In Larry Lessig’s ted-talk “Laws that choke creativity“, the most compelling truth Lessig’s shares is that the internet is the one cure to the lost voices of the people.

Lessig states:

“In my view the most significant thing to recognize about what this Internet is doing is its opportunity to revive the read-write culture that Sousa romanticized. Digital technology is the opportunity for the revival of these vocal chords that he spoke so passionately to congress about”.

Although the internet today has a lot of negative connotation, it has granted the people a way to express and communicate their thoughts and opinions to a million people in a blink of an eye, if they wish to. Sousa’s fear was that people would no longer need to nor want to go out of their way to say or do anything that expresses individual creativity.

When the “talking machines” were created and proposed, Sousa understood that it meant silencing the people, and he was right. But thanks to thee Internet, we hold the most powerful tool on the planet. Any one person, any where in the world, at any time, can write, film, draw, or verbally capture a moment and share it with the world using their cellphones and with a touch of a screen.

The point.

According to U.S Copyright Office, “copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression. Everyone is a copyright owner. Once you create an original work and fix it, like taking a photograph, writing a poem or blog, or recording a new song, you are the author and the owner.”

Copyrights is the new “talking machine”, not invented to steal the voices of the people, but has made it very difficult or discouraging to create content without the fear of stealing someone else’s idea. Now, one person’s idea, is never truly original or a brand new idea. What you may think is a great idea, has been thought of by others as well, thus, creating is more about timing and action than it is about whether or not you came up with the idea on your own.

Because of this, Copyrights became a thing where creators can protect their works. The downside, if you copyright a painting of your face, that means no one can recreate another work with your face or anything that might resemble it. That may sound good for the owner, but not so much for others who may intentionally or unintentionally create or recreate something similar or resembling to your portrait. Of course, if someone really wants to use your face, there are ways to gain permission to use it. But what good is the internet, if it doesn’t provide absolute freedom?

Due to copyrights, users have to constantly think about how a company or a owner might act legally against them. As far as I’ve noticed, owners only care about someone using their work/idea if they notice that the user is making money. When people take pictures for the purpose of a meme, for example, that owner is proud to be getting recognition. Switch the situation around and say that user’s meme has gotten them the opportunity to collaborate with a reputable company, now it is an issue.

Like Lessig, I believe creativity should have no boundaries. No matter what it is. The opinion of others does not matter when considering one’s ability to imagine and bring their imagination to life. However, all users need to respect the work of others. Do not do to others what you wouldn’t wish someone does to you. Create that meme, that remix, or that painting, but recognize and be realistic about your intentions. Clear intentions = fair use.

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message