As a children’s book publisher, we have been strong advocates for making it easier for people to use our books and this is why we license many of our books under Creative Commons licenses – to truly ensure a book in every child’s hand. What is important is that Creative Commons licenses are very strongly grounded in copyright law and copyright is something we take very seriously indeed. Which is why it is especially disheartening for us when we recently learned that the illustrations from “Cheenu’s Gift” seemed to have been based on the artwork of Bindia Thapar in “The Magic Raindrop” published by Katha. On further investigation, the artist did say that it was a source of his inspiration – sadly a little too inspired.
Yes, it is incredibly difficult to do an exhaustive search to comprehensively rule out such possibilities for each book we produce and we rely as much on the representations and warranties made by the artist that it is an original work of art as we do on good faith. However, it is apparent that this sometimes goes awry and for this, we unreservedly apologise to Bindia Thapar. All current copies will carry an annotation stating that the illustrations in this book are based on the artwork of Bindia Thapar in “The Magic Raindrop” published by Katha.
We also owe an apology to Vandana Bisht, another artist with whom we found ourselves in a somewhat similar situation, five years ago. One of our titles, Chanda Mama’s illustrations also bore a close resemblance to her illustrations. We were not in a position to withdraw the title as too many copies had already gone out to our buyers. Since we were not able to do the right thing by Vandana at the time, we would like to take this opportunity to say sorry for the hurt caused to her.
As a not for profit publisher for children, we feel we must treat any case of plagiarism in art and illustrations as seriously as a case of text plagiarism is treated in the world of academia.
While we have contractual agreements with our authors and illustrators by which they are liable to give us original work, it is not possible for us to verify this in every case and we do have to work on trust. Since we work with children, it is of the greatest importance to us that both the means and the end of creative products be free of any dishonesty. We do hope that we can be an example of real synergy between creativity and trust and begin the New Year on a positive note.