Indian drama in Canadian polls: Delhi filmmaker alleges copyright violation

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS,

Toronto : Delhi-born Gemini Award-winning filmmaker Ali Kazimi has alleged that Canada’s ruling Conservative Party has violated his copyrights by using an image from one of his films to woo South Asians in the on-going campaign for the May 2 elections.

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According to Kazimi, who is also associate professor in the department of film production at York University here, Sikh MP Tim Uppal of the ruling Conservative Party is using a copyrighted image from his film ‘Continuous Journey’ without permission.

The image pertains to the famous Komagata Maru incident in the history of Indo-Canadian community in this country. A Japanese ship, Komagata was hired by a wealthy Malaysian Sikh Gurdit Singh to bring 376 Indians to Canada in 1914 to break its racist laws barring entry of Indians. But after two months’ wait in Vancouver Port, the ship was sent forcibly back to India.

According to Kazimi, the image in question is a unique photo-montage based on two archival photographs documenting the Komagata Maru incident. He said he designed the montage for publicity of his 2004 award-winning feature documentary ‘Continuous Journey’ about the Komagata Maru episode.

He said he discovered last week that his photo montage was being used without his permission as the opening shot in Sikh MP Tim Uppal’s campaign commercial called ‘Tim – South Asian.’

In the commercial, the photo-montage is presented as a shot in documentary film being watched by Tim Uppal on a home theatre screen. The image then cuts to a colour photo of Prime Minister Stephen Harper standing with hands folded against a backdrop of the Golden Temple.

The filmmaker said despite his repeated requests to the party to desist from continuing to use his work “the Conservative party is still using the imagery in its campaign.”

Kazimi said, “I do not want my film or publicity images for it to be associated in any manner with this campaign. In addition to the copyright infringement, it is inappropriate to use images of this infamous incident to romanticize the early South Asian experience in Canada.”

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at [email protected])