We’ve written about Kirby Ferguson many times before. The filmmaker behind the absolutely awesome Everything Is A Remix series of videos, has just posted a 10 minute TED talk he recently did, which you absolutely should watch. It very simply explains how the nature of both creativity and innovation revolves around building on the works of others, but that both copyright and patent laws are based on the exact opposite belief — that creativity and innovation springs wholly new from one’s head, and thus deserves some form of property rights. Whatever you do, find 10 minutes to watch this video:
It goes through how nearly all of Bob Dylan’s early songs were actually copies of others’ songs (which is funny because Bob Dylan is a name that is frequently cited by copyright maximalists as an example of the necessity of copyright law).
And it’s not just copyright that he talks about, but patents, highlighting Steve Jobs’ hypocrisy, talking at one time about how it’s best to take the best ideas of others, but then also going ballistic about Google copying aspects of iOS in Android. He also points out how Jobs lied about claiming to have invented multi-touch, by showing Jeff Han’s famous TED demo of multi-touch technology a year before the iPhone launched. And in that video, Han admits that multi-touch has been around for decades.
The key point he makes in the end is that the system is broken because of the combination of a few factors that conflict with the fact that everything is a remix. When you mix laws that fundamentally treat creative works as property, with the massive rewards and huge legal fees associated with court cases, combined with the cognitive bias people have against others copying themselves (with a complete blindness for the fact that they are always copying others), you have a system that fundamentally does not work and cannot work.