blog post

Their Story, Not Our Glory


They say, ‘Cricket is a great leveller. It creates deities out of mortals and demons out of gods’. (I hope) Most of you may nod in agreement that our cricket commentators define the glories of this great sport in such majestic terms, invariably, when they have nothing else to observe or state.

Much to your relief/disappointment this post is not about cricket or anything remotely connected to it because I have been warned that it’s not a matter to be trifled with. However, without questioning the validity of this claim, I would like to state that cricket is certainly not the sole ‘leveller’ in this world. Among a number of other things, the one ‘leveller’ that I firmly believe in is the writing space. It does, indeed, stimulate self-expression in various degrees and forms, without taking hierarchies into account.

Hence, I regard the Pearson blog in high esteem and revere the scope it offers for debate, discussion, imagination, petulance and aggression. At the same time, I am surprised by the remarkable conservatism we display while dealing with this space. We tepidly tread the proverbial ‘middle path’ when faced with issues, which are deliciously contentious (well, you can think of at least three, without squinting...). In case you are suspecting that this piece of writing may turn out to be a treatise on the ‘act’ of writing and its functionalities, let me put your fears to rest. I would not dare to attempt or embark on such a grand exercise.

Rather, I would merely utilise this space and the medium to present certain facts and views regarding a matter which largely defines the ethical order of the publishing world and deserves more than a casual reference. The matter that I am referring to is ‘intellectual proprietorship’ and its purview, as well as our own perspective on it.

The basic standards of protection of literary and artistic works were put forth by the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1886 in Switzerland. Initiated by the French author Victor Hugo, the convention firmly established the author/creator of an intellectual work as the sole owner of its copyright, without being ‘asserted or declared’. Most importantly, the creator’s proprietorship is not just restricted to the original work, but also extends to all derivative works, unless he/she willingly disclaims it. The Berne Convention also explicitly states that foreign authors/creators will be conferred with the same rights and privileges regarding copyrighted material as domestic authors in any country that has signed the convention.

Under the Berne Convention, all works (except photographic and cinematographic works) are protected by copyright for at least fifty years after the author’s death.

As the Berne Convention defined certain uniform standards for the acknowledgement and recognition of the ownership of intellectual works, a clear and definite notion of ‘copyright’ emerged. As we understand it now, it is the ‘legal, exclusive right of the author of a creative work to control the copying of that work’.

Therefore, while dealing with intellectual property, it is important for us to be aware of certain nuances of copyright.

Following the Berne Convention, all works are copyrighted as soon as they are written, and no formal notice or declaration is required.

We should be very careful while dealing with material posted on the Internet. Internet postings are not in the public domain (unless explicitly stated) and hence, copying or adaptation or replication at one’s own discretion is not permitted.


While using someone else’s work, one should be conscious of the principle of ‘fair use’. ‘Fair use’ in itself is a complex, to some extent vague and controversial idea. To make matters simple, every time we get into the act of reproducing someone else’s work or a portion of his/her work, we need to be honest about the purpose of the act. ‘Will it accomplish commercial gain and profit or will it benefit the society and help to spread awareness about a social issue without fetching me any financial gains?’  Your answer will establish your motive.


Even adapting a concept or an idea from someone else’s work and appropriating it in one’s own words is an act of violation of copyright.


India is a signatory of the Berne Convention and also an active member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva. The Indian copyright law of 1957 recognises the creator of an intellectual work as the sole owner of copyright and prohibits the reproduction of a previously written/created artistic material or performance rights without prior consent of the owner. The law not only guards against intellectual ‘theft’ but also protects dramatic, artistic and musical works along with cinematography and sound recording. The Indian copyright law clearly identifies violation of copyright as a criminal act.


Dear reader,

By now you must be writhing in your seat or gasping for breath and cursing the moment when you started reading this rambling post, may be, in a light vein. My apologies!

I admit, that this piece of writing does not qualify as humorous or entertaining, neither does it generate controversy or debate.

It merely touches upon a few facts regarding a matter, which affects us in many ways every day, and often leaves us very confused. With greater access to information, we find a vast repertoire of artistic works waiting to be explored. In our zeal to procure and utilise all that we can get our hands on, we are sometimes careless, at times irresponsible. Especially, with the Internet offering easy transaction of intellectual property, we tend to assume that they have been created to facilitate our needs. It’s indeed very tempting to take the easy way out and feign ignorance while using someone else’s work to suit our requirements. This is tantamount to theft and the sooner we realise the criminal nature of the act, the better for us and our trade.

So it is of utmost importance that we exercise fair play, sensitivity as well as conscientiousness by educating ourselves about the scope of intellectual copyright and examining the source of any material that reaches us before publishing it. It may be a little tedious, even frustrating but surely, it’s worth the effort.

As I conclude, I feel the need to defend this disorderly piece of writing, which apparently flits from one idea to another. My initial reference to cricket is not completely misplaced in the context of the subject that I have pursued so far. So let me flash my ‘writer’s license’ to draw an insipid analogy between the two. Yes, you must have guessed it…and no matter how tame it sounds, you can’t deny that it is true. If cricket is revered as the ‘gentleman’s game’, our trade too is founded upon the same principles of fairness and integrity. And we are the incorruptible white knights in charge of protecting its honour!






About this blog

This blog is for all employees of Pearson in India . We hope to share updates - both personal and professional - from the worlds of education and publishing.