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Prabhupada's Videos - Who Owns Them
By Jada Bharata Dasa

I have seen several articles about Brahmananda and Garga Muni selling videos of Srila Prabhupada. First of all I think it is a little strange complaining about someone selling Srila Prabhupada videos.

My question is who really owns the videos anyway? I don't really see how the selling of Srila Prabhupada's videos compares with Srila Prabhupada's books, which were published by the BBT. My understanding is that legally the photographer who takes a video owns the video, not the person who edits and sells the video. While according to copyright laws the person who writes a book is the owner of the book and it is their sole decision on who publishes the book and how it is distributed.

One exception I believe to this is that the photographer when selling the video must claim ownership of the video, but this does not mean that just because someone else claims ownership to the video just because they edited it that they own it. I have heard that if no ownership is claimed (only the true owner can legally claim ownership), that the ownership of the video passes to the public domain. If someone knows what the actual law is, I would love to know what it is.

Most likely the main reason that the videos were taken was to take pictures of Srila Prabhupada, but also many other devotees are also in those videos, including Garga Muni and Brahmanada (who are in many of the videos). I would think that legally that just because the videos were mainly taken to show Srila Prabhupada that does not give someone the legal right to say they own the video and therefore only they can sell them, considering the fact that so many other people are in the videos. Under this argument, what right does ITV have to say that they own the video, and therefore they are the only controllers of their sales? The real question is who took the video and who did they give the right to produce and market the videos.

Maybe in the past ITV was given the right to edit and sell the videos by the GBC. Is there a resolution to this effect? If so, when was this resolution made, and what exactly does the resolution say? My actually question is who gave the right to ITV to sell Srila Prabhupada's videos? It is obvious who gave BBT the right to publish Srila Prabhupada's book, and that was Srila Prabhupada himself, who was the author of the books. But did Srila Prabhupada or anyone with authority ever give ITV the right to be the only one to send videos that have Srila Prabhupada in them.

This is not to say that I don't highly appreciate the work that has been done by the devotees at ITV, but work itself does not judge ownership. Many devotees worked for years on producing Srila Prabhupada's book, but I have never seen one of them claim ownership of any of his books.

My understanding is that the photographer of the video is the actually owner. Does ITV have signed agreements that they get all the profit from the sales of these videos? Maybe the actually owner of the video (the photographer) should get the profits. But most likely I would think the photographers of Srila Prabhupada's video did not do them for profit, but wanted to spread the glories of Krishna (what better way than to hear Srila Prabhupada speak), so I would think that many of the photographers would be glad that devotees were selling the videos in large quantities at low prices (not small quantities at high prices), so large quantities of devotees can have a set of them.

One point is that the cost to produce, edit, and make a video has become much cheaper over the last few years, so a question is how much should someone get for doing such service now, versus in the past. Many devotees have given up years of their life in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, and which one of us are asking anything in return.

One argument could be that ITV wants to sell Srila Prabhupada's videos so they can use the profits to produce other videos in order to spread Krishna consciousness. But what video could be anywhere near as important as one of Srila Prabhupada's videos. I personally don't think that any videos can be as important as Srila Prabhupada's videos and that the only really thing that matter is that that are distributed in large quantities. I believe that it is much better to send the video cheaply and in large quantities than to use the profit (if that is what the profits are actually being used for) to produce any other video. I believe that the sales of these videos is the actual "ends to the means. "

So I believe that ITV should answer the following questions and until they do any of their arguments are weak.

1. Who actually owns the video and why? 2. What is their plan on how to sell the video so many devotees can get the association of the pure devotee? 3. Why does ITV thinks they own the videos, by legal definition (not just moral)? 4. Does the photographers legally own the videos, no one own the video, BBT own the videos, ISKCON own the videos, or does ITV own the videos? 5. Has ISKCON or the actually owner of the videos given ITV the right to produce, sell and receive the profit of the videos and if so where and when?

Your servant,
Jada Bharata Dasa

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