intentional misrepresentation,
misinformation, do not qualify. Additionally, when copyright law bars
simple piracy, it does not punish infringers for exercising their
imagination. It punishes them for failing to exercise their
imagination--for failing to add any imaginative content to the copied
material. By Rubenfeld's standard, peer-to-peer filesharing in the
Napster mode does not qualify as an exercise of imagination, but Lange
feels that it does indeed, and moreover, does so in a "substantial" manner.

He also says that creativity and appropriation are "as inseparable as
creativity and memory"; in his opinion, "they should remain so, at
whatever cost may follow to whatever other belief systems (including
copyright) may thus be obliged to stand aside".Copyright is omnipresent,
and is also correspondingly over-extended. It is "fundamentally wrong"
to insist that children internalise the proprietary and moral values of
the copyright system, as proprietary values inevitably encroach upon the
formation and growth of creativity in young minds. He cites the example
of Helen Keller, whose early efforts at creative self-expression were
damaged "irreparably" by accusations of plagiarism (regarding a story
she had composed) leveled against her by her mentor Michael Anagnos, the
director of the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston, that Keller

Lange discusses copyright and the doctrine of fair use in terms of what
he calls "transformative" or "creative" appropriations, reminding us
that there may always be some level of functional and aesthetic
"equivalency" between two works. Creative appropriations require
affirmative protections. He defines piracy as "an appropriation
unmotivated by any creative exercise, including an exercise of the
creative imagination".

Somewhat ambiguously, he defines appropriation as "creative" (and
thereby qualifying as an exercise of the creative imagination) "when we
see in it the qualities or attributes we recognise in conceptual art of
any kind".

Lange concludes his essay by citing the example of a poem by Anne Frank,
written in Amsterdam to her friend Henny on the occasion of the latter's
birthday party in 1940: "Dear Henny / Pluck roses on earth / and forget
me not." It was later discovered that this poem appeared to have been
"appropriated" verbatim from an anthology of poetry widely available in
the Netherlands at that time. Lange asks if, by the standards of
contemporary copyright doctrines, Anne Frank could be classified as a
creator, an author, a plagiarist, a pirate, a thief. He declares that it
is wrong for copyright to intrude into private lives, wrong to measure
creativity by the standards of copyright. He states unequivocally that
it is wrong to lay impediments (moral, intellectual, legal) before
exercises of the imagination, "whether great or small". We have to
ensure that proprietary modes do not "rob us of this vital aspect of our
citizenship: the right to think as we please and to speak as we think".


- Photocopying (a definitional play)

Photocopying is a process which makes paper
<http://www.free-definition.com/Paper.html> copies of documents and
other visual images. The machine that performs this function is called a
photocopier. A high contrast electrostatic image copy is created on a
drum and then a fusible plastic powder (called toner) is transferred to
regular paper, heated and then fused into the paper. In recent years,
photocopiers have adopted digital technology, with the copier
effectively consisting of an integrated scanner
<http://www.free-definition.com/Scanner-%28computing%29.html> and laser
printer <http://www.free-definition.com/Laser-printer.html>.

1. Place the paper on the dark surface.

2. Close the top.

3. Press the 'START' button.

4. Wait as green bands of light travel across the page.

5. Check if another sheet is sliding out into the tray, transformed
into an exact copy of the original.

6. Take copy.


- Courtspeak: Zee Telefilms Ltd v Sundial Communications Pvt. Ltd.

Zee telefilms Ltd. v. Sundial Comminucations Pvt. Ltd.


Zee Telefilms Ltd & Anr.......Appellants


Sundial Communications Pvt. Ltd & Ors.......Respondents

Shah and Deshmukh, Judges

Decided on March 27, 2003

Held: Having considered the two works involved in this case not
hypocritically and with meticulous scrutiny, and by observations and
impressions of the average vewier, there are striking similarities in
the two works which cannot, in the light of the material places on
record, be said to constitute mere chance. The only inference that can
be drawn from the material available on record is unlawful copying of
the plaintiff's original work.

