Tuesday, 2 November 2004

Copyright v Creativity - Reflection after listening to the audio

I have listened to the complete audio and found the public lecture very informative.

The speaker, Andrew A. Adams, has a PhD from University of St Andrews and is currently studying Advanced Legal Studies at the University of Reading and his dissertation will be on

development of European Copyright Law leading to the WIPO treaty and the European Union Copyright Directive.

Several key points:
  • Copyright law benefits only the middle man - publishers and record companies. It has nothing to do with helping the creator of the works. The creator has already assigned the rights to the middle man. In record industry, the artists typically get only 5% of the revenue!

  • Since the history of establishing "protection" of intellectual work, the exemption duration has been extended again and again. The Mickey Mouse Law: When the copyright of the mouse was about to expire, magically, the exemption duration was extended.

  • The use of the words "pirate" and "thief" to describe people who violated the "copyright" of other is wrong! Both the acts of pirate and stealing involve the concept of "harm". The only harm that the people who violated copyright has done is to the business model of the middle man.

  • USA joined the international copyright organisation in the 1980's only when they became the exporter of "intellectual property". USA is also enforcing their copyright laws onto other countries through trade negotiations. Australia is a victim of the current free trade agreement.

  • Copyright laws hinder creativity.

  • I echo strongly with the last point. I have, as a joke, said that R & D stands for "repeat and duplicate". There is a lot of truth in that. Our knowledge is built upon experiences and most of the "formal" knowledge are third person experiences - theories and ideas established by others before us. If we need to seek permission to use every of these ideas, how can we become creative?
    "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." - Issac Newton

    1 comment:

    Albert Ip said...

    After writing this post, I found this: China's Love of Linux Has Roots in Ancient Past.

    While the context is different, the concept of "intellectual property" is completely western and is only moving in the current direction in the recent years (compared to the history of China, e.g.).