The death of Reddit founder Aaron Schwartz has played a major part in changing a workshop organized by the Mumbai University on the web. The workshop, Freedom of expression and intellectual property rights: Current Challenges, started off as one for students at the Mumbai Universitybut has shaped up into be a two-day event addressing several other interconnected issues.

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“We wanted to conduct a back-to-back workshop on intellectual property rights (IPR) and freedom of expression but realised that there were too many connected issues and so we broadened our ambit,” said Dr Kannamma Raman, department of civics and politics, University of Mumbai.

This expanded version, scheduled to take place at the university on Saturday and Sunday, includes sessions addressing censorship, state and society; journalism and conflict; hate speech; IPR, copyright and piracyand new laws, new restriction.

While Internet activist Aaron Schwartz’s suicide has put him at the centre of the unending debate on intellectual property rights (IPR) and such like, Geeta Seshu, consulting editor The Hoot and Free Speech Hub, states that instances of attacks on freedom of expression are an everyday occurrence in the country. “We’re tracking this everyday and have data to prove that these infringements occur daily. The shrinkage of space for freedom of expression is quite alarming,” says Seshu.

The event will feature including lawyers and filmmakersas also representatives of the common man who’ve found themselves caught in the persecution net.

In the session on new laws and restrictions we’re focusing on the IT Act and how it can be employed against normal people, as in those who are not active dissenters,” explains Seshu.

Shaheen Dhada (21), whose post on the citywide shutdown following Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s death had resulted in her arrest, will speak at the event. Her Facebook friend Renu Srinivasan who was arrested for ‘liking’ Dhada’s post will also be speaking.

 

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