Notes from the judgement:

Sundial Communications is a company engaged in television programming,
video programming, television serials, etc. In January 2002 it worked
out an initial concept montage for a TV serial titled 'Kanhaiya' and
presented it to ZEE Telefims Ltd. The latter expressed an interest in
producing the serial, and Sundial Communications produced a pilot by
October 2002. The pilot was sent to Star TV, Sony TV, and Sahara, along
with Zee. For protection, both the initial concept and the pilot were
registered with the Film and Writers Association, and the title
registered with the Film Producers Association.

Initial negotiations fell through and consequently Sundial entered into
discussions with Sony Entertainment Television. However, they learnt
soon after that ZEE Telefilms was producing a show titled Krish
Kanhaiya, which seemed to be based on the concept of Kanhaiya. Upon
hearing of the prospective production by Zee, Sony Television refused to
sign a contract with Sundial. Hence Sundial took ZEE Telefilms to court
for breach of confidentiality, copyright infringement and for passing
off Sundial's work as their own.

In examining the question of whether the defendant's work violated the
plaintiff's copyright, the court considered, "One of the surest and the 
safest tests to determine whether or not there has been a violation of
copyright is to see if the reader, spectator or the viewer after having
read or seen both the works is clearly of the opinion and gets an
unmistakable impression that the subsequent work appears to be a copy of
the original."

When this principle was applied to the case, the following emerged:

KK Krish Kanhaiyya(Plaintiff) v. K, Kanhaiyya (Defendant).

KK: Family is rich and dysfunctional / K: Family is rich and dysfunctional

KK: The Main woman protagonist (stepmother), most affected by the
environment in the house, prays for help to
God / K: Main woman protagonist Dadi Ma, most affected by environment in
the house, prays for help to God (Lord Krishna).

KK: The prayer is answered soon by the arrival of Kanhaiyya / K: The
prayer is answered soon by the arrival of Kanhiayya.

KK: God is in Bal Krishna form / K: God is in Child Form.

KK: Their interaction with Kanhaiyya is heartwarming, consoling and
gives some support to the main woman protagonist / K: The interaction
with Kanhaiyya is heartwarming, consoling and gives some support to the
main woman protagonist.

KK: Kanhiayya attaches himself to the seeker of help / K: Kanhaiyya
attaches himself to the seeker of help.

KK: Opening sequence includes is flute music, and instruction normally
associated with Lord Krishna / K: Opening sequence starts with rendition
to Lord Krishna.

KK: Opening title has a prominent peacock feather and the character of
Lord Krishna, and the title Krish Kanhaiyya written across it / K: The
opening title has a peacock feather with the main character's face and
Kanhaiyya written all across it. The audio includes flute music and
shlokas from the Gita.

In both serials the father is a businessman with three children. In KK,
the elder son is a sportsman and a footballer, whereas in K the elder
son is a cricketer. In the former, the second child is a budding
scientist and does not sleep all night, whereas in the defendant's
serial the second child is a computer geek who does not sleep all night
and spends too much time on the computer. In Krish Kanhaiyya, the
youngest child is a daughter and talks to people through her doll,
whereas in the defendant's serial the youngest child is also a daughter
and talks in the third person. The servants in both households also have
similar characteristics.

After viewing both films, the court reasoned, "...a viewer would
definitely form an opinion or would get a dominant impression that the
defendant's serial has been based on or been taken from the original
work of the plaintiffs. It is true that there are some dissimilarities
in the manner of presentation which are highlighted by the learned
counsel for the defendants in his arguments. However, we think that
these dissimilarities are trivial and insignificant. To quote the words
of the learned judge Hand in Sheldon v. Metro Goldwyn Picture
Corporation (1993), 8/n F 2^nd 49, 'It is enough that substantial parts
were lifted. No playwright can excuse wrong for showing how much of his
work he did not private'."


