Do you agree with the Creative Commons peeps who argue that copyright is restricting culture? Justify your answer.
I completely support the rationale driving the Creative Commons. To quote Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” I also firmly agree with this concept expressed by Newton.
I believe that the human race has evolved because we have been able to build upon the ideas of those that went before us. We used to believe the world was flat and that sailing ships could fall off the edge of the world if they weren’t careful – science has proven that to be untrue.
The nature of research and analysis of how others ideas can be further developed, or even dismissed, technically builds upon the intellectual property of another or others. How can we keep evolving as a species if we become stagnant and do not strive to learn and know more about the spaces which we inhabit, both physically and mentally, and how we can improve upon them?
The increasing monetisation of intellectual property and the imposition of copyright restrictions is, in my view, becoming increasingly restrictive and, in some ways, creating more of a divide. We can violate such copyright if we can afford to do so, or with the cooperation of the intellectual property owner. But what happens to those who cannot afford such pursuits? They can become discouraged from chasing their creativity and exploring the opportunities that could drive us forward as a global community. They are ostracised from the world of the elites.
This moral, ethical and economic dilemma was particularly highlighted when Aaron Swartz recognised the need to make information free. Because of his endeavours to liberate such information behind paywalls, he paid the price – the US government charged him with so many violations of copyright, he ultimately gave up fighting and took his own life. Those who knew him personally, Lawrence Lessig included, continued the fight and the Creative Commons was born.
Lessig made a particular statement that resonated with me in the first chapter of his book: “Free cultures are cultures that leave a great deal open for others to build upon; unfree, or permission, cultures leave much less. Ours was a free culture. It is becoming much less so” (2004, p. 30).
Conversely, there are those that believe copyright restrictions are necessary to preserve the monetary value of an author’s intellectual property rights. However, it is difficult for me to sympathise with such notions when authors usually are only partly recompensed for others using or accessing their works. The neoliberal machine is in motion and the capitalist system entrenched – money is the god ruling such copyright laws. The more those laws are enacted and legislated for, the greater the digital divide between those who have access and can pay for such information, and those who can’t. It’s a Huxwellian nightmare.
Full Documentaries Films. (2014, July 25). The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz [Video podcast]. Retrieved from YouTube: https://youtu.be/dU5JWT0hFlc
Huxley, A. (1977). Brave new world. London, London: Chatto & Windus.
Lessig, L. (2004). Creators. In Lessig, L., Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity (pp. 21-30). New York, New York: Penguin Books.
Orwell, G. (2003). Nineteen eighty-four: a novel (Centennial ed.). New York, New York: Plume.