Has copyright become a vehicle for opportunism? 21:57 on Wednesday

As I read about Lugz footwear suing Apple over the likeness of an iPod spot, I couldn’t help but think has copyright become a vehicle for opportunism. Yes the ads look alike, but so does a lot of music sound alike. Books and movies borrow plot lines from older works. Sciences build original ideas on top of old ideas.

I believe it is not possible to create anything completely new. The essence of creativity is putting together existing pieces in new ways, thus forming a new whole. As Blaise Pascal put it four centuries ago: “creativity lies not in finding new material but in rearranging what already exists.”

The copyright law no longer draws a┬ádistinction between republishing someone’s work (copying works) on the one hand and building upon or transforming that work on the other (creating derivative works).1 This creates a situation, in which copyright owners have the potential to exploit any alleged infringement of their content. Combined with the out-of-proportion damage compensation in copyright cases, this situation becomes quite attractive.

If you own a copyright, just wait until someone (unknowingly) infringes it, sells a million copies of their infringing products, and then sue them for damages.

  1. Book cover for Free Culture
    Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity (New York: The Penguin Press), 19. Buy this book from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

One Response to “Has copyright become a vehicle for opportunism?”


  1. Visa Says:

    This reminds me of Sir Isaac Newton who once wrote “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”, meaning that the accomplishments he had made were achieved with the help of the ones before him.