Saturday, 8 October 2011

Video piracy - Ananda Shankar Jayant

There is a website that is uploading brief video clippings of Doordarshan recordings as well as DVD clippings of different dancers.


  1. Today I came across Ananda Shankar Jayant's posting in Roses& Thorns, "Video Piracy". Maybe some visitors could have suspected that Ananda is promoting her own videos on Dancingindia. But the posting stirred something in my memory and put a smile on my face.

    It was around 2004 when I was searching for Bharatanatyam videos that had not flooded the Web back then. Specifically I was looking for a few Doordarshan broadcasts, and to my immense pleasure the tapes were being sold on At hefty prices of $50-$100 for a VHS tape. Rani Devi, though, presented her selling these Doordarshan tapes as her social mission of popularizing classical dance in the US and worldwide, almost in a non-profit spirit.

    It was long time before a DVD of Volume 2 (no one knew when or where Volume 1 was released) of Bharatnatyam broadcasts from Doordarshan Archives was officially released. And it was long before the publication of Padma Subrahmanyam's interview where she said she was urging Prasar Bharti to release the classical dance archives. With announcements like on, some dancers were elated. Dance students were trying to get the Bharatiya Natyashastra DVD and were frustrated. What do they do now? All the full episodes of Bharatiya Natyashastra are offered on Dancingindia for quick download, and for a few dollars or euros they can download almost anything. Since the times of Rani Devi's selling the Doordarshan VHS tapes for $50-$100, the prices have gone down so much. Now people don't even buy DVDs as much as before.

    But this is not the point. The point Ananda Shankar Jayant makes is about "piracy". When you hear one of her closest friends telling you that Ananda has more pirated software on her computer than most dancers (let's be honest), you start thinking. Thinking if she is planning to start a Pirate Party in India, to join the worldwide movement that is gaining strength. We all know that the intellectual property rights is a concept alien to our culture.

  2. I totally agree that it is not right on the part of the site owners to upload these videos without the artistes' permissions.

    But I sincerely appreciate the effort that the site has taken in archiving SO MANY videos of artistes of all grades. DD seems to be doing a pathetic job of archiving old videos. They do not have a copy of a legendary production like the "viralimalai kuravanji" dance drama that Dr.Padma, Prof. Sudharani and Chitra Visweswaran together choreographed and presented for DD years ago. I met one of their officers in the annual Chennai book fair and asked him about this. He said that the tape is in a format that cannot be recovered. I was really pained to know that DD couldn't archive a production like that for the next generation to watch and enjoy. So in a way I'm glad that at least someone else has a copy of these videos. Many of the videos hosted in the site are at least a decade old. There is no other way that youngsters like me would get to watch these videos, but for dancing india.

    I again mention that it is absolutely not right for them to be putting up videos of the artistes without their consent. And I'm glad Dr.Ananda brought this up. But I'm just looking at the bright side of it - Someone has these videos for the next generation to watch and enjoy...

  3. Has Dr.Ananda the copyright on her DD videos? No?
    If she doesnt have it, who will ask for her permission?

  4. I don't know why Ananda Shankar Jayant is happy when DD airs her programmes but not happy when Dancingindia does the same.

    Ananda Shankar Jayant's post has many factual errors:

    1.On there are full videos (for paying members). There are also free brief video clippings of Doordarshan recordings as well as DVD clippings of different dancers.

    2. Most of the videos are selling for less than 1 Euro.

    3. If there is no contact address on the site, then what is 'CONTACT@DANCINGINDIA .NET' and Office 8, 5 Craigie Avenue, Timaru, New Zealand ?

    4. Why is it strange that the address is New Zealand but the money is collected in Euros? Most online shops in India accept payments in dollars and/or Euros.

  5. @Madhan
    Legally, it is absolutely right for them to be putting up videos of the artistes without their consent unless the artistes own copy rights of those videos.

  6. I agree with Madhan. I enjoy watching so many dancers from the 1980s on YouTube, when video seems to truly become prevalent. There is really no other way I can watch them. We trust state archives but there are very few ways of taking out of them and disseminating what they have collected. Sadly many dancers themselves show no interest in archiving or simply do not have give it a thought till they find their videos being sold by a third party. And this reluctance to engage and work with video themselves sometimes stems out of the misconception that if they post videos of their work online, no one will watch them live. I have had people tell me that and when I hear such ridiculous statements I can only shake my head in disbelief.

    The site violates performers' rights in not asking them for their permission but what Vinod says might be true - if you've signed over your copyright to someone else it might still be an ethical issue but perhaps not a legal one.

  7. Jayanthi Raman14 October 2011 14:02

    Hey, Ranjana, all dancers themselves show interest in archiving,only for their own students.If they post videos of their work online,people will comment and can criticise them,and not everybody can bear it.Ethical issue is not whether some sites ask dancers for permission.Real ethical and legal issue is why all dancers use pirated software.Looks like "The pot calling the kettle black"!!!!!

