World Intellectual Property Day falls on April 26
‘The importance of being original’

By Sarasi Paranamanna
In this ever changing ‘digital world’ the term ‘intellectual property’ is commonly read and heard, but how many of us are aware of the rights and offences that can be committed in regards with intellectual property? The Nation delves into this topic to increase awareness among the readers of how to use intellectual property without violating or infringing on the owners’ rights.
According to the Intellectual Property Office of Sri Lanka (NIPO), any rights which are results of the creativity of the human mind falls under the category of intellectual property. Hence, any individual who have created or owns this form of property can benefit from the statute which governs the intellectual property law in Sri Lanka. The website content of NIPO categorises intellectual property into two main groups as, Industrial Property which includes trade marks service marks, geographical indications and Copyrights which include literary and artistic work.

Soundarie David Rodrigo, musician and attorney-at-law explaining the circumstances of IP law in Sri Lanka noted that the statute has sufficient provisions that cover most aspects of IP law. “The Intellectual Property Act No. 36 of 2003 has adequate laws to protect IP rights. “However I think it is a matter of enforcement,” she said.
A copyright owner has two kinds of rights; economic and moral rights. According to the IP Act any reproduction, translation, adaptation, modification, public performances, public distribution can be authorised only by the owner of IP rights as per his economic rights and on the grounds of his moral rights he is the only one who can authorise ‘to have his name indicated prominently on the copies, to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to his work etc.’ Talking from a musician’s point of view Soundarie noted that artistes are more concerned about moral rights rather than economic rights as they treat their creations with high regard and respect.

However, with the increase of counterfeit products artiste’s rights are infringed as their work is not given the value they should be given. Counterfeit music CDs and DVDs have become a major threat to artistes’ IP rights as detection and monitoring of counterfeiting has proven to be an uphill task. Small boutiques which produce and sell counterfeit products spring up like mushrooms everyday.
“Compared to the past I think our artistes are aware of their rights now but I think they need to gain more awareness. Its not only counterfeiting that affects the artiste’s creation. Sometimes artistes might claim that another person has stolen or copied his work. All these fall under violations of copyright law.
“Sometimes recording labels buy over their rights for a small amount and the artiste is deprived of the proper value of his work.

“In countries like USA artistes are more aware and they have agents who look into these but here since the industry is small I think artists do not strictly look into these matters,” she explained.
In Sri Lanka there is more emphasis given to trademarks and trademark registration though we have laws to protect other forms of IP as well. However, as the increase of counterfeit products is not only in artistic work, but also in computer software the need to focus on copyright laws have become essential. The impact of violation of IP rights not only carries consequences for the artiste’s originality, but the commercial consequences too will hit the Sri Lankan market. The quality of artistes’ work diminishes as the room for economic growth closes in when counterfeiting rises.

As a veteran musician Soundarie noted that even a performance without the original artiste’s permission will infringe IP rights. Section 13 of the Act says that both economic and moral rights of the artiste are protected for the lifetime of the author and for a further period of 70 years from the date of his death.
In Sri Lanka a few years ago an amateur production of The Phantom of the Opera had to be cancelled as the performance would have been a violation of Andrew Llyod Webber’s rights since no performing rights had been obtained by the producers. One could also pay royalties once permission is obtained and go ahead with a performance, provided an amateur production is allowed. Some of the musicals showing on Broadway do not have any performing rights in other parts of the world.
“In USA they are very strict particularly about copyrights. In the case of A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc, United States Court of Appeals stated that downloading music was an infringement of copyrights. The Napster Company which provided access for downloading music was held to be liable of contributory and vicarious infringement of the plaintiffs’ (claimants’) copyrights.

Violations of copyrights are a threat not only to artistes, but also to authors of intellectual and creative works. In the academic world and also in journalism, IP rights have to be highly regarded but often there are instances where people are accused of plagiarism. Especially students and sometimes even journalists tend to have a blurred view about the boundaries of plagiarism. ‘Copy pasting’ has become a popular phenomena and an easy way out of producing well-researched pieces of original work. Plagiarism destroys every notion of originality and exhibits an unprofessional nature which affects a person’s integrity and trust. However, more importantly it is not only a moral issue but also a legal issue as it amounts to violation of copyright laws.

According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary stealing and passing of one’s ideas or words as your own, using another’s work without crediting the source, producing another’s work as new ideas and committing literary theft amounts to plagiarism. There can be many forms of plagiarism and it can sometimes be unintentional. The website www.plagiarism.org points out that, terms like copying and borrowing might undermine the seriousness of the offence of plagiarism.

