Copyright should go to first publisher

As the first publisher of the books Bangabandhu Maney Swadhinota and 3053 Din, the Ministry of Liberation War and the prison directorate should have the copyright of the two books, recommends an enquiry committee.

The three-member committee, headed by the secretary to Ministry of Primary and Mass Education Akram Al Hossain also observed in a report that any commercial agreement could only be appropriate once the copyright issues of the two books are settled.

The High Court bench of Justice Obaidul Hasan and Justice AKM Zahirul Haque formed the committee on September 2 following a writ petition filed by HC lawyer Syed Sayedul Haque Suman on August 31.

The petition sought the HC's directives for a judicial or independent probe into allegations of fraud and irregularity in purchasing books for Bangabandhu Corner in primary schools across the country.

Although the committee in its report to the HC, which the unveiled yesterday, did not mention whether any misappropriation had taken place, it said the Ministry of Liberation War and Bangladesh Jail were the first publishers of the two books. The publisher was changed in the next edition.

But the first two publishers must get the copyright, they recommended. The Daily Star has obtained a copy of the probe report submitted to the HC.

While recognising the involvement of Nazmul Hossain -- a journalist accused for illegally changing the copyright of the two books to his own publication, Journey Multimedia -- in research, editing, concept, cover design and publishing, the committee also said: "Both books are the result of the combined efforts and work of many people."

The book named "3053 din", which is a collection of dates and pictures of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's time in prison, was first printed with funding from the Department of Prisons, said the committee.

However, in a Demo Official (D/O) letter, former inspector general of prisons Syed Iftekhar Uddin on November 5, 2018, said no money was spent from the revenue budget of the Department of Prisons for the publication of the book.

The probe body, however, got a different opinion from the Department of Prisons on Iftekhar Uddin's letter.

The letter did not have a commemorative number and it was not recorded in the Department of Prisons, the committee mentioned in its report.

The way Nazmul Hossain got the copyright was not lawful. He has obtained the certificate as 100 percent author instead of editor, which was also unknown to the Department of Prisons, the committee said.

The committee also reviewed the process of getting copyright after the procedure of purchasing books by the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education.

Primary and mass education ministry decided to purchase 65 books on Bangabandhu, including the two mentioned above, on September 15, 2019, for the Bangabandhu Book Corner established in all primary schools of the country.

Nazmul Hossain applied for the copyright of the two books on December 30, 2019, the committee said.

The HC heard the report of the inquiry committee yesterday. The next hearing is scheduled for next Thursday. 

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