A Rich Public Domain

@randfish posted “Where does Creativity Come From?” today, and linked to Kirby Fergusun’s excellent TED talk, “Everything is a Remix”:

Fergusun’s talk reminded me of this wonderful 2004 video tracing the history of a single drum loop, the “Amen Break”, as it travels from its original recording into a variety of illegally appropriated and infringing remixes and samples during the next several decades:

I could reminisce at great length about the 3rd Bass and N.W.A. songs this video digs up. I spent many days skateboarding around Denver, feeling very tough with that era’s hip hop playing in my head. But lately I’m more interested in the conversation about ownership and creativity these two videos consider.

I’ll dig back into this subject in coming months — not as a legal expert, just as a regular dude who cares about our culture’s ability to create new wonders unencumbered by short-sighted copyright and patent enforcement.

Listening to the second video again today, I was struck by a quote near the end. Here it is:

“Overprotecting intellectual property is as harmful as underprotecting it. Culture is impossible without a rich public domain. Nothing today, likely nothing since we tamed fire, is genuinely new: Culture, like science and technology, grows by accretion, each new creator building on the works of those who came before. Overprotection stifles the very creative forces it’s supposed to nurture.”

– Alex Kozinski

A Rich Public Domain