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Opium Wars: 3.0

I am going to try, yet again, to make Architects angry and see if they get together.

#Architecture #IndianInstituteOfArchitects #IIA # CouncilOfArchitecture #COA #SoftwarePiracy

As I happen to have engaged with two professions, architecture and law, I am (yet again) approached by architects who are receiving threat calls from a vendor of a software product they “use”.

I am seeing the same “opium war” being replayed yet again, on the weakest of all “professions” that India has; and, this time, I am just watching it with amusement, as where we stand as a sovereign nation vis-a-vis IPR is almost comic.

First it as AutoDesk and now it is another software maker, threatening arrest to architects on the pretext of “Under Section 63B of the Indian Copyright Act 1957 (“the Act”), the use of unlicensed software is a cognizable and non-bailable criminal offence.”

The way of operations is simple. Snoop the emails and claim “We understand from our cumulative reports and heat maps that the usage of SketchUp is rampant at your premises.” Raid architect’s office. Threaten arrest under copyright act. And make him force-buy the software at exorbitant rates.

Viva Berne convention !!!!!

The ploy of all these software players working in Indian market is so wonderfully similar to opium wars that it is impossible not to remember them.

Stripped down to basics, in early nineteenth century, Briton ensured that opium reached Chinese masses cheaply enough to get them addicted. Once that objective was achieved, they controlled the market at will and exploited China.

When Chinese authorities tried intervening, Briton forced their will through opium wars, making it one of the greatest examples of exploitation of a nation through unethical use of military might for commercial gain. Something that whites have a panache for and are appearing to excel using modern means.

Today, the software companies are playing the exact same game, this time it is “Berne convention” replacing “Treaty of Nanking”.

The ploy is to wait till their softwares are pirated and enter Indian market and become industry standards. Once masses get “addicted” to these softwares, companies move in waving their personal interpretation of “Berne convention” and copyright laws of India.

With matter being “technical”, they manage to have a unilateral interpretation of the software having been put to commercial use that they use to evoke threat of arrest, often with the help of police.

They force-enter premise of architects and claim “commercial use” based on registry presence of pirated software, very often installed by trainees and staff. With arrest threat, users are forced to buy the software at the rate demanded by the company.

While it is clear that this is day-light robbery possible because people don’t understand law and are arm-twisted misusing threat of arrest, I am now almost certain that there is no way to fight this till we become a sovereign nation that can stand up to blackmail (and slap fines like EU does to Google or Facebook) and look at interests of its citizens.

Till then, all I request all Architects to understand that they have failed to rise up to be a profession as they simply lack a representative body. Both, Council of Architecture (COA) and Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) appear as they are amateur bodies of casual enthusiasts.

You need a active and proactive professional body to represent you that you simply don’t have, so all you can do is to pay up to the demands as no one is going to come to the aid of a profession that has no cohesion or a professional body representing it.

We are still a slave third world nation who can’t see the game of first world. Our government is too busy on other fronts to understand the neo-colonialism of commerce that we are subjected to.

So, please sit back and enjoy the ride. By the time you must be used to being used by everyone 🙂

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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