Stealing vs Inspiration – II

08Jun10

This is the concluding part of “Stealing vs Inspiration”. Read the first part here.

Role of Technology

Technology like the internet has connected the world in general and artists in particular in ways unimaginable before (for the common artist). Artistes, who’s works are copied or derived from, have equally easier ways of being aware of the rips as the artists who rip off their work. Its really not that smart of a person nowadays to copy someone’s work thinking no one would notice it. One cannot promote their works as ‘original work of art’ as his claim to fame and get away with it. On the other hand, no amount of technological advances actually help in protecting content and proving authorship. Most of the technologies depend on the veil of obscurity.

Presentation of Content

This is more in context of the internet powered person who experiences the artwork in a passive role. Content though not intended is forcibly made available (often for free) online. This tells us that :-

  • Content itself is hard to charge for. As I said before technology can’t help 100%.
  • Whether you created the original stuff, the unoriginal stuff or un-un-original stuff, your content is far more widely accessible. It’s risky to claim its one of your greatest works without anyone finding out you ripped off or anyone else coming up with a much better work than yours…inspired from your work…and acknowledged as such as well.

In this case, what counts is the way you present your content and that doesn’t necessarily mean loudly proclaiming your ‘originality level’ in front of your audience. This point has more to do with finding profitable ways of sustaining to keep your creative passion going strong. When we think of music, we think concerts. When we think of art as in paintings, we think of exhibitions. When we think of plays, we think of theatre stages. When we think of films, we think of festivals. In short, the artist needs to reach out to as much of his/her audience as possible and as a consequence be more honest and modest about his/her influences. A little effort to proactively seek out what might’ve been the influences would also get the artist’s work more appreciation.

Role of open content licenses

The license famous among the generous artists is the Creative Commons license. This license as I pointed before allows unoriginal artists affordable sources of original artwork. Here, ‘inspiration’ costs a minimum of attribution to the original artist. This means humility is a legal requirement. Furthermore there are optional clauses as chosen by the original copyright holder whether you can use their work commercially and/or whether you can create derivative works (this to me is a very very powerful right).
These licenses help :-

  • Your artwork to reach to a much larger audience and consequently a much larger number of artists
  • To embrace the fact that the world is more connected and instead of protecting content as your own through not so failsafe methods, you let out your work to be shared, remixed, earned from while being assured that the last person in the creator->audience chain would know who’s the start of the chain

Creative Commons and similar licenses respect the culture of art. The existence of art as a means to convey a message to the audience and the explicit acknowledgement of origins as a way to connect works of art with something common in their roots.

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