Tuesday, September 06, 2005

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’

Salam Shirin

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.


me said...

Nope, it wasn't boring. It actually had enough strong feelings behind it that the reader (aka me!) could feel ;)
As for ur last post: more people than those that left U comments got strong feelings from it. It just might have been that what was to be said has been already said by others :) wish U the best. . .
(BTw, love ur illustrations and "the other website" with ur works)

PS. I guess what Mr F might ahve tried to say was that u have singled out the Iranians (we can all agree on the inexistance of any copyright laws in Iran!) in their "non-respect for copyright" but this is just wide-spread around the world. You could have as well added "dear Chinese friends, copyright doesn't mean". . .but then I guess U were just writing because of ur "specific strong cases" in the past ;)

Farzad "Cat" said...

I'm an Iranian too and I'm not insulted by the copyright message. Nowadays, U need 2 remind people of certain things, or else they would step on your toes. I actually find the message friendly and funky.

Anonymous said...

For Gods Sake some one tells me what is "fair" in this world? let alone copyright and other stuff.

GazanKhan said...

Hi, before I read and comment on this I need a favor my friend: please tell me how do you find out that how many visitors you have for a certain post. The status in the profile shows the number of the visitors absolutely and strangely randomly! from 8 to 12 to 22 to 48 to 68 and form two weeks ago it's 131(!) and any time it may change to, Idon't know, 217 or 199??!(!) What is this? Do you have any idea.

Anonymous said...

cliff notes please.

Anonymous said...

I must say that I agree with you both, Shirin and Mr.F.
Of course we all know that we should respect each other's rights, The Copy right and all other rights. And I know that when Shirin wrote that about copy right, she meant that as a joke which is funny too now that I think of it.
But here is a more deep and important matter to be considered that we all know in our hearts but some times we forget, and that is about the LAW and the RULES. What are these things and who has invented these absolutely necessary concepts?
With all that killing and destroying power that some people have so that they can do, and they are doing what ever they wish, to other people, when some poor desperate guy explodes himself from anger and despair and kills a few innocents as the result (maybe he does that because he is so badly oppressed and he cannot do anything about that, he cannot do anything about anything else too in fact, so may be he does that just to attract the "happy well to do people’s attention.) But the all powerful and rich gets mad and shouts at the poor little guy, with a home made bomb,:Come out and fight like a man! Attacking us when we are not ready is foul! it's against the rules, it's against the international laws.
Listen! if you kill an elephant in your own country to feed your family, people from all over the world will condemn your crime and talk about it in the national TVs and newspapers for at least a month(the real reason by the way is because they want to kill the poor elephants themselves on their Safari! Yes my friends don’t let them fool you like they have fooled so many honest kind people around the world.) But when some one bomb and kill all the thirty-eight guests in a wedding ceremony, they just say: Oops! sorry an honest mistake. And that's the end of it; and they do not hesitate to repeat this kind of barbaric act. These are the rules my friends the laws of the powerful, like all the laws all over the world at all times, it is not something new at all, and that's why the ancient people had to invent the moral codes in the hope of controlling the ruthless powerfuls who wanted all the goodies for themselves, to put a harness on them when there was actually nothing to stop them. At our time those morale rules do not work as they used to do, so the world is getting more and more dangerous for the "not powerful". Poor people don't have to take what ever the powerful says too seriously, don't you think so my friends? By the way, I know that Shirin is not the kind of person one could blind in any way, she's very smart as her writing shows and very human too, I'm not saying these obvious things to her, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Dobareh Salam(Hello again) Dear Shirin
This is Mr.F who is writing again. First of All I do mind that you put my email to you on your blog without asking me first. My email was a private matter and was sent to you. So I would appreciate it if you would ask me before putting it on your blog.
Secondly you altered the signature of my email. I singed it with a my own name. So it wasn’t any anonymous email. I did that because of the respect for you and of respect for free and equal dialog. I know your name so you should know mine when I wrote to you. It’s a matter of equality. So I signed it with my name, my real name actually. You wanted to protect my identity on the Internet, which I really appreciate, so you could choose a regular iranian first- and family name not with Mr.F.

Any way….I read your answer to my email on your blog and in many point I’m agree with you. You are talking about situation in Iran. Come on, they stone people to death for adultery, can you believe that? So many things are wrong in Iran, sure it is. I don’t want to be blind or deaf.
My whole point was why to mention one nationality. Most copyright violation occurs in China by the way and very systematic indeed. So why not mentioning them?

