Copyright and originality are complicated subjects. Working in the IT industry for a few years where patent giants exist and large companies sue each other for their intellectual property rights, I’ve got to be somewhat sick of them. Whenever my colleagues and I searched any existing patents that have similar idea with our new product concept which we had finally acquired after numerous long and exhausting brainstormings, there was always at least one similar case. The more we suggest new ideas and try make them patent, the more deeply understand the phrase, there is nothing new under the sun. For this reason, I often thought that copyright is the main enemy of creativity and innovation.
On the other hand, if an original work – Here, the word ‘original work’ means the target subject that another creator directly referred for his/her creation – has a noble or an important meaning, I think the original intention should be preserved. In Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas case, Meiselas’ claim was more appealing for me even though it was hard to say that Garnett was totally wrong. It’d have been better if Garnett had known the context of the original photo and its significance as a historical symbol in advance and tried to let people who saw it know the value.
In this regard, we all have to admit that copying and transforming are the bases of all creative jobs, though I hope that we also have to respect the previous works and authors we refer in the process of creating.
- The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism, by Jonathan Lethem
- On the Rights of Molotov Man: Appropriation and the Art of Context, by Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas
- Allergy to Originality, Drew Christie
- [TED Talk] Embrace the Remix, Kirby Ferguson
I especially enjoyed the two videos of Christie and Ferguson 🙂