Feb 11, 2011

Copyright + Piracy = Bad?

Is copyright protection a reasonable expectation for today's knowledge economy? 
Should it be?

Neil Gaiman shares his thoughts on copyright piracy and the web. His experience is that people who buy books today would still buy it even if a free online version were available. For example, he says that sales of his book, "American Gods," increased after an online version was available for free. It was as if tasting a sample, made people interested in purchasing the book.

TEDtalks video below: "Johanna Blakley: Lessons from fashion's free culture." The fashion industry prospers despite the heavy manufacture of knock-offs. She discusses the many industries that do NOT engage in copyrighted protection and compares their relative size to the (smaller) industries that actively engage in copyright protectivism.

Why is it that the same exact jacket can sell for twice as much just by being in an upscale store? What is it about humans that we enjoy novelty and are willing to pay a premium to stay ahead of the trend? Is it simple human vanity that propels the fashion industry forward and dismantles the need/usefulness of intellectual property protection? Or is it a neurological or evolutionary necessity (of similar magnitude as walking upright, thus freeing our hands or the development of opposable thumbs) to suss out patterns in our existence and once uncovered, propels us forward onto the next puzzle?

For example, look up Madonna's first music video, back when MTV was just getting started. How different things are looking at it from where we are now in time. Not only does it seem quaint, but doesn't you mind crave something new? No matter how efficient we become as Makers, there always seems to be room for curiosity and novelty, and for those who are truly able to show us some thing new (or is it parts of ourselves?) that we haven't seen before. The aphorism about nothing new under the sun, doesn't seem to apply to everyone =)