A world without copyright

This post is dedicated to Yeow and Wendy, because the themes of "plagiarism" and "copyright" have been dominating our discussions lately.  As we all know, Wendy has been recently and blatantly copied by this random lady who claims that she is an "instagram celebrity", and got us all at RachxRella so angry! But far from ranting about her atrocious behaviour via this post, I hope to reflect on this topic on hindsight, since this issue has been marked as "resolved" under the table.

(Image obtained from MEME generator)

Indeed, today I am going to blog about a world without copyright, in today's world that is increasingly open source.  That is, in today's neoclassical, increasingly interconnected and globalized world, where individuals' and companies' massive successes depend on the value they add onto their users, is there still a place for copyright? How DARE we-- authors, creative people and artists-- say that we have been copied, when your idea cannot be claimed as fully original, but merely reproduced according to your interpretation?


Without a doubt, there has been a myriad of perspectives and opinions on this issue online-- On the one hand, some concerned folks have been championing (very strongly) that "without copyright law, art would not exist". Now this is a fallacy of false cause, because according to the same logic, love would not exist without a marriage law. Really, folks?

On the other hand, people who are not totally for copyright law usually claim that the law is overrated.  Authors who write for expression will inevitably still write to express; photographers who take photos to celebrate the world will continue to do so, and people who choreograph dance will not stop doing so without this law. And some of the people of this position go as far as to suggest that a world without copyright law would lead to even more innovation. Because if things can be copied easily, without regard and with no shame, the sense-giving and sense-making processes can be facilitated. Now how is that bad? All consumers get products that make more sense overall, are of higher quality, and built on a common, collaborative and discursive discourse.

Now before you start to doubt that I am against copyright law--far from it. I'm unreservedly for copyright law. I'm against shoddy arguments.
I guess as writers/artists/bloggers/dancers, we all know our worth. Let me illustrate it this way:

If you're rich on your own efforts--i.e. not because of a rich boyfriend or rich family-- what makes you rich is you. This "you" can be heavily influenced by God, a particular talent, the way you live, the way you think, etcetc. Nobody--absolutely nobody--can take that away from you.

By the way, in case you are wondering, I define "copy" this way-- If a person copies another person's expression word for word, or a person's sequence of events and promotional materials without citation,  he/she is copying. As anyone can see, I'm already being very liberal in my definition by almost equating my discussion of copying to plagiarism.

According to this "You being You" logic therefore, people who copy your works are copying the fruit of you being you. Yes, sometimes it will irritate you to no end, but at the same time, it is extremely liberating too. You are start being additionally motivated to generate even better works than the ones that are copied. You start being focused. You stop procrastinating, and start feeling really sorry about at best, the second-rate copier with neither shame nor integrity.

Yeow An and I always feel very sorry, albeit sometimes annoyed, by people who tend to copy others wholesale. Firstly, it indicates a sore lack of intelligence, because he doesn't even have the ability or intelligence to paraphrase, make his copying less obvious, or make the copying HIS. I'm perfectly fine with people who copy my ideas, reinterpret them and repost them as their own. In fact, I love reading reinterpretations of the same issue! What I truly condone is full-fledged brainless passing off of work as their own, which without a doubt the copyright law would protect us from.

SO folks, I hope copyright law is here to stay for good. :)

Of course some might argue that copyright law prevents people or corporations from generating value. That is true, of course! But this turns us back to a discussion of what is the heart of a neoclassical economic system...

...It's profit maximisation.

The REAL argument therefore is not to protect artists, writers, or creative people. The heart of the law is to protect business owners and their profits. From this perspective, creative people are used as pawns.

From personal experience, the most creative people I'd ever known in my life do not really care about profit maximisation. They care about money of course, because they need to feed themselves, like everyone else. But copy or not is not an issue.

To businesses who insist on profit maximisation by sharing art and texts with no regard for copyright, and perhaps even providing a link back to the original artists--seriously, what's your problem? Will your business die with a citation, or paying artists and authors a nominal fee for your sharing, or a percentage of your already mega profit? If you are such a business, I unreservedly despise you.

To people who criticise Amazon and Kindle/ Google books for freely sharing academic/intellectual work, actually you overestimate academics, or writers. Honestly, I feel that the academics or writers should be grateful that Google scholar for instance, is providing them with eyeball sales and helping them promote their ideas to anyone in the world.

Do professors make the bulk of their salaries off books? You gotta be kidding. They make money from the university, via research, teaching and representing their universities. Unless the person is making a living primarily off textbooks, then google should at least share some of the measured profits with them. Or at least both can settle for the win-win approach of limited-previews.

So you see, it really is a rational cost-benefit analysis. If the perceived societal cost of sharing freely > benefit, then do not share. If otherwise, share.

To summarise--let me refer back to my favorite popstar of all times-- Lady Gaga. Why is she so freaking successful on the international stage today? It's simply because she encourages her fans--the little monster community--to share her works, reinterprete her songs, do fanart on her--freely. She truly has no boundaries! If she finds you interesting, you earn a retweet or repost from the Mummy Monster herself. Even if any one of her fans plagiarise her lyrics directly, and mix them up with their lyrics, Lady Gaga is still perfectly OK with that.

Why? Because she knows she is irreplaceable. People will just look at the copier and know that everything has been copied, and in turn feel sorry for him.her, instead of giving him/her respect.

So what I'm ultimately saying via this post is-- Focus on being you. Don't be afraid of being copied--Instead, turn it into a motivation to generate even better works.

But should we eradicate copyright law then? The answer is a resounding NO. Not because there would be less artistic work, on the contrary, I personally believe there would be MORE,  but because artists and writers need an option to sue, if they feel like it.

The copyright law is the ultimate protection for the artist, and it makes no sense to eradicate it. :)

1 comment:

  1. I do agree with you wholeheartedly! I think copycats have no integrity.

    ReplyDelete