The Copyright Office however is a completely different story. Our latest RTI Application asking for information on the International Copyright Order, 1999 and the Copyright Societies dispatched on the 28th of February, 2011 has still not been replied to. In the application I clearly explained to the Public Information Officer that he was required to send us a cost estimate on the photocopying charges and dispatch the information on receipt of the amount, all within 30 days. Till date we have not received a single reply from the Copyright Office, despite the India Post website confirming that the letter was delivered to them on the 3rd of March, 2011 itself. The RTI Act requires the Copyright Office to reply within 30 days.
In normal circumstances I would not have used this as damning evidence but let me relate some of our previous experiences with the Copyright Office.
I had filed the very first RTI Application requesting for information on the Copyright Societies in July, 2010. The PIO V.K.Saxena replied with the ridiculous answer that the information was available on the website. Eventually after appeals and a lot of emails we finally got the information six months later in January, 2011! Why this delay? Who was the Copyright Office trying to protect? Why did they make this so difficult for us?
Now even after I got the information on IPRS and PPL, I shockingly discovered that somebody within the Copyright Office had removed the 6 most incriminating pages from the file that was sent to me. If you click over here you’ll see IPRS’s annual report for the year 2006-07. The covering letter from Rakesh Nigam CEO of IPRS to Mr. Raghavendra, Registrar of Copyright mentions as its first enclosure, the Minutes of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the year in which IPRS carried out the illegal amendments to the Articles of IPRS. The Minutes however were missing from the copy sent to us. It is however confirmed that the Copyright Office had received copies of the minutes because if you look at the upper right hand corner you can see the copyright office internal file numbering and 6 pages are missing as per this numbering. After an email to the Registrar pointing this out to the PIO Mr. V.K.Saxena, we were sent the six incriminating pages, which we then blogged about over here. These six pages do not bear the Copyright Office internal file numbering. I don’t know where Saxena got these from.
I would have thought that V.K.Saxena would have learnt something about the RTI Act in the last 6 months but once again the moment we ask for information pertaining to the Copyright Societies, we hit a wall of silence.
The Copyright Office should realize that in this season of PILs, scams and allegations of corruption it will very, very, very easy to get a High Court or even the Supreme Court to investigate the happenings in the Copyright Office especially since the Copyright Office has not even bothered to investigate the obvious scandal at IPRS despite the revelation of hard evidence on this blog. I for one do not have the patience to file any more appeals to the Registrar of Copyright. There will however be consequences for Mr. Saxena’s actions or rather the lack of them.