Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home


Pirates of the Words:
The Curse of Nilkhet

Recently, there have been a few raids here and there by RAB against pirated books and its distributors, giving rise to the debate as to whether it is a good idea or not. The reason for this question is the need for pirated books in almost every walk of student life in Bangladesh

Piracy and Copyright
The term piracy is used to define the act of infringement of copyright law, apart from literal piracy in the high seas. The Statute of Anne, enacted at 1709, is considered as the first copyright law, though the term piracy was used long before that. In 1557 The Stationer's Company of London received a charter giving the company monopoly on publication and tasking it with enforcing the charter. Those who violated the charter were labeled pirates as early as 1603.

Anyway, let's not get into the legal jungle here. If you have copyright over certain piece of writing, music, etc, then only you have the right to publish, broadcast, perform it, etc. If someone copies it and distributes it without your permission, it is a crime punishable by law. Mostly, the punishment is monetary, i.e. fines.

School books
The Sub-continent is heaven for everything pirated, be it software, music, books, movie. You name it and we have the pirated version in the shrine of pirated material, Nilkhet. Though most of the software and other material are rather low class in Nilkhet, it excels in pirated books. Don't go thinking that only books written by foreign writer are pirated. Bangali writers are pirated too. The biggest market is for the study books. 'Almost all of my school books are pirated. The originals would cost a lot more than my parents can afford to spend on my school books,' says Mastura, a class eight English medium student. 'Where would we be without the mark schemes and question papers, which are almost always pirated?' says Adil, who passed his A'levels last year.

This phenomenon is exclusive to English medium students. Due to shortages, pirated books of the National curriculum are in high demands. One of the RAB raids confiscated 5000 copies of pirated books of this nature, printed on bad newsprint.

It's not just the school goers who are buying these books. The University students are buying pirated books as well. The original version of those pirated biology books for medical colleges are not cheap, neither are the Engineering books.

'If it wasn't for Nilkhet, 99 percent of the people would probably never have read The Da Vinci Code or Godfather,' says Oeshwik, a teenager with a penchant for book collection. 'Not everybody can get the originals,' He shrugs. And he has a good point. From Lord of the Rings to Wings of Fire, a lot of books have been photocopied or reprinted, glued to a cover with spelling errors and sold, in many cases, at one-tenth the price. And let's not forget Harry Potter.

Bangla authors are facing problems, too. While a normal book would cost at around Tk..90-120, a pirated version can be acquired for Tk..50-60. Although, prices vary according to size.

The Remedy
Many of you readers are probably thinking, why search out a remedy for such a good thing? But it does need a remedy. Imagine yourself as a writer who is being ripped off his/her royalty. It's like stealing, which is why it is a crime. So all these raids that have been taking place they are justified in their own right. But where are we students to go if Nilkhet is closed down?

Some people propose the solution of getting reprinting rights for foreign books so that cheaper versions could be published over here. Of course, reprinting rights would cost some money, but it would give the huge mass of students dependent on Nilkhet an alternative. Then, these raids wouldn't hurt the student populations as much. And although the royalties would be reduced quite a bit, the authors might wake up to find some amount of it in their mailboxes, instead of none at all. As for the local authors, the raids will help them hold their own as well.

That just leaves one tiny little question though. Where will these booksellers go when they lose their jobs? That, my friends, is what they call a pickle.

By Kazim Ibn Sadique
Illustration: Ronny

Wireless Sessions 3.4: Season finale

March saw a lot of activity for concert-goers and musicians, with events for the Independence day amongst others, the month long third season of Wireless Sessions ended on the 27th of March with a bang! The line up for the event was not announced until the previous night, the organizers promising that it would be worth it. And it was, with amazing performances from Rafa, Mechanix and Saadi amongst others.

The show opened with Shunno, who were excited about performing at the wireless sessions for the second time. They are currently working on an album coming out later this year, and they did a number from it called Notun Sroth, which was received warmly by the crowd. They also did She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5, Kiss From A Rose by Seal and Leaving On A Jet Plane by John Denver. The turn out was still moderately low by the time they wrapped up, but they were received very well nonetheless.

Mechanix followed them, starting with a cover of Coming Back To Life by Pink Floyd. The great effect the original song has, the surreal feeling lacked from their performance. They followed it up with one of their own songs and Angel by Judas Priest, ending with only three songs. Mechanix were not up to their usual par, as many from the audience did not hesitate to voice.

