I’m kind on the fence about this talk. On one hand I really do agree with Lessig in that there are some laws that stifle people’s creativity, either by design or as a side effect. I think that there are so many creative things that people produce using resources that were originally produced by others and eventually get shut down by copyright laws. I also believe that most, if not all, of everything that humanity has created is derived from another piece in some way or another. Nobody finds issue when every other Great American Novel is just a resetting or some or other biblical tale. It seems that there are only some categories of works that are deemed not okay to derive from.
But I also don’t agree with Lessig when he agrees with the quote he reads from someone talking about the invention of the “machines”. I don’t think that technology’s natural state is restricting people’s creativity but just adding more ways to let people be creative.
Long, still related, tangent under the cut.
This whole discussion reminds me of my time developing content for IMVU. Now it’s not a whole lot more than an outdated cyber sex simulator, but in 2006 it was a much smaller, much more pleasant community. I couldn’t afford the 3DS Max suite, which was the only program as far as I can recall that could produce the mesh files that the IMVU development tools would accept, so my 11 year old self stayed with retexturing other people’s meshes using my mother’s copy of Photoshop (6, or something).
Deriving from other people’s meshes was an incredibly well thought out system, in retrospect. The original creators of the mesh could choose whether or not they would allow other developers to derive from them and when the derivative product was sold a portion of the (real!) money price would go back to the mesh creator. This encouraged a lot of those who could to get into both modelling and texturing for maximum profit, but there were also those who exclusively relied on releasing meshes with no textures, just to be derived from by other people.
Retexturing was also a lot more versatile than it sounds at first. Through clever use of alpha mapping you could produce a product that looked almost nothing like the original that it was derived from.
It’s a shame a system like that can’t be implemented for everything. An automatic system where people can choose whether or not they want to be derived from and would eventually get something from being derived from would be pretty cool, if not impossible in the real world.
It was a pretty neat way to earn some pocket money as an 11 year old, anyway. And it taught me quite a lot about how video game graphics work, as well as online real-money transactions.