- FLOSS is not just good for teeth / Free, Libre and Open Source
Explained (finally) in Simple English!

"Why do they call it 'FLOSS' when it doesn't clean your teeth?"

Are you a non-nerd, a human being who happens to use computers without
living inside them? Does that make you curious to find out what the buzz
regarding open source and free software is all about? What's in it for
you? Does it work? Is it fun and easy to use? How is it made and who
makes it? And how 'free' or 'open' is it, really? Have you looked long
and hard for answers to questions like these in plain English? If that's
the case, 'FLOSS is not just good for teeth' could be just what you are
looking for.

Impress your techie buddies with the fact that you care for your kernel,
and open yourself to a whole new world of concepts that offer
challenging and exciting ideas about creativity, collaboration and
coding. 'Floss' geeks, make yourselves understood to other human beings
- download and distribute 'FLOSS is not just good for teeth' to friends,
family and colleagues, so they can finally know and appreciate what
keeps you awake while they sleep.

'FLOSS is not just good for teeth' is a collaboratively produced
introduction to the concepts that underlie free and open source
software, written specially for the non-technical reader, at the Sarai
Programme (www.sarai.net) of the Centre for the Study of Developing
Societies, Delhi.

for free downloads

Produced at the Media Lab, Sarai-CSDS (Delhi) as part of 'Towards a
Culture of Open Networks' (http://opencultures.org), with support from
the EU-India Economic Cross-Cultural Programme.


- The School of Good Copying

The general syllabus for art students focuses on the realistic style of
painting under the program which is authorized by the Russian Academy of

The program consists of work in still life, portraits, nudes, images of
the interior of the institute halls, and antique reliefs found in the
halls of the museum of sculpture. The study of figures include a
portrait, an image of a nude and anatomic figures. When weather permits,
primarily in June and July, these studies are taken outdoors and works
created 'a la prima' or, as is more commonly known, plein air.

The art of copying is performed by students in the 3rd and 6th study
level. Depending on the chosen subject (an old Russian work or painting)
the student may produce an icon or perhaps an oil painting. The student
may choose a work from either the Russian State Museum, The Hermitage,
or in the halls of the Academy itself. Occasionally, a
student may decide to produce a copy of one of the works which is
currently under restoration.

All phases in the production of a copy are conducted under the
supervision of the instructors of the restoration



- To Copy Writings

Take a piece of unsized paper exactly of the size of the paper to be
copied. Moisten it with water, or with the following liquid: Take of
distilled vinegar, 2 lbs.; dissolve it in 1 oz. of boracic acid; then
take 4 oz. of oyster shells calcined to whiteness, and carefully freed
from their brown crust; put them into the vinegar, shake the mixture
frequently for 24 hours, then let it stand till it deposits its
sediment; filter the clear part through unsized paper into a glass
vessel; then add 2 oz. of the best Aleppo galls bruised, and place the
liquor in a warm place; shake it frequently for 24 hours, then filter
the liquor again through unsized paper, and add to it after filtration,
1 qt., ale measure, of pure water. It must then stand 24 hours, and be
filtered again, if it shows a disposition to deposit any sediment, which
it generally does. When the paper has been wet with this liquid, put it
between 2 thick unsized papers to absorb the superfluous moisture; then
lay it over the writing to be copied, and put a piece of clean
writing-paper above it. Put the whole on the board of a rolling-press,
and press them through the rolls, as is done in printing copperplates,
and a copy of the writing will appear on both sides of the thin
moistened paper, on one side in a reversed order and direction, but on
the other side in the natural order and direction of the lines.

--From the Household Cyclopedia of General Information (1881)



- Media Spaces: Video Parlours in the city (Mayur Suresh, researcher,
PPHP, Sarai)

Starting Up

Prabhu, a video library owner in the Austin town in Bangalore,
says, "We were always talking about movies. Me and my friend. So
we bought one VCR player and that time it was in demand and we
started hiring it out. We became partners, thinking, 'Why don't we
open a library with that?' We invested a little money, Rs 5000,
and bought some cassettes.

