Indonesian Artists Refuse Copyright As Being Against Their Religious Beliefs

from the protecting-designs-makes-no-sense dept

Boing Boing points us to a story about how some batik-makers in Java, Indonesia are resisting attempts by the gov't to have them copyright their designs. The local government is warning the designers that without copyrighting, the designs others could copy them and claim them as their own, but the designers have a religious objection to the idea:
"They believe that each time they create something, it is not they who worked, but it is God who worked through their human body and soul," Gunawan said. "Being grateful [to God] is sufficient for them."
What's funny, then, is to see the politicians fret about this, worrying how people in Malaysia might copyright the design first and "there is little that we can do." Except... if the designers don't care, what needs to be done? If someone else profits from it, so what? How does that harm the original designer?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 7:26pm

    Still not sure if that was simply spam or he was trying to make a point. If that was trying, please try again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Coises (profile), Jul 17th, 2009 @ 7:57pm

    the politicians fret about this, worrying how people in Malaysia might copyright the design first and "there is little that we can do."

    Is copyright there a matter of “first to file” rather than the exclusive right of the creator? It sounds as if the fear is that batik-makers will be blocked from using their own designs if someone else usurps their copyright interest by filing first (the equivalent of which I gather can easily happen with patents here).

    If this is the problem, why not simply register a copyright under the name of the city or region — or an appropriate religious organization — with a Creative Commons license attached?

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Just wondering????, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:12pm

    Does God hold a copyright on all the religious texts he/she has written?

     

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  4.  
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    fogbugzd, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:23pm

    Zero sum mentality, again

    The modern corporate mindset is that if someone else makes money, I must be losing money. Since corporations seem to own the politicians now, that same mindset seems to prevail in government, too.

     

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  5.  
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    Neo-Leper (profile), Jul 17th, 2009 @ 8:54pm

    This is the first time I have said anything good about any religion in a very, very long time. These people have my respect. They are more concerned about doing the right thing religiously then about using their religion to get rich quick.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 9:49pm

    ""They believe that each time they create something, it is not they who worked, but it is God who worked through their human body and soul," Gunawan said. "Being grateful [to God] is sufficient for them." "

    They should release it under copyleft. Don't want someone else to copyright it because that would defeat the purpose.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 10:01pm

    Re:

    Except that copyleft is still claiming ownership over the creation...Which is what these people are saying they don't want to do...

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 10:22pm

    Re: Re:

    So you think they should allow others to claim ownership of it, which pretty much defeats the purpose of not copyrighting it? Or they can release it under a creative commerce license or somehow give it to the public domain.

    They should do something to prevent others from claiming ownership of it (if someone else did that would defeat the purpose of their intent). I'm pretty sure if they thought that someone else could copyright it they would try to prevent such a thing. They should understand this possibility and consider copyleft.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 10:25pm

    Berne in Hell - whether they want to or not

    Indonesia is a signatory to the Berne Convention. That means that their designs are automatically covered by copyright anyway whether they want them to be or not.

     

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  10.  
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    Bart, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 11:03pm

    Just think along the lines of patent trolls...

    "If someone else profits from it, so what? How does that harm the original designer?"

    As stated before, it will harm the original designer if someone else copyrights it and then prevents the original designer from using their own design. Unfortunately in our current world one no longer has to be labeled cynical to envision that scenario.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 11:41pm

    Re: Re:

    that's the exact problem with the creative commons "public domain license". there is no license for the public domain. if you're granting a license, it's not the public domain.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 12:18am

    Re: Re: Re:

    One first has to define what is meant by the public domain. If one means that everyone is free to use the material but no one else is allowed to claim copyright infringement on it then releasing something to the public domain is feasible. I consider anything released under copyleft (ie: the GNU - GPL) to be public domain for instance. However, if you don't want to define what public domain means then I suppose you can't release something to the public domain being that such a term has no meaning.

    One can argue that claiming copyleft is claiming ownership over the IP but that also depends on what it means to claim ownership. If claiming preventing others from claiming ownership over it means you're claiming ownership then in that very broad sense of the definition it is. However, only in that very broad sense of the definition should these people then claim ownership. but I would argue that once it's released under copyleft they no longer "own" it because they no longer can alter the license on it so they no longer have control over it. Claiming otherwise is similar saying because you sold intellectual property to another party you still own it because it is you that decided who gets it and what happens to it. No, once you gave up your exclusive rights to it you no longer own it. Likewise releasing it under copyleft eliminates your exclusive rights to it and to control the licensing and hence you no longer "own" it anymore than the public owns it. Sure you "own" it but so does the rest of the public because they have just as much control over it as you do once released (you gave up your exclusive rights over it so what more do you have that the public doesn't)?

