- April DequitoExecutive Director, Omnilogy Inc.
Petition to Omnilogy to reconsider Color my Taxi
Omnilogy Inc, a Non Profit in Cebu, Phillipines has started an Open Facebook group titled 'Color my Taxi' to gather supporters for a project by the same name. People are being added without their consent to this group.
By signing this petition you will be sending the following email to various members of Omnilogy to raise awareness about their upcoming 'Color my Taxi' project and its implications:
'The Taxi Takes' is a project that was started by Vandana Sood in 2009 based on conversations between taxi drivers and passengers inside cabs. The Taxi Takes is Vandana Sood's MFA thesis project from the Integrated Media Arts Program at Hunter College, City University New York and has received wide acclaim and press.
Recently, as described on Vandana's blog post , http://thetaxitakes.com/blog/, Vandana spoke with Omnilogy's Executive Director April Dequito about the prospect of collaborating on an expansion of her project. April had pursued Vandana to do a yoga workshop in the Philippines ever since 2008 after the success of Vandana's Davis Peace Project - Stretching towards Peace in Serbia. April Dequito also insisted that Vandana involve Omnilogy in The Taxi Takes. In the course of these discussions it became clear to Vandana that her project and Omnilogy weren't a good fit, and she chose not to pursue this expansion of The Taxi Takes with them. After this, despite her express request that Omnilogy not continue to develop on her idea, as well as the organization's own director's commitment not to do so, Omnilogy has gone forward with 'Color my Taxi'.
While we recognize Omnilogy's right to do projects of their choosing, we would like to express our concern as follows:
The original idea is Vandana's own Intellectual property and in all fairness should remain so. The differences between her project and 'Color my Taxi' are de minimis and only slight, and Vandana is on record since her project's inception about her desire to expand her project in just the way Omnilogy says it intends to. Anyone acquainted with her previous work has only to look at 'Color my Taxi's' description to know that it's obviously a re hashed derivative of Vandana's original project. In fact it is only a rebranded version of "The Global Taxi Takes", which was the working name of the collaboration between Vandana and Omnilogy.
Vandana shared her goals with Omnilogy in good faith and has a right to expect that her project and her ideas would be treated with respect and not appropriated. Especially considering that she was assured that Omnilogy wouldn't be pursuing the project without her in the first place. Consequently in the name of ethical dealings and integrity, we urge Omnilogy and those associated with it (the Management Team, Board of Directors, Board of advisors and Consultants) to reconsider going ahead with 'Color my Taxi' and investing time, energy and money in it.
We hope that this appeal reaches the ears of people who have a desire to preserve Omnilogy's good name, as well as have respect for an artist's ideas and work.
Lastly on a more positive note, this entire experience has been treated as an opportunity. An opportunity and endeavor to actually realize the vision that Vandana has had all along. 'The Taxi Takes on the World', will come to life in the near future and we look forward to your active participation and feedback. The ball is already rolling and to get more involved click here!
Thank you for your time.
- Executive Director, Omnilogy Inc.
What would you do if someone snatches your fully loaded purse or wallet and then tries to walk around with it as if it is theirs? Obviously, you’d call to cancel credit cards, report the matter and then hopefully get your possessions back. Right? But what if it’s a book you were scribbling on a yellow legal pad or a larger project you had brainstormed, written many sticky colorful post-its about and discussed with friends over coffee? What does one do when someone takes away your intellectual property?
Recently this is the devilish ploy that has engulfed me. In the past three years I have had several ideas, projects and plans on how to expand The Taxi Takes to the next level. This project as many of you know, is my blood and sweat MFA thesis project from Hunter College, CUNY. I started working on it in 2009 by going to Mumbai after the terrorist attacks. Now recently in 2011 I had plans to collaborate with Omnilogy, a non-profit in the Philippines. My idea simply put was to create a larger global film festival based on the same notion of conversations inside taxis between taxi drivers and passengers.
Fortunately for me I came to realize early in the planning that the Executive Director and I did not agree on many things and that this was not going to be a healthy partnership. You know the deal. I politely declined my interest in implementing my project with this Non Profit and stated that I do not give consent to their using my concept. After some heated exchanges I was informed that Omnilogy was committing to not proceed with my project.
But History does repeat itself. For some the adrenaline and excitement from stealing pales in comparison to the drive and motivation you get from working hard.
And this is not the first time that the Executive Director of Omnilogy has been implicated of unethical dealings around intellectual property and perhaps I share some of the blame in not having done my homework before sharing my ideas with this organization.
So to make a long tangled story short I was informed that the Board of Directors, Advisory Council and others involved in Omnilogy had decided that they would not take on and implement my project without my consent. But this week I went on Facebook and found that this is not true and that my idea, concept and project has been ‘shop lifted’ and the title sticker simply torn off and replaced. I have been receiving messages from friends asking me if I started the group, ‘Color my Taxi’ and if not “has someone appropriated your idea and is this with your blessing?” A handful of unsuspecting people are being added everyday to this open group without knowing any of this messy background. People have been slipped into the group with a click of a button without their consent. Smart socially minded people are being told to support this film festival and garner more participation through their myriad murky networks online.
Folks I am writing this post to inform everyone that this is a project that has been my baby for 3 years. I have worked hard to nurture and develop it for which I have received wide acclaim and press. I urge people on Facbeook, people reading my blog, those working for Omnilogy and those of you out there who believe in fairness and decency to take this into consideration when deciding whether or not to support this project.
The power of People and community to dethrone, develop and create activism can be seen in the Middle East and everywhere on the Internet. So don’t underestimate the effects you have when you join a Facebook group or spread news about campaigns via word of mouth. The Father of my Nation, India a scrawny man with few belongings managed to boycott industrialized Britain’s manufactured goods and overthrow a regime with his call for ‘Satyagrah’ loosely translated to mean truth force. And today as my ownership over my work has been unethically snatched away from me I am using the power of words, the power of truth to claim what is mine.
The reason I am posting this is to first of all remove any association of mine with ‘Color my Taxi’ and save me the hassle of individually replying to emails. No one has copyrights to dreams and I will go as far as saying that I wish this project luck in trying to make a difference but I have concerns about its success as the idea does not come from the heart and the vision and implementation will suffer for it. As an artist all I know is that creativity and passion cannot be replicated duplicated or appropriated. The vision and vigor of my thoughts and dreams remain my own and I look forward to showing the World what true colorful creativity can spark.
And so I refuse to exchange blows with Omnilogy anymore and I shall stand with my head held high and not stoop low. Instead with pride I would like to announce ‘The Taxi Takes on the World.’ The true implementation of my idea with all of the heart and good intentions of my original project in trying to foster dialogue about some of the most difficult issues today via a taxi ride. I will be rolling out this project in the near future and I look forward to your support and feedback.
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