"One other guy next to Galaxy theatre, Sagar King his place is
called, helped us out. We initially stocked 300 cassettes. Since
we knew that guy, we took from his shop whatever extra cassettes
he had. I bought a VCP and my partner bought a VCP. And we said
okay, we are partners. If one of us rents out something, we share
the profits; and if both of us rent out something, we share the

"We spoke to a guy who had an egg shop. We told him, "Give us some
place. We will pay you whatever rent you want. We'll have a video
cassette shop." He was very happy, at his shop being partly
converted to a cassette shop.

"The Sagar King guy said, 'Okay, I'll give you 300 tapes, and in
return you have to give me Rs 1 per tape everyday.' So it was Rs
300 every day. No matter if ten cassettes went out or twenty went
out. It was very good.

"We took all the 300 tapes, kept them at the shop, and then we
started distributing pamphlets everywhere. The response was
excellent. Whenever there were new movies, everyone wanted them.
We used to run, get the movies, give them. Business traveled like
anything. We had a fantastic business immediately, because we were
the first people to start. From far away places people used to
come for English Hindi, Tamil films, and all that.
"Later we said that this money was not enough, so we took another
partner. And then we took the whole egg shop on rent. The egg shop
man also joined us as a partner. So then we started off the
full-fledged cassettes shop. Business was very good. We went on
for four-five years like that."

Video with Chai

When PK started his video parlour in the late '80s, he was visited
by the police a number of times. But he says that the police also
had no idea of how or if they were empowered to regulate the video

"What kind of problems do I have? Yes=85mainly police. They used to
come and say 'Why you are showing this? What permission have you

"In the beginning there were no rules, no permission, so we said
that we do not know what permission we are supposed to have.

"In fact, this idea came to me was because I was running a
restaurant. I was selling tea, coffee, bonda, snacks. In the dull
hours there were hardly any people, and there just was a radio or
a gramophone to entertain the customers. Then the bright idea come
to our mind to get a TV and show video movies.

"So when the video was on in the restaurant and there were regular
tables and chairs, people used to drink coffee and eat snacks and
watch the movie freely. Somebody would watch for ten minutes, half
an hour, two hours. Some crazy people might watch for the entire
three hours, stretching out one coffee. So then we observed that
the crowd started growing steadily. Within one month we realised
that we had more customers, and when we started the movie, it was
house full. People used to sit for the full three hours, but we
didn't do much business.

"Then slowly it came to our minds to set a condition that if you
order one thing, you cannot sit for more than one hour. So if you
wanted to see the whole picture for three hours, you had to order
three times.

"There were chairs on both sides and half the people were sitting
ulta. So, slowly we thought, let us forget the benches and let
everyone face the TV side, and we served them only coffee in the
hand. We closed down the puri bhaaji and heavy snacks, for which
you require a table, and slowly, slowly, we increased the coffee
charge also, and then slowly, slowly we thought, you give us a
flat Rs 10 for sitting here, forget coffee. So this is how it all
started. "


Mayur Suresh

mayur@sarai.net <ayur@sarai.net>

Mayur is a researcher with the PPHP (Publics and Practices in the
History of the Present) project, Sarai


- Imitating Life: Painting fish

Fish must be painted swimming and darting with vitality. They should
appear startled by a shadow, or they should be floating idly, opening
and closing their mouths. As they float on the surface, dive or glide
through the weeds, the clear waters envelop them or ripple off them.
Deep in one's heart, one envies them their pleasure. As with human
beings, they should have idea/meaning (i). If one fails to render this
aspect of their divine quality and merely copies their appearance, even
painted in a mountain stream or torrent the fish will look as dead as on
a platter.

