So 307 people have visited this site since I wrote my last post and out of all of them only five people felt strongly enough about what I had said to leave a comment. And since only three out of the five commenters were Iranian (with one being my own husband), I couldn’t help thinking that I had touched on a sensitive issue there and had maybe upset some of my fellow countrymen. So when I received the following email today, I thought, ‘What the hell, while we’re at it why not have a go at this subject as well and alienate the rest of the Iranians too.’
This is the email I received and it’s about what I have written at the bottom of my homepage www.shirinadl.co.uk just under ‘© 2005 Shirin Adl’
Surfing on the Internet och checking link after link then I got to your Internet site. Very well done, it’s a very good page and the content is very good. Just wanted to say that and wish you good luck with developing your site and your art. One thing that I noticed on your site was the;
“And no my fellow Iranians, copyright does not mean the right to copy.” I don’t know the background and why you wrote like this but I found it quite insulting to all Iranian fellows. Of course there is lot of problems in Iran and with Iranian. But writing like this makes it look that just Iranian who doesn’t understand the concept of copyright or they violate it. Copyright issues is a global problem and many people who work with art and design suffer by people who doesn’t respect that.
So as far as I can see it’s not just Iranian who ignore it. Any way…
Of course you have right to write what ever you want. It’s a free world. I just wanted to share my opinion about it with you. In any case I think you are a great artist and wish you good luck and success.
Eradatmande shoma Mr F
Before anything else let me just tell you that I love Iran and Iranians with all my heart. But I am not the kind of person that when in love with someone or something becomes completely deaf and blind to all their faults and sees only beauty and goodness.
I know that as Iranians, there are always so many things that we are criticised about that sometimes when we hear something new, we just feel like, ‘Oh please not another one.’ Believe me I know how that feels because I feel like that myself sometimes but still I don’t think that ignoring the problem or sweeping it under the carpet will do anyone any good.
For example if someone comes up to me and says that Iranians are terrible drivers and most of them have no respect for the driving rules and that they think that a more appropriate name for Zebra Crossings in Tehran would be The Killing Fields, since they are very right about all those things, I wont jump down their throat because I am from Tehran and love it so much. Instead I listen and probably get a bit embarrassed thinking, ‘I wish we weren’t like that.’
It’s the same with this copyright thing. The truth of the matter is that in Iran there is absolutely no respect for copyright. Just look around yourself right now as you are reading this Mr F.
Let’s start with your computer. How much did you pay for your Windows? 200 pounds or 2000 toomans (about one pound)? What about your other softwares? How much did you pay for those? What about your music? Do you not download it off the internet for free? How many translated into Farsi books do you have on your bookshelf? Chances are not even a single one of those writers knows that their book has been translated into Farsi.
I hope you don’t take this personally Mr F as I am definitely not attacking you individually and saying this is all your fault, because it really isn’t. I’m just pointing these things out because sometimes when we are so completely surrounded by something, we get so used to it that we do not see it anymore.
You are right in saying that ‘Copyright issue is a global problem’ Yes, it definitely is but I think Iran and maybe a handful of other countries are the only places left in the world where people can do this totally guilt-free and completely legally.
It’s one thing to copy a software or dvd from a friend for your own personal use, it’s another to make a hundred copies and sell them in a shop in Tadjrish.
But maybe in some weird weird way doing all the above in Iran is understandable because maybe there is no other way about it sometimes if you want to stay in touch with the rest of the world (this still doesn’t make it right). But unfortunately it seems these breaches of the copyright act are not unique to the big companies and have become so normal in Iran that people no longer feel like they are doing wrong when they copy someone’s artwork without giving a penny to them or at least even asking their permission. Let me give you a couple of examples.
1- As you know my father, Farokh Saramad is a writer. A few years back one of his fans kept going on at him to take a look at some of his unpublished work. At the end my father gave in and gave a couple of his short stories to this guy to read. Two or three weeks later this same person turned up at our house again with a cheeky smile, looking very pleased with himself and presented my father with a magazine. We couldn’t believe it, he had gone and given the stories to some friends of his and they had printed one of them in the magazine. The funny thing was that this guy had really thought that by doing this he was doing my father a favour and could not for the life of him understand why my father had gotten so furious with him.
2- After I got my degree in illustration here I went back to Iran for a while to work and see how it was. As it happened there was a new children’s magazine coming out and the publishers asked me to do some illustrations for it. So I did a double spread page and got paid eight thousand toomans for it (about five pounds), yippee. But that’s ok because apparently I was lucky to get any money at all and I had known about it from the beginning. What really pissed me off was that they had taken one of the doodles I had done while trying to come up with ideas and without telling me had used it for their logo! Needless to say I became very angry when I saw that. Especially because in my view the thing they had chosen was rubbish and not at all logo material. The funny thing is that when I told them this they said that I needed not to worry about anything like that because no one would ever know that the logo was my work because they were not planning on writing anywhere that it was!
Please someone correct me if I’m wrong but I believe there isn’t a law in Iran that says if your artwork or idea or story is stolen by someone you can take them to court. Even if there is a mild little something about it in our law, I can imagine that if someone goes to the police with this kind of problem they will just be laughed at.
Sorry about writing another long and boring post. I promise my next one which will be about our first bomb fright that happened last night is going to be a lot more entertaining.