The First ever Creative Commons event in Telugu: Ten Telugu Books Re-released Under CC
Telugu is one of the 22 scheduled languages of Republic of India (Bhārat Gaṇarājya) and is the official language of the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Union Territory district of Yanam. In India alone Telugu is spoken by 100 million people and it is estimated that a whopping 180 million speakers are there globally. Government of India declared Telugu as a Classical language.
Telugu Wikipedia has been in existence for more than 10 years and has 57,000 articles on various topics. Telugu Wikisource is one of the sister projects of Wikipedia which has more than 9,400 pages. Several Telugu books are being typed and proofread using Proofread extension. Telugu being one of the complex Indic scripts, computing in Telugu came much later and many books that got published and being published even today are in non- Unicode. Telugu Wikisource thus has emerged as the largest text searchable online book repository in Telugu. Telugu Wikisourcerers, in spite of being a small community, did a great job of digitizing many prominent Telugu literary works. Attempts have been made to convince contemporary writers to re-release their books into CC-BY-SA 3.0 license. First such effort was made a year ago by bringing in a translation of Quran in Telugu. Recently, 10 Telugu books by a single author were re-released under Creative Commons license (CC-BY-SA 3.0) on June 22, 2014 at 10 a.m. at Golden Threshold, Abids, Hyderabad. CIS-A2K played an instrumental role in getting this content donation.This is one of the first instances across Indian languages where a single author re-released such a large collection of books under CC license. These books are being uploaded on Telugu Wikisource using Unicode converters.
Telugu Wikimedians in collaboration with CIS-A2K came together to celebrate this first Creative Commons event in Telugu. The event was attended by about 100 people from various walks of life. The patron of Indu Gnaana Vedika, Sri Sri Sri Prabodhananda Yogeeswarulu presided over as the chief guest and N Rahamthulla, long time Wikipedian and a senior bureaucrat was the guest of honour.The author of these books Prabodhananda emphasised the importance of the availability of knowledge in ones own mother tongue, and that knowledge should not any more be confined to books alone. Telugu Wikisource, he said, would not only ensure wider reach for the books, but also enable the language to survive in the digital era. Then, a video interview of guest of honour, Rahamthulla was played, where he spoke about creation of new technical jargon in ones own mother language and how Telugu is being used as administrative language in his office among his subordinates.
Rahamthulla also shared his experience of using Telugu in the office and suggested that the Government should take measures for wider us of Telugu in official correspondence. This was followed by Veeven’s talk on “End-User’s perspective of free licenses”, where he spoke about importance of open content, free software and free licenses.Speaking about the importance of creative commons licenses in the context of Indian languages on Internet Vishnu Vardhan pointed to the enormous literature and content available in Indian languages which is increasingly becoming inaccessible as most of it is published under copyright and in non-unicode formats. He noted that many authors writing in Indian languages are keen that their work reaches as many people as possible and are not keen on making profits. In fact many of the writers who publish their works incur losses, but they are passionate about publishing their works in spite of the losses. However, these writers choose Copyright as a default and do not realize that they are curtailing the wider circulation of their books. Awareness about Creative Commons in Indian languages is very essential and he stated that CIS-A2K is leaving no stone unturned to bring this awareness.
There was a vibrant discussion on Creative Commons during the open session. Participants wanted to know the difference between Copyright and Creative Commons. Some asked what is the need of re-releasing under CC license if the books could be made available on a website. Some were worried if they release it under CC license they will be deprived from publishing their books as anyone can now use them. All these apprehensions were answered by long-time Telugu Wikimedian Veeven and the Program Director of CIS-A2K, T. Vishnu Vardhan. A Wikisource demonstration by Rahmanuddin Shaik was shown followed by Q & A session.
The event triggered some of the participants to come forward to donating their books under CC license. We may soon expect another 50 books to enrich Telugu Wikisource after being released under appropriate CC license.