Is Farhan Saeed and Aima Baig's 'Na Cher Malanga Nu' a tribute to Taylor Swift or outright plagiarism?
When singers Farheen Seed and Aima Baig posted promotional stills from the music video of their new single 'Na Cher Malanga Nu' prior to its release, the Twitter-sphere in Pakistan had a field day. There were strong similarities between Saeed and Baig's music video and another video that is well known throughout the world — Taylor Swift's 'Wildest Dreams'. The similarities were so striking that it sparked a debate on whether the video was a tribute or copyright infringement.
Swift's fans were quick to point out the strong similarities between 'Na Cher Malanga Nu' and 'Wildest Dreams' even before the release. Many took to social media to highlight the parallels in cinematography and the storyline and when the music video was officially released on July 23, we saw the striking similarities ourselves.
The storyline for 'Na Cher Malanga Nu' pretty much follows the same trajectory as the one for 'Wildest Dreams' — the viewer is introduced to two celebrities who soon become passionate lovers in the course of their work together. Things aren't meant to last though and the star-crossed lovers soon head their own ways as their fiery relationship falls apart.
The cinematography for the two videos is strikingly similar. While there are several scenes in the video for 'Na Cher Malanga Nu' that are are original in thought and direction, there are an equal number of scenes that borrow heavily from Swift's style in the video as well as the plot from the MV. Take these scenes of Baig and Swift in their respective videos for example.
These car scenes also bear a strong resemblance to each other, both in terms of their placement in the storyline and the visual appearance of Baig and Swift in the car.
Arguments on Twitter quickly drew the line between inspiration and plagiarism when it comes to 'Na Cher Malanga Nu'
Users pointed out how creating a video that heavily borrows from Swift's work without her permission is outright copyright infringement.
Swift's fans were also quick to point out how the artist herself would not be too happy about the music video, given her sensitivities towards the ownership of her work and copyright infringement matters. The singer has a history of legal disputes with her former record company regarding the ownership of the masters of her earlier songs.
One user said, "Taylor Swift is very protective about her work. I’m waiting for her to team to get a whiff of this. Adnan [Qazi], Aima [Baig] and co are in for a shock. This girl trademarked everything related to her so people wouldn’t make profit off of her work. whether fan merchandise or art."
There has been a long global debate on whether fan tributes that heavily draw upon material from an artist's original work are acceptable or not. While creating fan tributes remains a popular social phenomenon, creating them without prior consent from the copyright owner is illegal in many countries.
This doesn't seem to be a concern for Adnan Qazi though — the director of the video. After there was outcry against his video prior to its release, Qazi was quick to take to social media and offer an explain for the obvious crossovers between the two videos.
He spoke about how 'Na Cher Malanga Nu' provided him the opportunity to create something that pays "tribute to Taylor". "[It] wasn’t until very recently when Farhan discussed this song with me and I told him that I would like to pay a tribute to Taylor and her videos through this particular music video," Qazi wrote. "Without having a moment of a doubt, him and Aima put their trust in me as an artist and allowed me to do, whatever I wanted to do.
"Obviously I am not claiming that I can be as good as Taylor’s video or the concept but it’s a complete honour for me to create something even as close as 'Wildest Dreams'," he added.
Qazi has also prominently highlighted that the work is a tribute to Swift at the beginning of the video as well. Many have come to Qazi's defence and asserted that giving due credit exonerates him of plagiarism.
On Twitter, one user commented how they saw nothing wrong with "getting inspiration from anyone". They said, "The director has clearly mentioned the credits, he has created this out of love for Taylor. We would call it a copy or any issue if no credits were given."
Another user also pointed that giving due credits does not make for plagiarised work.
Saeed doesn't seem to have an issue with the resemblance that 'Na Cher Malanga Nu' bears with Swift's 'Wildest Dreams'. The singer, who claims to have never seen the video for 'Wildest Dreams', believes that giving credit is enough to absolve someone of plagiarism.
In an interview with Gloss Etc, he said, “While there are some very stark similarities, there are other segments that are different from the Taylor Swift video. I think it would have been wrong had Adnan not acknowledged that he was inspired by Taylor Swift and Joseph Kahn but he thanks them right before the video begins. He also tagged them in the Instagram post that he uploaded.”
The singer is quite happy with how the video is being received, which has been seen over two million times on YouTube since its release. He said, "The YouTube views indicate that they are enjoying the song, which is a complete original and that makes me very happy."
It seems that both Saeed and Qazi need some serious schooling in laws related to copyright infringement. The laws are there for a reason — they protect artists from their work being stolen or copied, work that they've poured their hearts and souls. We're sure that both Saeed and Qazi wouldn't be too happy themselves if their own work was plagiarised in the name of being a tribute. It isn't enough to simply give credit to your source of inspiration. No matter how noble your intentions are, getting prior consent before creating your tribute is key.