Creativity and Copyright

Here is my response for week two and three for the Creative Commons certification course.

The Purpose of Copyright

In order to consider either of these rationales as a dominant or over-arching reason for creative production, it would mean an individual, in the process of putting thought or idea to paper, canvas, or computer, would need to have a reason for doing so. I’m not sure, in the act of fixing the idea to tangible medium, that the greater common good or personal monetary gain is on their minds. There may be some consideration of audience, but even that doesn’t usually come into play until the creation is completed. I’m connecting to Jonathan’s comments about a ‘singer’s gotta sing’. So the greater common good may be a factor after the fact, but not as the works are being crafted. Most author’s will admit, perhaps reluctantly, that they’re not writing for fame and fortune. Other than perhaps Nora Roberts or Stephen King, that may be fact.

Some creators gain so much more by giving works away for free. Jonathan mentions Cory Doctorow but my favourite example is Jonathan Worth – a photographer who’s photographs (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and Selfless selfie (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. campaign caught attention and catapulted him to both fame and fortune.

As an educator, I’m cognizant of copyright and the limitations this places on use of works created by others when teaching. It’s interesting that many teachers do not consider their creations (lesson plans, great art ideas, songs they create for their students) as having a copyright attached they minute it is fixed in a tangible medium. Not that there’s money to be made, unless you’re posting your worksheet or creative ideas to Teacher’s Pay Teachers (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (don’t get me started on the underlying reasons for this!), teachers tend to just share as common practice. Applying a CC-BY or CC-BY-NC on their stuff could go a long way to at least acknowledge the source of this great idea, for the common good.

Creativity and Copyright

Creativity doesn’t always build on the past, but the past is certainly fodder for creative inspiration. Inspiration comes from anywhere, anytime, with or without others present. A walk in the woods can be inspiration. A conversation with a friend, when you’re attentively listening, can be inspiration. There may be some unconscious element that springboards the ideas, or something you’ve done before that makes a connection that wasn’t there before. There are unique human qualities in some individuals that allows this to happen a lot, while others, like myself, need something to be our inspiration. I tend to use works created by others as a mechanism to re-mix and repurpose to create something new. Does that make me creative? Maybe. I couldn’t say if someone else could combine two or three elements together in quite the same way I do, or create an image, narrative, or sound in the exact sequence I could. I think that how we define ‘creativity’ will ultimately determine if my work is unique or has been recomposed from the past.

I do think that ending copyright is required so more works can be enjoyed. I’m thinking about the work the Rijksmuseum (Links to an external site.) is doing to bring art into the public realm, and how this can become a springboard for others who may never travel to see classic works of art. Someone from remote or distant places can enjoy and marvel at these works, view the collection online (Links to an external site.), and potentially build on, recombine from, or create anew from one or many of the art pieces in this online exhibit.

One of the accommodations to copyright is the public library, public art galleries, or public performances, where works can be purchased or paid for, as a way to provide a return on inspiration (ROI) for the creator, but also allow members of the public to view, read, and enjoy. This becomes a way to work around the constrictions of copyright. But this requires a consistent commitment by public agencies and the general public to put funds toward arts and creative works.

As a teacher, I appreciated the ability to apply fair dealing or fair use. While the rules and tests of this exception can be challenging for any educator, it still gives permission for engaging in conversations and dialogue, without fearing to be in breach of copyright. Some teachers fail to clearly understand how the fair dealing rules work, or have a basic understanding of copyright as it applies to their work in the classroom.

If the length of copyright is extended well beyond the life of the creator by 70+ more years, the impact on society in general will be more litigious action by more owners or survivors, who aim to continue milking the creative works, to which they have no other vested interest other than monetary gain. There will be overly cautious creators who won’t put their works out into any public venue for fear of being sued for copyright violation. Creativity will go underground. It’ll be the end of the open, shared culture we see today in global contexts, with Creative Commons.

I’ll connect the project for the end of week three here when it is completed.
Resource Collection from the course
The Era of Fake Video Begins – the digital manipulation of video may make the current era of “fake news” seem quaint. May, 2018.
Fair Use evaluator – USA context
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