  8. Ananda Shankar Jayant is not in a position to talk about "piracy" and "copyright". But when other dancers copy her choreography from her videos, then she should speak. Maybe we will finally learn who she learnt pieces of her choreography from! :))))

  9. On there is one comment, abt Rani Devi and her activities: is still active and seems to be doing brisk business!

    Dr.Ananda should give us her opinion on this.

  10. I am agreeing with Dr Ananda Shankar Jayant. DD must remove from Youtube all DD videos.

    Also Dr Ananda Shankar Jayant must be aware that there are dance gurus like R.L.V Anand copy full items from her dvds, record their own students' recitals of her items and sell these dvds like their own choreographies to customers in the USA and Canada for $400-$600 per 1 dvd. I request Dr Ananda Shankar Jayant to inquire into this matter.

  11. @malavika: you can also request Dr Ananda to make a statement that she is not using any pirated/unlicensed software and has never used it

  12. What a mess! Does Ananda wish she had never posted that thingy in R&T? Smtimes it backfires!

  13. @Ranjana
    Re: "misconception that if they post videos of their work online, no one will watch them live"

    Or like if they appear on DD, no one will watch them alive? What is the difference between posting them online and having them broadcast by DD? Appearing on DD used to be like marking of the entering the elite class of the dancers. Putting these videos alongside with some homemade dance videos online is sacrilegious.

    A dance student cannot learn an item from a DD broadcast but can from an online/DVD video. Numerous flaws can be seen from watching online video, but not immediately noticeable from a TV broadcast.

    The reason only DD and one or two other non-commercial channels broadcast this kind of programmes is because the commercial channels believe that its very low quality and will not attract much audience. If you put these programmes online, you will see how many people are actually interesting in watching it, and for most senior classical dancers it may be hard to acknowledge that very few want to watch them while lots of people watch other, younger classical dancers: this is a threat to the very concept of "seniority" and the hierarchical structures in the classical dance.

    At live programmes, we are obliged, coerced or forced to mark our attendance and support these artificial hierarchical structures.

    Mahesh Mudgal

  14. @Mahesh Mudgal

    I'm going off-topic here, but I don't see why "we are obliged, coerced or forced to mark our attendance and support these artificial hierarchical structures". No one is compelled to mark attendance at any dance event. Even if it is a social obligation, one could equally easily spend some time watching young dancers. I'm a bit weary of these arguments; tell me a new one.

    Re: What is the difference between posting them online and having them broadcast by DD?
    - Huge difference, because, as you point out yourself, an online video is more in circulation as compared to something that may be broadcast once on DD. And I still maintain that no good performer learns her/ his dancing just by watching YouTube. If you think learning to dance so easy, you're discounting the rigour of classical dance and the efforts all good dancers make, and that, in my eyes, is very sacrilegious.

    I think the only way forward is to rid ourselves of unnecessary paranoia and the tendency to over-interpret how dancers might be feeling. How I see it - most dancers, old and young, appreciate what YouTube can do and are, in greater numbers, testing its strengths and seeing for themselves the benefits of having an online presence.

  15. There is no controlled archive anywhere fpor dance videos, Often often watching these online videos or other sources I do buy full DVD. Dr, Ananda, Is there a way online where I can watch clippings of all your dance. Please provide such treasure for people and younger generation. We truly need a sangeethapriya for dancers. There are also lot of dance videos on torrents. I enjoy them!

  16. Side by Side with the topic-
    1. Great if DD (with all right procedures followed) makes the dance videos (treasure)available.
    2. The issue is solved by itself.
    3. DD can charge and can even pay some royalty, fee to artists.
    4. Perfect for a dancer like Ananda to alert the community.
    5. Most other issues melt once (1) is followed.
    * Wonder "sangeethapriya" in Janaki's comment.

  17. agree with madhan and others concerns.

    a dancer quipped - aren't some dancers garnering all the goodies with their "influence". would that not come under corrupt and fraudulent practice?

  18. Corrupt and fraudulent practices prevail. See how DD ratings are bought.

    I spoke to a few people from DD, and they say DD will never make all the dance archive available because there is no budget for it and nobody will pay for watching the dance videos. DD released a few videos on DVDs that were commercially viable. 99% of the archived videos are not. How much will you pay for ?

  19. Online download sales started years ago by Dhrishya Arts / Invis :

    And perhaps Anita Ratnam could provide her comment on how successful this model worked out:

    Price: $2.99 | Online since 1 April, 2008 | Downloads: 3 time(s)

  20. It looks like Ganga's comment about Ranidevi and her site on was not posted on Roses and thorns, and nobody wants to touch Ranidevi's activity, neither Dr.Ananda nor Ms.Anita Ratnam.

    If it's ok for Ranidevi to do exactly what Dancingindia is doing? Was Dr.Ananda involved in Ranidevi's piracy business? Is Ranidevi behind Dancingindia? There are more questions here.