Soundarie noted that the notion of fair use is also in the Act. Section 11 of the Act says that it will not be a violation for copyrights if the act comes under the notion of fair use. However the notion of fair use is determined by four factors. Courts will decide whether its fair use or not by looking at the purpose or character of the use of the work, the nature of copying, the amount and substantiality and the effect of the use on the market value of the work.

However, one cannot escape liability by using the notion of fair use as a defence if plagiarism is committed. Even newspapers carry the responsibility of crediting the sources even where photographs are considered. Even if some work is in the public domain it is always ethical and safe to mention the source which carried that particular work. With the use of internet plagiarism has become much easier. Teachers are especially skilled in spotting what is your writing and what is not and the consequences will ultimately affect ones integrity. In universities it might be a rejection of the research paper and if you are employed and caught committing plagiarism even disciplinary action will be on way.


What amounts to plagiarism?

Copying and pasting portions (big or small) from a web site, log, magazine etc. It will still be plagiarism even if a few words are changed here and there.
Buying articles from the internet. Even if the paper or article is bought from a website you will still be liable as presenting another’s work as yours will be an infringement of copyrights.
Self plagiarising – submitting your own work which you presented before for in another occasion without mentioning that it is a previously completed work.
Things that need citation:
Information taken from any source; books, websites, blogs ect
Terms and ideas that you borrowed and wrote in your won words
Images, graphics, illustrations used in you work
Direct quotes
Interviews or conversation you had with someone is used in your work
Songs or videos added in you work
(Source: karenthelibrarian.files.wordpress.com 2010/03/plagiarism-handout.pdf)
Soundarie pointed out that the main reason why copyrights are infringed especially in developing countries when it comes to counterfeit products is because of the degree of affordability. “Counterfeit products are becoming popular because not every can afford an original DVD or a publication. The best solution is to have original works at an affordable price. Warner Brothers were working on this project where they were planning to give special rates for countries like us to mitigate this problem. Similarly the publications should do the same thing. The Indian publications are affordable so maybe we can encourage having more of affordable original works in the market,” she said.
However, as an artiste Soundarie emphasised the importance of being original. “Whether you are a musician or a writer it is always important to maintain you originality. If you are using another’s work it is always professional to get permission and if it is in the public domain to cite the source. Then plagiarism and other forms of copyright infringements can be eliminated.” Further she noted that strict enforcement of law and judicial activism will be important to make the best use of the IP Act.
Although the law plays a huge role in preventing IP violations it seems that it is up to each individual to remain liable for their actions. If one plagiarises it will be in his conscience that the work he presented is not original. If one uses a music piece of another and presents it as his own he will know that he is not an original artiste. It seems that the very notion of IP rests on how far he is willing to maintain his honesty and integrity.


When lightning strikes

By Shabna Cader
As rarely and often as lightening strikes, it is a natural disaster and causes destruction as much as numerous deaths around the globe. On an average, over 30 people die in Sri Lanka from being struck by lightning per year but it is possible that the actual figures are much higher. The number of injured people would roughly account to over 50 people on an average per year or more. There is also a tremendous amount of damage to property during thunderstorms. Changing weather patterns can cause extreme thunderstorms which can also cause forest fires. Fortunately none have been reported in Sri Lanka. On the whole, the damage caused by lightning intensifies and is great depending on where and what time of the year.

With the increase in population, use of electrical and electronic devices, the risk of being struck by lightning is far greater than before. With the increase in the use of mobile phones, the number of telecommunication towers that have been erected over the years has also increased. A rise in the exposure of buildings, towers and other institutes to the atmosphere and improper planning in construction, are also factors that enhance lightening hazards.

Deaths caused when struck by lightning or during lightning activity is mainly due to the fact that precautionary steps are not taken to reduce or avoid the danger caused by lightning. It doesn’t matter where the individuals might be; lightning can be threatening to those outdoors as well as indoors. Some deaths and accidents could be avoided had precautions been taken during the planning and construction of the house; at times location and physical properties could enhance lightning activity in area and cause hazards.

Lightening activity over Sri Lanka peak during the two inter-monsoon seasons of March-April and October-November. During these seasons, people need be aware of heavy and convective clouds that appear smaller, a hundred yards to several miles across, mostly during late afternoon and evening. These well-developed clouds produce thunderstorms under any atmospheric condition so it is difficult to confirm activity, strength and intensity of lightening. The development of thunder clouds and therefore lightening activity, frequency and intensity, etc. depend on a number of meteorological parameters and geographical parameters of a location.

