Ahmedabad-based Navjivan Trust,which owned the copyright of the writings of Mahatma Gandhi since 1948,has no plan to apply for an extension after the exclusive right expired on January 1 this year.
This means that from now on,all of Gandhis writings belong to the public and can be reproduced and used by anyone without the prior consent of Navjivan Trust.
Jitendra Desai,chairman and managing trustee of the trust,said this on Sunday. To follow the rules and never seek an extension of our copyright on Mahatma Gandhis writings was a unanimous decision taken long before the rights had expired, Desai said.
He added that even Gandhiji did not want his writings to be restricted by exclusive rights. In fact,he never wanted his writings to be copyrighted. It was done because his friends and acquaintances insisted, he said.
The trust was given the exclusive right under the provisions of Section 22 of the Copyrights Act,1957,which stipulates that the protection of copyrights automatically lapses 60 years after the death of the author. Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead on January 30,1948.
Amrut Modi (75),secretary of the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust,said that he and the trustees of Navjivan Trust were advised by some well-wishers to seek extension of the rights.
But we never even considered doing so. Gandhiji did not believe in personal inheritances and never wanted copyrights on his work. In fact,he had even mentioned in his weekly journal,Harijan Bandhu,in 1933,how tough it was for him to apply for copyrights on his writings, Modi said.
He added that one of his close friends,Satish Kalelkar,son of Kaka Saheb Kalelkar,had insisted Gandhiji to seek copyrights on his writings.
Modi further said: In 1906,Gandhiji had decided to make his ancestral property at Porbandar,a public property. We have the letter that he had written to his elder brother,saying his children and he did not want to claim rights on his paternal property and that it should be made open to public.
Modi said this would come as a blessing in disguise for all Gandhians across the world. Now,more publishers (from across the world) can publish Gandhijis work and his writings will reach more people, he said.
We will keep publishing Gandhijis writings and make them available to the people at nominal rates like we have been doing for years. We have made all necessary financial arrangements for this, Desai said.
Gandhiji had in his lifetime written several pieces on varied subjects,including five books Hind Swaraj (1909),My Experiments With Truth (1928),Anashakti Yog (Gandhis interpretation of the Bhagvad Gita,1930),Key To Health (1948),and John Ruskins Unto This Last (1956).
The Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad has over 34,000 such letters and documents that run into more than 1.5 lakh pages. This also includes copies of his letters that were auctioned in London.