Friday, October 31, 2014

Creative Anarchy

          During our class discussion on patents and copyrights following the "Everything is a Remix" video, someone proposed the question: what would the world of creativity look like without patents and copyrights? Now, in order to answer this, we must first have a greater understanding of the subject matter. So, patents and copyrights - what are they? If you would like to know the exact definition of each, I have posted a link at the bottom of the page. However, to sum things up, copyrights and patents both give exclusive rights for the use and distribution of either an invention in the case of patents, or an original work in the case of copyrights. Some might argue that these do more harm than good, as it certainly slows down the process of getting new ideas and inventions out into the world. On the other hand, I believe patents and copyrights have there place within our society.

          Let's imagine a world without copyrights or patents for a moment. From one point of view, this could be seen as a beneficial to the consumer, as new technologies and creative works could reach the public at a much faster rate. In consequence, those that conceive these new products may suffer, as credit may not always be given where it is due and it would be far to easy to take credit for someone else's work. With that said, a world without copyrights or patents could actually hinder creativity, rather than benefit it. Instead of coming up with new ideas, businesses would be competing to get the same idea out into the public's hands faster in order to make money. As a result, the number of competitors would be so high, that the only successful business is the one that can distribute it most efficiently, and not always the one that invents the product in the first place.

          At this point, a fair question to ask might very well be: why should I care? Well, put yourself in the shoes of an inventor for an instant. Say you were to create something totally new which frankly, in this day and age, is quite rare (as pointed out in "Everything is a Remix").

You've invented something so incredibly original that it could benefit the public, and also pay off handsomely for those that get it out into the masses first. In this case, wouldn't you want your idea to be protected somehow? If your answer is no, than that means one of two things: you are either naturally selfless or a liar. If you answered yes, however, than you are in the same boat as I am.

          Imagine, you've just made this invention and the next step is to sell it to the masses. Even with the aide of a professional business, competitors are bound to get ahold of this new discovery and distribute it on their own as well. With patents and copyrights, your idea is protected, but this can also be a slow and painful process. In a world where copyrights and patents are nonexistent, you are now making a fraction of what you could have with one. 

          Although it may seem as if I am arguing in favor of copyrights and patents, I will say that there are indeed flaws with both. As mentioned before, applying and receiving either can be a lengthy affair. In addition, one might ask: what constitutes an original idea? or When is an idea considered original enough to where a patent or copyright comes into play? This certainly complicates the entirety of the subject matter, and highlights much of the frustration behind "intellectual property." . So, while copyrights and patents certainly contain flaws, a world without any kind of creative security does not solve the problem either. I believe that the solution lies somewhere in the middle. 

          Improvements can certainly be made to better the "system" that is intellectual property. With that said, I have one suggestion: lessen copyright/patent durations.this allows for sufficient time for the creator to receive credit where it is due and to distribute an invention/idea to the masses, while at the same time allowing for improvements upon the original product by others later on. With that, I leave you with this: what improvements do you think can be made to patents and or copyrights? (and please, feel free to respond)


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