According to research and surveys conducted by the Department of Meteorology, the month of April shows the highest amount of thunder and lightning. The electric current of a ground lightning flash is about 25,000 Amperes (25,000 A) and the potential difference between a charged cloud and the earth is about 100 million Volts. Therefore the energy of a lightning flash bringing 5 coulombs to ground is about 500 million Joules.

It is important that necessary steps are taken by the public to ensure safety, to avoid or at least minimize the harms caused by lightening. Like rainfall or any other type of weather change, lightning activity is unpredictable and can strike at any time of the day and night. Lone buildings or towers are most likely to be directly struck by lightning. When there is lightning activity in the vicinity, its best that all electronic and electrical instruments are disconnected. The public have also been advised on several occasions not to use sharp and pointed object or even stand close to metal structures and wire fences. It is also best if there is limited or no use of mobile and telephones. Do not loiter in open areas like a barren garden or paddy field. Even riding in an open vehicle like a bicycle can be hazardous. Avoid being immersed in water too.

The lifespan of a thundercloud is 30 minutes and fatal lightning occurs for less than half of that time. It is important to note that the first lightning flash and the flash that follows after a short break can cause the most damage.

However it is important to note that there is no danger in touching, holding or carrying a person that has been struck by lightning. Most people tend to misinterpret this factor but there is no hazard in providing aid to another that might need quick attention. During lightning activity, it is advisable to sit down or lie down, thereby reducing the effective height of the body. A strike by lighting does not always mean it would result in death; that depends on the path of the lightning discharge through the body as well as the intensity of its current.

Remote sensing with the use of satellite and other highly sophisticated monitoring techniques is being used to track and predict extreme weather conditions like thunderstorms and possible lightning activity. Such advance warning systems have already helped save lives and limit damage. However the Department of Meteorology is not as well equipped. Regardless, in the past they have devoted their service to spreading awareness on how to stay well protected during a storm or whilst there is lightning activity in areas which have led to a decrease in the death toll and physical damage to property and land. Last week they issued a warning of lightning threats, advising the public to be careful and minimise the dangers associated with lightning.

According to a recent report from the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) Deputy Director Darmasiri de Alwis, an island-wide study will be conducted on accidents due to lightning activity in close proximity to telecommunication towers. The study is to commence in Kalutara. The TRC has also requested the public to provide the TRC any information they posses pertaining to lightening accidents near Telecom towers on 0112 68 93 45 or on the fax number 0112 67 21 95. The Department of Meteorology is also open to provide information and clarify inquiries at any time.


Of papaw and pineapples

By Rukshana Rizwie
I hope you’ve been getting plenty of rest and relaxation during the holidays. Pregnancy can be both a time of extreme joy and anxiousness about the big day. Soon enough the joy of creating a life and knowing that there’s a miracle in the making will surpass all of the big (and little) irksome aspects, be it morning sickness or mood swings.
So hopefully this column has been able to enlighten you and ease your worries about all things pregnancy. One of the most common myths I’ve personally come across is one to do with Papaw and Pineapples. So I’ve done some digging and there are the straight.

The old wives say that if you are pregnant or trying to conceive avoid eating papaw. People believe that the fruit has properties which can cause complications like a miscarriage or abortion. Scary to say the least, but truth of the matter is that belief is partially true. Partially…
An unripe papaw or semi ripe is said to be rich in concentrated latex substance which would act like oxytocin or prostaglandin which are used for the induction of labour. Synthetic prostaglandin, oxytocin or cinto as its called here are commonly used to start or strengthen labour contractions. If you are having a papaw or just did, we’d hate to have you thinking you would go into labour, just make sure to have the ripe ones and in moderation.
Meanwhile a well ripe papaw is rich in nutrients and vitamins, so much that it’s known to help ease indigestion. That is because papaw contains papain or vegetable pepsin found in the fruits latex and leaves, an enzyme which helps to control constipation and heartburn.

Another fruit that is shunned from a pregnant woman is pineapple. Juice, pickle or cooked, it’s a big no-no. But what is it about this fruit that has everyone on edge? Pineapple is known to contain Bromelain which can soften the cervix and large quantities of it can result in diarrhea, problems which are not to be taken lightly for a growing womb. While some women have had no problems, the vast majority say that you should eat it in moderation and watch for any problem signs before your due date.
There is very little hard scientific evidence to prove the above, but then again these are myths and those were the facts.
Due to the many mixed views about the safety of consuming papaw and pineapple during pregnancy, many prefer to avoid it especially during the first trimester. At the end of the day it is but a personal decision and one that can be made after consulting your doctor.