By Salim Jiwa

TORONTO – The Aga Khan, one of the world’s wealthiest philanthropists and spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, has filed a lawsuit in Canadian Federal Court for copyright infringement.

Prince Karim Aga Khan is seeking punitive and exemplary damages and an injunction against two of his own followers who have allegedly sold the spiritual leader’s written and oral pronouncements to the Ismaili community world-wide.

The Aga Khan claims in his lawsuit that businessman Nagib Tajdin and Toronto lawyer Alnaz Jiwa and other unknown parties infringed his copyright by reproducing a book that is a collection of his written pronouncements and his speeches.

The lawsuit claims the reproduction was not authorized and that the Aga Khan personally authored the pronouncements and therefore holds sole copyright in the book entitled “Golden Edition – Kalam-E-Imam-E-Zaman.”

“The infringing material consists of  a book entitled “Farmans 1957-2009 – Golden Edition Kalam-E Imam-E-Zaman” (the “Book”). This Book reproduces in substantial part a series of 589 Farmans and 77 Talikas and messages authored by the Aga Khan and delivered in various countries around the world between the years 1957 to 2009. The Book is accompanied by an mp3 audio bookmark preloaded with 14 audio extracts of Farmans read in the Plaintiff’s own voice (the MP3?). Collectively, the Book and MP3, are referred to herein as the “Infringing Materials,” according to the writ filed in Federal Court in Toronto.

The Aga Khan explains that a Farman is an address to his followers while a Talika is a brief written religious instruction to his community.

The Aga Khan’s lawsuit explains that both defendants have engaged in commercial ventures using unauthorized reproduction of material on which he owns the copyright.

The Aga Khan says he is a citizen of the U.K. but lives in France.

Nagib Tajdin is listed as a resident of Montreal and Nairobi, Kenya. Alnaz Jiwa is listed in the suit as a lawyer residing in Scarborough, Ontario.

“Ismailis live in over 25 countries across the world, mainly in South and Central Asia, Africa, Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East, as well as North America and Western Europe. It is the mandate of the Imam to interpret to his community the faith of Islam as a thinking, spiritual faith that teaches compassion and tolerance and upholds the dignity of man, and also to lead the effort to improve the security and quality of life of his community and the wider societies among which the Ismailis live. The Aga Khan’s communications to his community are conveyed in this privileged context and, hence, he is concerned that their integrity should be safeguarded,” states the lawsuit, a copy of which was obtained by Vancouverite.

The Aga Khan states in his claim that the defendants produced and released the alleged infringing materials consisting of a book and MP3s which were recorded without his consent.

The Aga Khan states the defendants are profiting from the sales of the book in four parts with each part being sold for $50 CAD with the MP3 recording being given as a gift to a purchaser.

Bay Street law firm  Ogilvy Renault filed the lawsuit on April 6. No response has been filed.

Ogilvy Renault is seeking an accounting of all profits made from the sales as well as punitive and exemplary damages.

Aga Khan lawsuit – PDF document from Federal Court.

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