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<nettime> gandhi image deal collapses, grandson 'washes hands'

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Tushar backs out of 'Gandhi brand' deal
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 09, 20025:39:53 PM

MUMBAI: After a controversy erupted over the acquisition of rights by a
US-based company over the name and image of the Father of the Nation, his
grandson Tushar Gandhi, on Saturday said he was "washing his hands off the
entire matter".

Denying media-reports that he had permitted CMG, Worldwide, a company that
commercialises celebrities, to use the images of the Mahatma, an upset
Tushar remarked, "I have never claimed to have owned the copyrights on the

A controversy over the intellectual property rights over Gandhi broke out
reports said that Tushar had struck a deal with CMG (which represents
families and estates of deceased celebrities) to oversee commercial use of
Gandhi's name, image and words.

"The CMG had got in touch with me stating that they had a client in India,
a credit card company, which was interested in using the image of Mahatma
for their advertisement campaign in Europe," Tushar said.

"I informed them that I did not have the copyrights. But they insisted
that they just wanted a no-objection certificate from an heir of the
Mahatma," he said.

"There are 54 descendants, but I suppose since I have often been the
spotlight, they approached me," he said quickly adding that many people
often approached him for no-objection for using Gandhi's image.

"I agreed to give them the no-objection only on the condition that I would
see the final image as I wanted to ensure that the image of Gandhi was not
used in a manner that would hurt Gandhi lovers or were against his
philosophy," Tushar remarked.

"I expressed the fact that they should give the credit line, which many
organisations often fail. But I was surprised when they offered $50,000,"
Tushar said.

"However, since we had publicly-announced a project to restore the house
of Kasturba Gandhi at Porbander, I thought the money could be used towards
the cause and, hence, I agreed to the deal."

"But now I plan to return the two cheques of $20,000 and $19,500 when they
reach me. I have been e-mailed that the cheques have been despatched, but
I plan to return it and wash my hands off the matter."

A clearly-upset Tushar reiterated that there was no intention of making
any money, but of ensuring that Gandhi's name and image was not used in a
degrading manner.

Pointing out that it was not for the first time that Gandhi's image was
being used in advertisements by the government or private sector, he said,
"I only wished to ensure that if they were using the image, we should have
a final say in the use use of Gandhi's name and image."

"Moreover, it was only permission for a single project. The company had in
fact negotiated for a long-term understanding for use of Gandhi's name. I
had asked for a contract on the same and was waiting to see the
agreement," Tushar admitted.

"I was shocked when they jumped the gun and announced they had acquired
the rights," he added.

"I am now backing out from the deal and I do not mind even if they sue me.
I know I do not have the rights and am not interested in infringing on the
copyrights of others," he said.

"I want to close the chapter. I do not want anything from it. We had
signed a tentative agreement with the Gujarat government to restore
Kasturba's house but now I would have to find other avenues for financing
it," Tushar said.

Replying to a query as to what he would do if the Union Government filed
any case against him on the issue, a much-annoyed Tushar said: "If they
file a case I shall take the opportunity to state in court about the
various discrepancies in the use of Gandhiji's image. The current and
previous governments have not done anything to justify that they are
custodians of Gandhi."

At present, the copyright to Mahatma's writings were with Navjeevan in
Ahmedabad, while the film copyright lay with Films Division and Gandhi
Film Foundation.

The audio copyright was with the Prasar Bharati, while there were
multi-copyright-holders for his photographs, he said.

"I wish to set the matter straight that I do not claim to have any
copyrights," he reiterated.

CMG which is an established company represents the families of deceased
celebrities. Their famous clients include Jesse Owens, Marilyn Monroe,
Ingrid Bergman, Rock Hudson, Bettie Page and Lana Turner.

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