The show picked up again with Rafa and his band coming on stage. Rafa is Rafa; coupled with Arefin and Hythum, they entertained the crowd and more, with indescribable renditions of Bengali folk songs, a James cover, and a beautiful song from Rafa's upcoming solo album, which he commendably dedicated to the Sidr victims.

After this came what may arguably have been the highlight of the show. A session of jamming, with Saadi and Hythum amongst others. It seemed to go on for hours. The fast guitar playing and the crowd's applause together could have harnessed electricity. Saadi entertained the audience with various guitar tricks, including playing it behind his head for a while. Even after the long jamming, no one had nearly enough, but time was still a factor.

With a very brief interval, the stage was graced by Arbovirus, to tremendous applause from the crowd. They started with their track Uttaradhikar and moved on to Ja Ichche Tai, much to popular public demand. They surprised everyone after this, with a cover of Brian Adams' Summer of '69. The nostalgic song prompted a sing along from everyone present, and this persisted even till their last song for the evening, Omanush.

Next up was Samir from Powersurge for another session of jamming. Equaling the first jam, and even perhaps besting it at times, Samir ended the third season of the wireless sessions. This season's highlights include performances by Ajob, Radioactive, Babaz, Stentorian, and Germantown amongst many others.

The event was partnered and supported by amadergaan.com, Radio Foorti 88.0FM, Incursion Music, Decagon Café and Sound Machine Ltd, and organized by Live-Square Event Management.

By Ahsan Sajid

U.S. study guide: picking the one that's right

Done with high school and setting your sights for the US of A? Don't know where to start? Sit back and relax as we summarize where you'll be able to get all the necessary information for application.

First of all the most important factor is to decide on which colleges/universities to apply. You can start your search at www.collegeboard.com. This is a haven of accredited U.S. colleges. When you enter the site make sure you become a member. You'll need it when you register for the SATs. At this site you can use the college quick-finder to search for your desired colleges. Once your college is found, a mini biography will appear that'll have links for majors, SAT, international students, deadlines, cost & financial aid etc.

As you look at the bio, make sure you see the percentage of international students that make the student body. A mean percentage of 10 percent and above is considered to be quite high. Remember the more international students there will be, the more the college will be lenient on your application in terms of race or ethnicity. Also a college with a wide variety of international students can be effective in enriching your worldly knowledge. You can exchange your views and cultural experiences with other students from different communities who in turn can share theirs with you. Another thing worth noticing is the overall percentage of students admitted in that college. It means the lower the percentage the more challenging is the college.

After that you can take a look at the admissions page and see their admissions policies and factors. Individual college's required factors are organized nicely in a column marked as factors that are very important to important to ones that are considered. Then you might be interested in visiting the SAT page in which you'll get a rough idea on how much admitted average freshman students scored on each section.

The next, of course, is the tuition fees of the college. I am taking it in mind that most of the students from BD apply to U.S. along with financial aid. Be sure to check the international link of the college bio and see whether that college offers financial aid to international students. More information on financial aid can be found on the college's individual websites.

You might also consider the setting of the college. If you like a quiet and peaceful environment then I'd suggest you look for a college with a rural setting. Or if you're the opposite and want crowds and lots of people around you then you should opt for the urban or suburban ones. The size of the college can be quite an important factor. If you want a place where the average class capacity is 20 students then you'd better choose a liberal arts college. These colleges usually provide one-to-one discussion with students and professors. On the other hand, you can always go for well-known universities if you've decided on your major and want to enter a particular school under that university e.g. school of medicine or engineering etc.

Unsure of which colleges to choose? You can log onto www.usnews.com for that. This website provides the top 100 colleges and universities in the U.S. You can start your initial search of colleges by deciding on their ranks. Another web page to view is www.commonapp.org. This page contains the Common Application form. Maximum private and some national universities require this form as the main application form. Be sure to download the pdf version along with the supplementary forms (teacher's evaluation, transcript etc.). By this way, you can have a prior idea of what the colleges want. In the end, a confident attitude along with the incentive to work hard will do the trick in advancing your path to college!

By Faria Sanjana



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2008 The Daily Star