Archive for May 15th, 2008

Aamir Khan writes in his blog that the caretaker of his Panchgani house has a dog named Shahrukh. He emphasises that he had nothing to do with the naming of the dog.

I’m sitting under a tree, on the edge of a valley, approximately 5000 feet above sea level. The river Krishna flows far below us snaking its way among the Sahyadri mountains. A cool breeze is blowing, jannat ki hawa (breeze from the heavens), as my mother calls it. Ammi, Ira and Junaid are by my side and we are in the middle of one of our favourite board games ‘Settlers Of Catan’. Shahrukh is licking my feet and I am feeding him biscuits every now and then. What more can I ask for?

Now, before you jump to any conclusions let me add that Shahrukh is the name of our dog. And before you jump to any further conclusions let me add that I had nothing to do with naming him. In fact Shahrukh is the dog of the caretakers of our house. When I bought this house it came with the caretakers and their dog! Apparently Shahrukh (the actor) was shooting for a commercial in this house a few years ago, and that very day the caretakers bought a pup…, and named him Shahrukh. What are the chances of me buying a house which comes with a dog called Shahrukh!!!

Shah Rukh’s supporters (who clearly can’t read) react:

The shocking display of insolent humor has sent shock waves in the otherwise-insulated and unconcerned film industry. Says a very popular character-actor who has worked with both the actors, “I guess the freedom provided by a blog tends to loosen tongues. Amitji has never been known to be as undiplomatic as he’s on his blog. Aamir must have thought it’s time to increase the odds, what if Amitji’s blog gets more eyeballs! Also, his nephew’s film is around the corner. During the release of Taare Zameen Par, Aamir created a controversy by taking on Amitji and Black. Now for the nephew it’s Shah Rukh being called a dog. All I can say is life’s a bitch.”

Shah Rukh remains characteristically unfazed and humorous in the face of his colleague’s uncharitable and tasteless remarks. When this writer expressed shock and indignation at Aamir’s remarks, SRK responded, “Earlier on, people used to name their children after famous people. Somebody naming a dog after a known person is a new beginning in that direction. I don’t have a copyright over this name if used non-commercially.” But a close friend of SRK on promise of anonymity reacted far more aggressively. “Aamir’s megalomania has been brewing for a while. Earlier he declared himself No.1 as compared with SRK who took it smilingly. Now Aamir is down to street-level provocation…”

But it is not just excitable fans who indulge in such mischaracterisations. Big political parties are equally adept at it.

Or perhaps I should be generous and put it all down to cognitive dissonance.  

Update: This blogger goes on a rant about how lowly Aamir is and then links approvingly to my post. What on earth is wrong with the world? Can no one read? Is the stand I take in the above post so hard to gauge? Also see the amazingly nonsensical comment 1 below. This after going through my post.

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Intellectual property laws, such as those relating to copyright or patents, are a source of considerable disagreement among libertarians. The reason is not hard to see. In the words of Rodrick Long,

When libertarians of the first sort come across a purported intellectual property right, they see one more instance of an individual’s rightful claim to the product of his labor. When libertarians of the second sort come across a purported intellectual property right, they see one more instance of undeserved monopoly privilege granted by government.

In this fine article, Long argues against intellectual property laws from a libertarian perspective and points out there are other means (such as laws against fraud) to achieve many of the same results. My position on the matter is less extreme than Long’s. I believe that a case does exist for some intellectual property laws; however I also believe that current laws are more restrictive than is necessary. For instance, there is no justification, in my opinion, for the absurdly long copyright laws that currently exist in the United States (and were passed incidentally, under pressure from media corporations).

The matter is complex and deserves a longer post, which I hope to attempt some day. For now, I’d like to point the reader to the fact that Neil Nataniel is currently guest-blogging at Volokh on what he calls the “copyright paradox”, a reference to the fact that copyright simultaneously enables and restricts free speech. The first two posts are here and here.

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