You asked me, so called Mr.F, some question on your blog about if I have paid in( a proper way) for my software and books and so on. I live and work in Sweden and because I believe in welfare system so I pay my taxes, all of them, do recycling, sort my garbage, bike or walk to work in order to save environment and pay for software, books, music and films. And if sometimes I copy some music? Yes I do, sometimes I want to be bad!!

Any way, Dear Shirin, please don’t put my real name on your blog.
You know my name and my email so if there is anything you wonder so please do write an email.
Keep up with the good work and have a nice day.

Eradatmande shoma(Yours sincerely ) S.E so called Mr.F

Shirin said...

Thanks for all your comments everyone. Unfortunately as I write this I am being shouted at and dragged away from the computer by my cousin. This as you may very well have guessed is making it impossible for me to write anymore. I’ll be back later tonight or tomorrow and will answer to each of your comments then.

Behrooz said...

I updated Under Western Sky with a post regarding this copy righ issue.

graceonline said...

I visited your blog because I was curious about the person who posted some thoughtful comments on mine, and I have to say, this post kept my attention all the way to the end--not the tiniest bit boring! Your writing carries me along like a frisky colt. Thank you!

Shirin said...

Thank you Graceonline. I hope you had a good time at your daughter’s wedding. I look forward to your next post.

Shirin said...

Hi Me, Thanks for your comment. I have visited your blog many times and enjoy reading your posts a lot.

Again my darling teacher, is it even worth trying to explain how in my view your comment is so totally ridiculous? As you may very well have guessed, I am a logical person. As for you, it seems you have taken a vow to always try and get your point across via the most illogical way of all. I don’t even know where to begin to tell you what is so absolutely wrong with an argument that begins with, ‘What is "fair" in this world?’

Ghazankhan, I will send you an email about that with all the details.

Shirin said...

Dear Mr F, I really can’t see why you would be upset over me calling you Mr F? I did not give you a proper name so people would know that I was not disclosing your identity. Had I been calling you Hassan Vaziri or Gholamali Bandari, people might have thought that was the person that wrote the letter which would not be fair on the real Hassan Vaziri or Gholamali Bandari. Still obviously you did not like being called Mr F and so I apologise.
As for your argument I think it’s pretty much the same one as the Teacher’s; ‘Come on, they stone people to death for adultery…’ Therefore obviously I should not complain about my artwork being stolen! Do you seriously believe this yourself? And where does this argument end? Is it right for me to go to Iran and go round kicking people in the shin and when they complain I just shrug my shoulders and say, ‘Come on they stone people to death here what are you complaining about?’
How about if a Taxi driver from Tehran is complaining about his taxi being stolen? Will your reply to him be, ‘Come on they stone people to death over here, what do you expect?’ or will you sympathise with him knowing that his whole livelihood has been stolen? I’m pretty sure your reaction will be the second one. So why exactly is it that when people are complaining about their artwork being stolen, suddenly their problem seems so ridiculous and even laughable? Is it not true that just as the Taxi driver’s whole livelihood is his taxi, my whole livelihood is my art and if someone steals that I become just as desperate as the taxi driver?
As for all those questions I asked you on here Mr F (about your software and music and everything), as I said on my post as well, I was not attacking you individually and I am very sorry if you got the impression that I was. The way I saw it by calling you Mr F I was no longer talking to you, I was just talking to anyone who was reading this. I am not the kind of person that makes stupid assumptions about a person they do not know from Adam based on a single email. I still apologise if I gave you the impression that I was making all those comments about you.
As for why I did not say, ‘…my fellow Iranians and my fellow Chinese…’, I have to say that of course I too have heard about the Chinese having copyright issues but since in all my life I have ever only known two Chinese people personally and neither of them have become very close friends of mine and also because I do not know much about the Chinese culture and their way of life, I did not feel it was appropriate for me to call the Chinese my fellows and make jokes about a nation I knew so little about.
Plus I really dislike this way of thinking that a lot of Iranians have that goes like this, ‘So and so does it so why can’t we?’ As my grandmother always used to say, ‘If so and so goes and throws him/herself off a cliff, will you do it too?’

