Wedding industry calls for copyright protection

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The big fat Indian wedding is only getting fatter. Estimated to be a staggering `1,42,596 crore industry, it is growing at a rate of around 25 per cent a year. While it all seems to be a reason to cheer, the issue of wedding copyrights is now a cause of concern for the wedding fraternity.
Jasleen Kochhar is a wedding planner. To give her clients a fair idea of her creativity and designs, she has an interesting website. “However, I was amazed to come across another website where my images, designs and ideas were not just copied but also credited to someone else. I have sued the website owner who had practically copied my wedding website. But the alarming part is that I came across this website by chance. I don’t know how many more such websites are there selling my designs in their name,” says Jasleen from Bougainvilla Design.
The larger-than-life Indian weddings that now boast of Bollywood-style wedding film videos, innovative invitations, exotic cuisines, celebrity dance performances and luxe decorations need to be streamlined, believes the wedding fraternity.
To address the issue, ‘Copyrights of Wedding’, a wedding fraternity meet was hosted by Ferns N Petals recently at Ashok Country Resort, Gurgaon. Vikaas Gutgutia, founder and MD of Ferns N Petals, says, “With time we have realised that a luxuriously designed wedding is the product of creative and intellectual property based on the customised wishes and desires of the customer. Our aim is to safeguard wedding concepts as a property and promote the cause for protecting the rights and efforts that go behind the making of a grand and memorable wedding.”
Michael Menezes, founder of Showtime Group that organises events in weddings, says barely a week after they bring in something new, it’s copied. “And we cannot do anything about it. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) doesn’t exist in our field. And since laws are not in our favour, going to the court is very difficult,” he adds.
Choreographer Terrence Lawrence thinks it’s time to make the industry more professional. “Though I have been a part of Bollywood for long, wedding industry has given me much more. There is lot of money in it and one cannot afford to ignore this segment anymore,” he says.
The average budget for an Indian wedding is estimated to be around `20 lakh while the upper-middle class and rich roughly spend around `5.6 crore.
“Making a high-end Bollywood style wedding film is becoming popular among clients but they ask for some unique element in it. For every assignment I spend as much as five months with the couple to understand their personality, script the video, decide on costume and make-up,” says Mili Ghosh, owner, Memories in Motion.
The pressure of bringing in new ideas is very high and then it being copied makes things harder for us, says fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani. He says the wedding experience is increasingly turning into a disaster. “There are long jams to get in and out of venue, random people roam around and because Indians are never punctual, weddings turn into a tamasha. Therefore, we need to organise the big and growing industry.”
Tahiliani says his trousseau designs are copied every now and then. Legal advisor Umesh Sharma says that no one cares about the law since there is no criminal punishment for copying designs. “Sometimes the offender just walks out of court with a warning,” he says.
While making wedding-design copying an illegal offence and applying IPR laws into place can take time, Vikaas offers a tentative solution for the same. “We are trying to bring in work ethics in our industry. As we are trying to collaborate with more and more wedding planners, designers, artists, caterers, photographers, floral experts, luxury car-rental services, hoteliers, paanwallas and others, we also demand those who copy and use our designs to at least give us due credit. We are working towards bringing these ethics in the industry,” concludes Vivek.

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