Take It – It’s Mine

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Remember plagiarism? Remember how bad it was to copy some else’s work without duly referencing and crediting them?

And remember copyright? Remember how what you made up and wrote down belonged to you – became the property of your intellect – and needed to be duly referenced and credited when someone else copied it into their work?

mozesWell, the world is changing, we’re told. By academics – those who have both the freedom and the responsibility to look down the road and see where we’re headed. Some are telling us that what we consider piracy today – the theft of someone else’s creative work, their writing, music, art, photography – will soon be okay, a social norm, and maybe even necessary.

The case is made in this article from Canada’s National Post newspaper. Here, let me copy some of it for you to read:

Without naked rip-offs of others’ ideas, argues Dr. Boon and others, there would be no folk songs, hip-hop or popular music as we know it; no culinary recipes; we would not have the art of Andy Warhol; nor, perhaps, would the worldwide market for Louis Vuitton products be as hungry. Piracy of ideas and patents can even mean the difference between life and early death, as when Indian-made grey-market AIDS drugs go to African HIV patients who cannot afford the genuine article.There you go. And duly referenced and credited.

The case is compelling, I suppose, if you like folk music, or hip-hop, or…eating fine food. Or Warhol. Or buying knock-offs. Or if you don’t mind the off-chance that the unregulated drug you’re ingesting has some toxic ingredient in it.

But what about theft? Taking what isn’t mine? The Ten Commandments (Number 8 by my count)? What are the moral issues (do we talk about morality anymore?) of taking what isn’t yours, then passing it off as yours, and then ripping off the person you already stole from by getting paid for what was their idea in the first place? Where does all that lead our society, except straight to you-know-where?

And one last argument – in future, why would anybody create anything, and offer it up to the world, if they know they won’t get a fair return on their work. Are we that altruistic about our hours of effort? Can we afford to be, in any sense of the word?

I don’t like the direction this academic argument is headed. I don’t like it one little bit.

Now, if you really must, feel free to copy this post to your blog or facebook page. Duly reference and credit me. 🙂 And have a great week.

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