The Creative Process is Evolving: Why are we alienating our kids?

Please watch this video first:

Lawrence Lessig masterfully presents the concept that we are strangling the creative talents of our kids by refusing to update our archaic laws on intellectual property and copyright. He correctly frames the argument with an example of farmers complaining that they owned the airspace above their farms. Just because you created a writing, movie, or song does not mean that the world cannot react to this and produce new works related to your art or product. When you release your art or product to the world it becomes part of its culture.  In turn, people will react to your art or product by building on it creating something new. This is the whole point of copyright law: “to promote the progress of science and useful arts…” (1).

Now consider the age old conundrum that ‘if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around does it make a sound?’ Science proves that sound is produces regardless if somebody is present to hear it; however, George Berkeley, introduced the philosophical argument that existence  <-> perceivable (if and only if clause) (2). This argument does have a potential strong hold on art and science as ‘useful’ products. It changes the tree argument to: ‘does it matter if a tree makes sound if nobody is around to hear it?’. This strikes at the heart of the issue: “does it matter that your art/science/product exists if a person or culture is not around to perceive/react to it thus providing the arena where it becomes useful or meaningful?’.  Does it matter if the Mona Lisa is art if nobody reacts to it, views it, or perceives it as art?

I don’t believe art is universal. I don’t believe their is a true form of art that exists outside of people and culture that great artists tap into. This argument is parallel to C.S. Lewis argument in Mere Christianity that their are universal ethical codes that are separate from religion and culture (3). Universally (at least among the sane) we believe it is wrong to abuse children and to kill for no reason; however, this does not apply to art and science (products).  The reaction…the perception is part of the art, which is why copyright law is limited in the first place. Your creation when released to the world becomes part of it. One cannot exist without the other. Our founding fathers realized this and thus protected this relationship through limiting copyright length. You the creator are allowed to benefit for a time from your work at a greater percentage than the public. After the copyright expires, the public is allowed to benefit from your work at 100%. If this wasn’t a shared relationship than why does copyright ever expire? Why don’t you own your creation forever? The answer is in the argument that for art and science to be ‘useful’ it must be perceived by/reacted on by some audience.

Until we start protecting the rights of our children to remix and create using a portion of what already exists, we are alienating them without sound reason.  And taking this a step further, until we legalize fair use in this way thus forcing a shared fiscal relationship where both the original creator and the remix creator can monetize their products legally then we continue to do a great injustice to our youth while at the same time stifle a huge industry of original artwork.

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