     

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  13.  
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    yogi, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 12:20am

    So true

    Any authentic artist realizes how true this is.

    Creation of art always encompasses much more than the individual artist, and seems to come from nowhere or everywhere at once.

    Limiting the results of these experiences to the individual as in copyright law does not fit the psychological and sociological facts.

    Art is part of culture and culture is a shared product, owned and created by all of us, in one way or the other.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 12:23am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "if you're granting a license, it's not the public domain."

    I would argue that in as much as granting a license takes away exclusive control from you and allows uniform control by everyone you are generally releasing it to the public domain. Once you grant the GPL license you no longer own it because you no longer have exclusive rights over it just as if you sold it to a third party who bought it. The results are the same so the effect is that it's in the public domain.

     

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  15.  
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    bikey, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 3:48am

    Re:

    How can regular readers of techdirt still think there is a filing issue with copyright? There is no filing, copyright comes into existence upon the moment the creation reaches it final form. Indonesia is a member of the Berne Convention. This Convention prohibits governments from requiring formalities for protection. The US had to drop its filing requirement upon signing this Convention for this reason. If the original makers of the batik are sued, they need only present evidence (such as a copy of their design mailed to themselves on the day of creation, thus bearing the postmark of the date, which is widely practiced as a way of proving prior creation) that they created it first. Regarding the original article in the Indonesian press, since 'patenting copyright' is meaningless, perhaps this is all about design law (journalists worldwide are stumped by these fine distinctions), which, though overlapping in many countries does provide in most a provision for registration.
    Regional protection, i.e. without using the name of the artist, should be possible where such creations are common, but it has to be in the law.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re:

    "If the original makers of the batik are sued, they need only present evidence (such as a copy of their design mailed to themselves on the day of creation, thus bearing the postmark of the date, which is widely practiced as a way of proving prior creation) that they created it first."

    They still have to deal with the cost and time associated with frivolous lawsuits. Such can be a huge determent for anyone that wants to defend such matters.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Re:

    This is especially true if the case is involving different people from different countries.

    If an original maker of something wants to release it to the public domain and someone else in another country later starts claiming copyright on it (even if the original maker doesn't himself get sued but he doesn't want the other person in the other country to start suing others over his work) how is the original maker (from another country) going to keep track of this or enforce his copyright without spending lots of time and money? I think a copyleft might be in order, it makes it much easier (and cheaper) for the specific people being sued by some impostor to defend themselves.

     

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  18.  
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    Jerome, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 9:29am

    Mike, clearly you do not understand the mayor's issue at hand. Do you even know how copyright works? Once Malaysia's artists copyright the designs, the batik weavers in Indonesia will have to pay royalties just to use those designs.

    Now do you see the issue? -_-.

     

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  19.  
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    bigpicture, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 11:49am

    Re: First to file

    Back to this "first to file" thing, when it really should be "first to invent" thing. This just shows how ridiculous the whole IP/patent thing is. With patents they have to be filed, with copyright it is automatic to apply to the artist or inventor. With copyright unless it is specifically listed as "creative commons" it is presumed that it is not.

    So why don't they just get rid of the whole patent and copyright thing and replace it with the "first to produce or create is protected" for XX years for artistic creations and XX years for scientific or commercial inventions. With prescribed descriptions of what exactly that protection is, and what it is not. Example: "Only protected against others producing or copying what they are already producing". (no room for exploiters or trolls) No filing necessary unless they choose to give up or modify those protections. (notice the word protections, not rights) There would not be any more squabbling with this system than with the present system because with the present system because granted patents are currently challenged on a "prior art" basis.

    And the PTO have to confirm what they should have done in the first place, confirm there was or was not "prior art". Which is something that should be determined by the marketplace anyway and not some bureaucrat. So any litigation about such things would then be around proving "I had it first" which is mostly what the present system is about anyway.

    What would be the results (1) companies would only do R&D on things that they intend to produce, and not to prevent others from producing it. So when they invent something there would be a rush to get it into the market in some sort of product. (2) The consumer would benefit from better more advanced products at a lower price because there would not be the "non value added" patent troll tax to pay, nor the cost of useless lead to nowhere R&D in the products. In other words the government do their job get rid of all the avenues of corruption that are presently associated with this archaic system. The voice of the people and not the voice of the corporations, because what is best for the corporations is not necessarily even good for the people. The only reason the corporations complain now is about where this present system does not ADVANTAGE them.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 2:13pm

    Re:

    Can God create a lawyer so slimy that even He can't win against?

