Keeping it factual.

I was trawling through various “Happy Diwali” emails in my inbox when I chanced upon one sent by the CEO of Ocimum Biosolutions. The email visual was using a Diwali wallpaper from my blog. No credit was provided and the email footer mentioned,

“The information contained in this email and any attachments is confidential and may be subject to copyright or other intellectual property protection. If you are not the intended recipient, you are not authorized to use or disclose this information, and we request that you notify us by reply mail or telephone and delete the original message from your mail system.”

This is what came in the email :

And this is the original wallpaper : link to original Diwali wallpaper 2008 blogpost.

I was appalled. It was also hilarious. Did the CEO not know or was she turning a blind eye? Conjecture on my part but how am I to know? I asked my lawyer to send them an email as well as a physical letter / notice with stipulations on the time they had to revert.

The email from Ocimum Biosolutions with the plagiarized Diwali greeting was received on 1st November 2010.
My lawyer sent them an email on 1st November 2010. The timeline for response was two weeks, which means my lawyer or I should have heard from them by 14th / 15th November. The physical notice was sent to them on 11th November 2010.

Not a word from their side.

Did Ocimum Biosolutions hire a bad designer who believes that the internet is public domain and anything can be filched? That designer should be fired. Does Ocimum Biosolutions believe that design is a worthless process and hence it is ok to copy and paste another designer’s work? Ocimum should spend more time understanding how design can help – and they should hire me for the same. Did Ocimum Biosolutions not read my blog post carefully or the copyright notice on each page? Ocimum should hire people who can read.

The CEO of Ocimum Biosolutions is a very well-networked lady on all social and business networking platforms and because I am in her network, I received her Diwali email. I haven’t had any other contact with the lady and hence cannot judge what went wrong.

The sad part is that this is just one case of plagiarism by Ocimum Biosolutions that I have come across. They might be plagiarizing more and there are definitely more companies like Ocimum Biosolutions who are plagiarizing not only my work but the work of other designers as well and we will never find out.


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  1. for a start i believe that all your designs should be copyrighted with docs. If not then this is a first step. As far as i know, on internet things without copyrights are like kids without parents or cars without owners. Only difference is people tend to pick anything on net unlike in the real life. This is a must.
    Next don’t expect a normal human being to take pains for reverting your notice just like that. That’s a corporate social responsibility which is not common in the common sense. Am not saying you should not pursue what right, am just saying dont loose your cool over a missed or sidelined notice or clause.

  2. Hey Naina,

    I actually do agree with Viresh. The thing is that there is no real clarity when it comes to copyright laws, especially the ones which apply to online copyright. It is still a fairly new concept for many, and most don’t even know how to handle it. On the internet, the source of creative material and execution of idea is a simple prnt scrn key.

    And you are asking for trouble if you release material without at least a large watermark and copyright symbol. If you really want people to download your art for personal consumption, then get them to mail you, and you could probably put them on a secure list – but till such time you are not going to take those measures, your creations are up for public consumption, and they can be used by anyone with just a minor tweak.

    Do you know that any thing that you put up online, if I want to use it, all I have to do is change the hue, the background a little or add one element of my own, and I can bypass most copyright laws, currently in practice? As much as we hate it, being in the creative field, such is the hard fact of life.

    You may just want to pick up the phone and talk to the COO and see what she has to say – if you have that access – not asking you to stop the pursue of justice, but just that it makes a lot more sense to educate people rather than berate/charge them in situations wherein they may not know right from wrong.


  3. Samriddh » I don’t usually comment, but I want to set some things straight. Right off the bat, ignorance of a law isn’t an excuse. It is your job as a citizen of the country to familiarize yourself with its laws. You can’t walk in to a store, take something and walk out, and then claim that you didn’t know that was against the law.

    Secondly, asking a designer to put a “large watermark and copyright symbol” is pretty much the same as asking them to take a bucket of red paint and splash it across the canvas. A designer can bloody well choose how to publish her work without having sleepless nights worrying about people stealing it. The law is in place to prevent it. There’s nothing wrong with the law. The problem lies with the people and our forever clichéd attitude of “chalta hai”. Also as a sidenote, can I ask you to state these laws that you claim you “can bypass”?

    Naina’s job is not to educate the country in copyright laws. It’s the job of the people to educate themselves. I’ll say it again, ignorance of a law isn’t an excuse. It’s not like they bothered asking Naina either. Nor did they respond to the lawyer’s notice. If you still think Naina should be educating them, then you’re part of the system that is wrong here.

  4. I understand how difficult it is for a designer to protect her work.
    A simple suggestion would be to add a bookmark and also give clear indication about copyright and also information on how one can buy the design or template.
    Also it would be great if you could give out some free stuff on your blog or use creative commons?

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