Annadaata Dabbawala Copycat
Close on the heels of “KaavyaGate” comes another case of outright copying of content without permission. A little while ago nVa pointed to an interesting article about the Dabbawalla Service in the Bay Area in the US.
This website provided tiffin services, and the ordering etc is by their website annadaata.com. The NYTimes article spoke about how a concept was being transplanted from Bombay to the Bay Area.
From reports, the website got great business after the article appeared and was widely circulated in the press and over the internet.
However, today I got an email from a lady by the name of Shalini Bhalla. She is the founder of a website called spicevice.com. A fellow architect, Shalini started this site as a possible business venture, but for reasons, put it on the back burner.
Ironically, it was coming to the U.S. that opened my eyes to the very international nature of “traditional Indian” cuisine. From this distance it was almost easier to see the influences of the British, Portuguese, French, the Middle East, China, etc on what we perceive as “traditional Indian” food today. […link…]
If you visit the site, you will see that it is a very elegantly designed and content rich website, something that I would go to often. However when the Annadaata story broke out in NYT, she; out of curiosity checked their site and was aghast to find that they had a whole lot of photographs that were taken from her site. Thats when this whole copycat saga started.
As Shalini writes
While doing research for my business plan recently, I came across an article in the New York Times. Titled “Knock, knock. Its Indian Comfort Food” by Shivani Vora, March 15, 2006. The article talked about an Indian food business called “Annadaata”, located in the Bay Area. They sell packed lunch and dinner boxes to busy, working professionals, primarily of Indian origin. Business has boomed recently since they were featured in The New York Times. The main page of the website announces this proudly and also provides a link to the article.
I then moved onto the next page “about us“.
They have a flash animation movie of different food shots on the left. The same 55 images play repeatedly on 3 other webpages. Now browse through my website, Spice Vice. I have a bunch of pictures on the site.
Do you see a similarity? Annadaata has been using 50 images from my site since 2004 (We looked up their archives). They’re selling food and the food they picture isn’t even theirs – its mine.
Copying images is one of the banes of the internet. It makes it so easy and in most cases people care a damn. Just providing a simple copyright text would suffice most people. But in this case, even that was not done.
Shalini contacted the people who run annadaata and she was met with a hostile and rude response.
I called them up and made a simple request that they take down the images. That’s it. I’m not looking for compensation, not even an apology for stealing my work for 2 whole years – nothing. Mr. Kishan Sreedhar who answered the phone, besides being rude, refused to part with contact information for Kavita Srivathsan – a lady named as the owner of the company in the NY Times article. Insisting that I speak only to him, he got progressively angry and belligerent, claiming I was wasting his time and hence money, and that I couldn’t prove the pictures were mine. But I can. I have high-resolution images of each one. I also have the email I sent to Annadaata after this phone call, citing the conversation between Mr. Kishan Sreedhar and me, repeating that they simply take down my images.
Annadaata is surely playing dirty and that is evident from the fact that they would go through the trouble to crop out the copyright text from Shalini’s images.
Each of my website pictures has a copyright line written onto it, along with my website address. Annadaata has cropped the copyright statement from each image and then looped it into the flash movie on their site.
In today’s day and age it is easy to copy stuff from others on the internet and it is also easy to get caught. If Annadaata wants to really do business, they should start out on sound footing. Taking cheap shots at copying someones images and not even acknowledging shows bad business and moral practises.
At the time of writing this article, Annadaata’s website is down. They have a front page that says that it is under overhaul. I wonder if it is because they are scared that they will be sued. This is one time I am happy that America is a litigious society.
I hope that Annadaata takes the proper action and removes the images and provides a simple and meaningful apology.