REM: Innovation (or lack thereof)

“The system is designed to promote innovation, but the consequence of granting a limited term monopoly [as is done in both patents and copyright] is that restrictions are put on what others can do.”

This is a really interesting point made by Ian Heath, director of IP Australia, that I believe has a lot of truth to it. We are all told that we should be creative, innovative and original in everything we do. All the way from primary school to tertiary education, we are assessed on our ‘originality’, yet the kids that read lots of books, watch lots of films and study lots of art, are the ones who come up on top. And why is this? Because they’re learning from other people’s work. We improve every day by watching and learning how others do things. This may mostly seem to apply to ‘creative’ subjects like art or english, however when you think about it, it’s the same deal with maths and science. We’re given formulas and theories and told to solve equations with them, and we need ‘proof’ to back up scientific arguments. There is hardly any room for innovation when it comes down to it. So, it is completely contradictory to both promote ‘creativity’ and ‘originality’, but praise those who stick to the mould and copy what has already been done. Which comes back to the restrictions of patents and copyright. We’ve always been told that in order to succeed, we must copy and replicate those that were successful, but suddenly, copying other people is illegal? I’m starting to see why we have a remix culture in the first place.

“To say copyright stifles creativity is ridiculous. If you put those two things together, copyright is the end process, it’s what protects creativity. And to suggest that copying is creating is ridiculous.”

Simon Lake, CEO of Screenrights has a point as well. If we do want to be truly creative, we should come up with our own, individual content. However, the way we have been raised, the way we have been put through school and the way we have watched people succeed or fail in society, simply doesn’t allow us to do so. We’ve been brought up in a culture full of remix, regardless of whether we realise this or not. We have been remixing our whole life – piecing together essays, writing history reports, applying formulas and just learning from other people and applying their knowledge to our own work. Remix has been there throughout our entire lives, from the very first time we sung ‘twinkle twinkle little star’, so it only makes sense that we’re continuing to be what can be described as ‘unoriginal’ and ‘uncreative’.

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