Sunday, February 8, 2015

Originality is synthesis.

Everything is a Remix

RiP: A Remix Manifesto

These two documentaries are a great introduction to the current issues surrounding copyright law. I particularly enjoyed RiP: A Remix Manifesto. It lays out the Remixer's Manifesto and talks about
how the protected ideas of corporations of yesterday are stifling the creative potential of companies today. The general premise is that nothing exists in a vacuum and anything new is just a novel combination of things that we already have. If we are not allowed to have access to ideas that came before there is no way to generate new and interesting ideas.

After watching these documentaries it is hard to side with the corporations and not the tiny upstarts that are making something new from old ideas. But as an artist, musician, or writer it is difficult not to feel threatened by the potential of having your images, music and books simply stolen. I feel that the copyright laws at the beginning of the 20th century had it right. Fifteen years after the death of the artist is enough time for protection of individual interests. Anything more is simply protecting the interests of a massive corporate machine at the cost of public good.

Are ideas property? I don't know. I feel that ideas are like children, they are your responsibility for the first 18 years, but after that it's unethical to keep them locked up in the basement.


  1. Wait... so are you saying that it's ethical to keep your children locked up in the basement before they turn 18?

    Moving on, I think that your post is very similar to the one that I wrote about "Everything is a Remix". I suppose that it's hard to say that anything is truly *your* idea -- especially nowadays. What is the internet but a series of other technologies arranged in a manner that allows easy communication? Same goes for any recent invention.

    I also agree with the comments you made to me in class about how the title of Everything Is a Remix is a bit of an exaggeration. I think that this is true, but it's probably because the author wants more attention to the video, and taking extreme positions is a good way to garner attention. - Bill

    1. Yes, yes I am.

      For sure the title does sound pretty snappy.

  2. When you think about it, the scale, duration, and scope of patents should be reworked to protect the power of the people. Isn't that what democracy is all about, or the wisdom of the crowd as they put it? Shifting power back to the common good is likely to yield more for the people of the world than for corporations, whose bottom line is to protect a number in some ledger, somewhere in the world. Moreover, corporations don't always get things right.

    Here's an interesting video that reveals an aspect of the power of the people.

  3. Igor, you've got some provocative ideas here related to copyright issues, artistic license, and freedom of digital expression. I'm definitely going to take a look at the documentary recommendations. I think that you bring up some really valid points. The corporate entities that protect patents and licenses are obviously protecting their narrow self-interests by working to establish financial market monopolies that seek to diminish competition, even if that competition yields dynamic new and exciting creations. The current paradigm seems to favor the big players, although on the other hand, the open forum software and the way the online culture of piracy is unfolding seems to be mounting a formidable counter balance to the powers-that-be.

    And as you mentioned, on the other side of the fence, loosening the strangle that copyright laws have on fair use practices,etc. may encourage more creativity yet most of us can imagine that any creative individual that produces something of value that didn’t exist before (even if it is a hybrid if two existing things) still deserves due credit, attribution and reasonable compensation from the commonwealth. Democracy isn’t piracy. Then again “reasonable compensation” is probably a gray area that the most money will always buy the lion’s share of, if that makes any sense.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I think before looking at what should be legal, you have to determine what is ETHICAL. The legal boundary might need to be more restrictive or less restrictive than the ethical boundary, but I think it helps orient the conversation. It all comes down to how you would complete this sentence: "Using someone else's ideas is wrong when __________________." Once you have an answer to that you can engineer the laws that are enforceable but don't punish the innocent. But there seems to be little in the way of consensus. (BEN STEIGNER)

    1. Yeah Ben, that definitely sounds like a logical way of going about lawmaking. But I feel like the question should be "Using someone else's ideas is right when __________________." To this question I can find far more answers that talk about the public good, progress, and innovation.