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Can’t Touch This

Or can you? Previously, I have discussed the issues surrounding copyright and whether or not the old  laws still hold true in today’s society. But with an ever-changing world, it is hard to impose copyright and intellectual laws because it is so easy to rip, burn, change and remix. Or touch.

An interesting point that Kirby Ferguson makes is that “copying is how we learn” which is so very true if you think about school – in a basic example, teacher writes, you copy, you learn. The same goes for inventions where the elements that make up the product, are not necessarily designed by the inventor but they are copied, transformed/altered and then combined in a particular sequence which leads to the end product.


Lawrence Lessig says that we have moved from a “read-only culture” which consumes media to a “read-write” culture that “re-creates the culture around them” again explaining produsers (users being producers of new content). But being produsers is in some ways the issue – but the larger debate is about intellectual property and the restrictions that it places on creative individuals. Ferguson rightly says that we have the tendency to become “territorial” about everything we do, say and create as we “hate losing what we’ve got.” Much like Steve Jobs. In 1996, he had no problem in boasting that he was “shameless in copying” ideas from the first computer – Xerox. However, when Jobs met his match in the Android phone, he whined like a spoilt two-year-old saying, “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”

Overall, I agree with Axel Bruns on this point, “Collaborative efforts to engage in creative, artistic mash-ups can be described as a form of distributed creativity: they… build on and extend an existing pool of artistic materials” also illuminating Ferguson’s notion that “creation requires influence.” Take the last decade’s top 10 movie hits, 74% are wither sequels or adaptations of novels, comics or video games (Ferguson). So why can big media moguls suppress the little man into conforming with the intellectual property laws when they are the ones remixing?

And anyway, who does not like a good mashup or sequel or blatantly obvious copied movie?



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