AlwaysWoW! For a Great Great WoW in Life

Thoughts from me about things that are cool, that are WoW, that blow me away. Observations about businesses and people from a wide variety of life. Daily encounters - and thoughts outside the box, inside the box and without any box. New thinking, and challenging old thinking. Passionate about life, about respect, and about integrity.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Copyright and evolving knowledge

I don't mind when someone copies what I am writing here. If someone takes a piece here and there when he or she likes it. It is a bit of knowledge that I am providing here, based on experience. If someone takes a piece and it changes the way he or she thinks or acts, and if he or she passes it on, that is fine by me. It is great it this someone is attributing the writing to me, but if not, well, what can I do.

I don't like copyrights too much. We all copy things here and things there and try to adjust it to our life. If we copy too much, it is called plagiarism. In the corporate world, it has the gentle word benchmarking and is seen as an appropriate methodology to learn from other organisations (so not everybody understands it). If I am doing this as an individual, than someone is called mentor. Only if I take something from a book or a document is it called copyright infringement.

The New Yorker recently had a story about a Broadway play about serial killers and their behaviour and apparently, the person that produced the play took a lot from a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist is quite renowned in the "industry" and apparently, the producer of the Broadway quoted her extensively without any attribution. When she realised what had happened, she was shocked, of course and she felt as if a piece has been taken from her

The New Yorker brings another short example about called "Doris Kearns Goodwin was found to have lifted passages from several other historians, she was asked to resign from the board of the Pulitzer Prize committee."

Malcolm Gladwell, a great author, however, takes a different look at copyright issues in this sense and he brings a lot of examples from the music world. I copy some of the easier comparisons below, when Gladwell visits a friend and they talk about music:

"He played “Angel,” by the reggae singer Shaggy, and then “The Joker,” by the Steve Miller Band, and told me to listen very carefully to the similarity in bass lines. He played Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and then Muddy Waters’s “You Need Love,” to show the extent to which Led Zeppelin had mined the blues for inspiration. He played “Twice My Age,” by Shabba Ranks and Krystal, and then the saccharine seventies pop standard “Seasons in the Sun,” until I could hear the echoes of the second song in the first. He played “Last Christmas,” by Wham!, followed by Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You” to explain why Manilow might have been startled when he first heard that song, and then “Joanna,” by Kool and the Gang, because, in a different way, “Last Christmas” was an homage to Kool and the Gang as well. “That sound you hear in Nirvana,” my friend said at one point, “that soft and then loud, kind of exploding thing, a lot of that was inspired by the Pixies. Yet Kurt Cobain”—Nirvana’s lead singer and songwriter—“was such a genius that he managed to make it his own. And ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’?”—here he was referring to perhaps the best-known Nirvana song. “That’s Boston’s ‘More Than a Feeling.’” He began to hum the riff of the Boston hit, and said, “The first time I heard ‘Teen Spirit,’ I said, ‘That guitar lick is from “More Than a Feeling.”’ But it was different—it was urgent and brilliant and new.”He played another CD. It was Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” a huge hit from the nineteen-seventies. The chorus has a distinctive, catchy hook—the kind of tune that millions of Americans probably hummed in the shower the year it came out. Then he put on “Taj Mahal,” by the Brazilian artist Jorge Ben Jor, which was recorded several years before the Rod Stewart song. In his twenties, my friend was a d.j. at various downtown clubs, and at some point he’d become interested in world music. “I caught it back then,” he said. A small, sly smile spread across his face. The opening bars of “Taj Mahal” were very South American, a world away from what we had just listened to. And then I heard it. It was so obvious and unambiguous that I laughed out loud; virtually note for note, it was the hook from “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.” It was possible that Rod Stewart had independently come up with that riff, because resemblance is not proof of influence. It was also possible that he’d been in Brazil, listened to some local music, and liked what he heard."
He also quotes Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig who argues in his new book “Free Culture”:

"In ordinary language, to call a copyright a “property” right is a bit misleading, for the property of copyright is an odd kind of property. . . . I understand what I am taking when I take the picnic table you put in your backyard. I am taking a thing, the picnic table, and after I take it, you don’t have it. But what am I taking when I take the good idea you had to put a picnic table in the backyard—by, for example, going to Sears, buying a table, and putting it in my backyard? What is the thing that I am taking then? The point is not just about the thingness of picnic tables versus ideas, though that is an important difference. The point instead is that in the ordinary case—indeed, in practically every case except for a narrow range of exceptions—ideas released to the world are free. I don’t take anything from you when I copy the way you dress—though I might seem weird if I do it every day. . . . Instead, as Thomas Jefferson said (and this is especially true when I copy the way someone dresses), “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”
He comes to the conclusion that these patterns of influence of music —cribbing, tweaking, transforming—were at the very heart of the creative process and that without this, we might not have a lot of music and changes in music. Hey, ChangeThis is based on this. Seth is saying that as long as something is good, it will grow in importance, while if something is bad, it will decline.

A friend recently send this quotation from a friend to me: 'We all ought to start sharing knowledge if we are serious about being immortal'.

What does this mean? That ideas live. That only if you share will you grow. Will you have a heritage. So yeah, that is a great sentence. so I am happy, honestly, if you take something from me. It shows me that I had to give something that what I said, wrote, and how I lived was worthwhile for someone to copy. But there is one restriction: You can never be me. Try to tweak it to your life. And make it a Great WoW.


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