This comment is just getting too long. I had some other things that I wanted to say in reply to that anonymous comment and also Behrooz’s post but unfortunately I don’t have time for that right now so that’s coming soon.

Roya said...

First of all what an interesting weblog!

The way you write reminds me “Funny in Farsi” by Firouzeh Dumas. If you have not read the book I recommend it. It is indeed funny. Now let’s get to business!!!!
I strongly agree with you on copyright issue. Your given examples were very obvious and simple and true! The fact is that we do not think that printing or copying a photo or a story or a song or whatever work of art is STEALING!!!! We consider it zerangy or simply are NOT aware that there are rules about such matters. But then, when the state radio & TV stations broadcast music and songs by people without their permission (Farhad & Shajarian) what do you expect of ordinary people? I must add though that, although a bit vague and not very transparent, there IS a copyright law in Iran which was approved in 1340 or thereabouts. Of course we still have a very long way to go to reach to the point that people wont get surprised if someone like your father does not get happy if his work is published without permission, but it will be the other way round, i.e. they will be surprised if someone’s work is published without permission.

About this “let’s hate Arabs” business, although I have not read Mr. Teacher’s comments, (and I have no intention of doing so) I agree with your answers and ask myself: Isn’t there a small Hitler in some of us?

By the way, next time you want to cook loobia polo (in dream or reality) go ahead and make it with drumsticks. It’s yummy, I assure you. “Dar zemn”, whenever you forget an ingredient in a dish, don’t worry, add some exotic and completely irrelevant ingredient and give the dish an exotic name like Canary Islands beef stew which might actually be Ghormeh Sabzi when you find out that you do NOT have any sabzi!!!! Meat, beans, limoo amani and fried onion will suffice. Add half a packet of mushroom (or whatever) soup powder to make it less watery and… well, what the heck! A spoonful of curry powder!!!! Hihihi I would love to see Kamyar’s face after the first spoonful!!!!

Ricia said...


First of I want to say that coming across your blog is a treat (thanx) and I shall be sure to bookmark ya for future reads.

As an artist myself, I can understand your perspective regarding copywright. However, there is another (larger) perspective in this regard that I feel should be emphasized; More often than not, copywright is a tool of hyper-protectionism in favour of corporate interests. It was created specifically due to lobbying from such sources and has caused the world a fair chunk of injustices and failings. An easy example to drum up is that of designs for alternative energy vehicles, which were bought up and tucked away for the first 30 years of the developement of the motor vehicle in order to (self) protect interests (profits and monopoly) in the petroleum and manufacturing industry. Another easy example is the exploitation of minorities in the arts and entertainment industry (most famously, by Elvis Presley's agent for eg - but only as one eg), not to mention the use of copywright to restrict the utilization of ideas (intellectual property).

We are too oft led to believe that the issue is that of protecting 'the little people' whereas it is the 'trickle-up' concept that is being protected. One could in fact argue that it is the interests of the 'middle-man' and the 'producer/investor' that is most being considered - not the individual from whom the item in question originated. The music and literary industries present a good case in this regard. Just as it is that an art gallery provides public space and promotion, yet makes 50 to 80 percent of the profit from a sale of works they were not responsible for creating and without which, their business would not exist - this is a good metaphor for the nature of the businesses whose interests are fiercely protected by copywright.

The computer and software industry; this technology has become a staple tool for developing familiarity and skills essential in the Western world especially, but now increasingly on a global level, for employment (not to mention access to information and education). Numbers of households with computers are used in statistics to represent a populations quality of life and define class gaps. Why should this evermore so vital mode of production be so costly, especially if one considers the mantra that high demand creates more supply at a lessor expense (myth, of course)?

The monopoly on hardware/software production has created the world richest men (individuals richer than entire nations). Surely a tool that has become such a necessity in the plight toward sustaining a fair quality of life should be a public, and no longer a private, matter? Though I myself am not convinced the technology has in anyway contributed to 'real' quality of life matters, it is undebatable when speaking of income potential. I applaud the rebels in this industry specifically (but also in other industries of this nature) whom provide the 'have-nots' with access.

Copywright is a complex legal issue that is outdated, unreformed, prejudiced and harmful to entire swaths of various populations, the environment, and perpetuates the disparity between classes around the world. It needs a serious overhaul before it will reflect the (good or well intended) values you have attributed to it.

My long-winded, two-cents.

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Anonymous said...

You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view

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