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The creators aren't arguing that they want this to be "public domain", they're saying "any claim of ownership violates our religious beliefs".

    All well and good that you can argue these petty semantics to us, but it doesn't mean much when the people who are actually relevant to the case don't agree.

     

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  22.  
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    PRMan, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 7:11pm

    Re:

    Yes, but since he died on a cross in 33AD, they expired long ago.

    (There's nothing in copyright law concerning resurrections...)

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 7:14pm

    Re:

    You need to pay attention more...

    It's a very small minority that acts as you say. Unfortunately, they're all on TV.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 8:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So you think they should allow others to claim ownership of it,

    No one said that, so why make up that straw man?

    If someone else claims to be the creator, then that's fraud and illegal. If someone is willing to commit fraud, then they're already willing to break the law and fear of copyright infringement probably isn't going to stop them.

    I'm pretty sure if they thought that someone else could copyright it they would try to prevent such a thing.

    Except, no one else can do that legally.

    They should understand this possibility and consider copyleft.

    Again, copyleft is unlikely to stop criminals.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 8:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    One first has to define what is meant by the public domain.

    How about we use the common definition and not one you make up? Anyone can make any argument by making up their own definitions and if that's what you're going to do, then I'm not going to even bother with the rest of your drivel.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 8:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Once you grant the GPL license you no longer own it because you no longer have exclusive rights over it just as if you sold it to a third party who bought it.

    Huh? Licensing under the GPL most certainly does *not* mean giving up ownership. That would make the GPL totally unenforceable and if you think that's the case, then I suggest you go visit the FSF and ask *them* about that. You are 100% wrong.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2009 @ 4:05pm

    Wow...Picasso is in deep trouble!..all that Oceanic and African sculpture copying!!!!

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    bikey, Jul 19th, 2009 @ 11:51pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    True, but that can happen even if they give their names as 'authors' to the government. People sue for copyright infringement on things they know they don't own everyday.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 20th, 2009 @ 12:49am

    Gravity Is Evil

    Gravity is evil. Look at the damage it does to people who jump off cliffs. We need to pass laws to clamp down on gravity, so that people who jump off cliffs can do so in peace.

    What's that you say? People shouldn't be jumping off cliffs? But that's their business model! Their entire livelihoods depend on jumping off cliffs! Don't you think it's unfair to let them suffer such consequences? You heartless Gravitationalist, you!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    zcat (profile), Jul 20th, 2009 @ 12:50am

    Why is this so hard?

    Claim it as a 'work for hire' and have God assigned the copyright. The church as God's chosen representatives can then release it under an appropriate copyleft license or gift it to the public domain.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2009 @ 9:13am

    Re: Why is this so hard?

    Claim it as a 'work for hire' and have God assigned the copyright. The church as God's chosen representatives can then release it under an appropriate copyleft license or gift it to the public domain.

    I can just imagine all the lawsuits over which church is "God's chosen representative".

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jul 20th, 2009 @ 9:18am

    Re:

    Well, as for the Bible it differs between translations as to who holds the copyright.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jul 20th, 2009 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re:

    "Except that copyleft is still claiming ownership over the creation...Which is what these people are saying they don't want to do..."

    Yeah, but they could simply claim agency on behalf of The Creator, which is basically what they're already doing.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Jason, Jul 20th, 2009 @ 9:49am

    Re: Berne in Hell - whether they want to or not

    Not true. If they waive their creatorship, the copyright is moot.

     

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  35.  
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    James T. Kirk, Jul 20th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    What does God need with a starship?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2009 @ 6:29pm

    Re: Re: Berne in Hell - whether they want to or not

    Not true. If they waive their creatorship, the copyright is moot.

    No, it is absolutely true. Under the Convention, copyrights for creative works are automatically in force upon their creation without being asserted or declared. An author need not "register" or "apply for" a copyright in countries adhering to the Convention. As soon as a work is "fixed", that is, written or recorded on some physical medium, its author is automatically entitled to all copyrights in the work and to any derivative works, unless and until the author explicitly disclaims them or until the copyright expires. Simply refusing to register, as is the case in the story here, does not abolish the copyright. And in order to explicitly disclaim copyright protection, the author must make claim to actually being the rightful creator in the first place (you can't just place somebody else's work into the public domain). Again, something they are refusing to do.

    You might want to do a little reading before popping off and embarrassing yourself like that again.
    Here's a link to get you started.
    http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/index.html

     

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  37.  
    icon
    Coises (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 5:11pm

    Re: Can God create a lawyer so slimy that even He can't win against?

    Yes, but She can also create a jury that will nullify the case.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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