Hsu Hsi, The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting (17th century)


- Circular: Prototypes

The R&D wing developed a prototype color photocopier to copy content
displayed on a PC monitor two years ago. The prototype measures about
5x9 cm and features a colour LCD display and a photosensitive layer.
When a user touches the screen and presses a button, the portion touched
is copied. However there have been no responses to the invitation for
tenders to make copies of this prototype. A prototype cannot stand
alone. A meeting if hereby scheduled for the third of next month to
decide the fate of the aforementioned device.


- Terminator Seeds

A seed is a source or beginning; a germ; a propogative part of a plant.
It is also an offspring, a progeny. Seeds are borne by plants. They are
borne, and then dispersed. Some seeds are ensconsed safely in fleshy
fruits, while some are hard and nutty. Some are winged, and travel the
wind currents and gentle breezes, possibly making home on a distant
mountain slope or fertile valley. Others rely on being carried away,
with their fruit, far from their progenitor by the agency of animals.
Some seeds are fleshy themselves, and can be eaten. Some of these do not
get eaten and sprout into new trees. And some seeds are so hard and
tough, that they can be used to make jewellery.

Each seed, a carrier of life, develops into the plant it is borne of.
Seeds can lie dormant for a long time, till they find conditions ripe
for their germination. They are inactive in their dry state. In a moist
environment, they absorb water and swell. A root begins to grow out of
the seed, a stem emerges as well. With the stem, the seed begins to lift
out of the ground. Soon, it unfolds its seed leaves, the cotyledons.
These open to catch the sunlight. Between them, a bud gives promise that
true leaves will soon appear. And with the opening of true leaves, the
plant is off to a good start.

Seeds multiply themselves, so human beings find seeds immensely
valueable. And because seeds have this perfected ability to make more of
themselves, people take on different roles vis-a-vis 'cultivating' them.
Some people only breed them - that is, enhance their qualities over
generations through different techniques, specifically genetic
modification. Other people produce, breed and conserve seeds. These are
farmers, who need to sow part of the seeds they produce to grow the next
generation of crops. Their area of influence, like their resources, are
usually local and small scale.

Both rely on and lay claim to the reproductive value of the seed. Since
the farmer is also a breeder, the definition of the breeder and the
farmer need to be marked and further differentiated. To negotiate this,
the question of rights arises - who has what kinds of rights over the
reproduction of the seeds? For instance, sometimes certain breeders (who
are also big corporations) are allowed to extract fees from farmers and
other breeders who want to use new seeds. With rights, there come
different forms of infringement and methods of compensation for the
holders of the rights. So, if the breeders' seeds, being used by farmer
A are carried by wind to the neighbouring farmer B's field, farmer B may
be disallowed from sell his yield that year. And because farmer A is
bound by terms and conditions to the breeder, he would also be barred
from selling or giving his seeds to any other.

In addition, a seed's functions also get redefined. When seeds are
cultivated, they are not only reused through sowing, but also involve
different kinds of transactions - exchange, selling and buying, gifting.
These are forms of dispersal, and they are based on the ability of a
seed to regenerate, germinate, to reproduce itself. Also, through their
practice and knowledge, farmers constantly produce new varieties of
plants specifically suited to the region and area to which they belong.
This is done by means like cross-fertilisation between varieties, one of
which may be hardy and pest resistant, and the other which is high

In the new role of the seed, the final redefinition is brought about
through seeds coded to commit suicide. These are called terminator seeds
- sterile seeds produced by genetically modified plants. By this means
of preventing farmers from reusing the seed for future crops,
reproduction of the seed and the nurturing of the practices around it
are contained and curtailed.

Binding the creation and circulation of the copy - the seed - becomes a
precondition for control over domains of knowledge, processes and

Notes from proceedings of "New Technologies, Social Knowledge and
Intellectual Property Law". A Sarai-CSDS and HIVOS workshop (in
collaboration with Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore), November 2003.




Editorial Collective: Aarti Sethi, Iram Ghufran, Shveta Sarda, Smriti Vohra
Editorial Coordinator: Monica Narula
Design: Mrityunjay Chatterjee
Write to broadsheet@sarai.net

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