We Need To Let Go Of The Idea That Our Creations Are Utterly Ours
from the they're-not-and-have-never-been dept
We’ve written about Kirby Ferguson’s excellent Everything Is A Remix project, and the folks over at On The Media have a nice interview with Ferguson. The whole thing is worth a read (it’s pretty short, actually), but there were two great quotes that I thought were worth highlighting. He’s asked if he’s “sympathetic” to copyright holders, and responds:
I’m sympathetic to most of them. It’s natural in our culture to want to protect what you feel you worked hard for or invested in. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s as natural to be aware of the innumerable ways we take from our culture in order to create these things. We need to let go of the idea that our creations are utterly ours. Creating something new entitles us to some rights, but not to perpetual monopoly, which is the direction we’re headed in.
That bolded part is the key. People have a natural inclination to give themselves more credit for their own work, and diminish the contributions of everyone who came before them whose work was instrumental to their own. I definitely recognize the natural instincts there as well, but I agree with Ferguson that it’s important, culturally, to get past that.
He’s also asked where he’d like to see things go “culturally in terms of copyright and patent laws” and he answers:
I think we have to stop conceiving of remixing as a kind of theft. It’s not theft, it’s not piracy, it’s a legitimate effort to make something new. That effort deserves some respect, if not for the results, then for the intent. So I think step one is to stop treating remixing as theft and bring the penalties for unauthorized remixing back down to earth.
This can’t be said enough, even though it’s rarely said at all. I’ve explained in the past how insulting it is for people to make criticisms like “create your own!” when they see amazing creative new works built by remixing the works of those who came before. If you can’t respect amazing creations built off of others’ work as being something amazing and new, then you lead a culturally deficient life.