The Fitful Flog

The Manifesto

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A work in progress.

  • The original purpose of copyright was to protect the financial interest of writers and artists for a set period, as an encouragement to creativity. And in its original form, it worked well. It was never intended to become an eternally renewable license, enforceable in all times and places. It was never meant to sanction the ownership of ideas.
  • Until relatively recently, copyright was something to be established, not an automatic state-of-being.
  • Copyright is a license under positive law, not a natural right. It is historically recent and its parameters are constantly being altered by powerful political entities.
  • Powerful political entities tend to be motivated by objects other than the Aesthetic.
  • All discussions about origami and copyright immediately devolve into analogy. Analogy, as all good students of rhetoric know, proves nothing — analogy merely illustrates. And confuses the unwary.
  • Just as bad money drives out good, bad ideas tend to drive out good ideas. In the origami world, the ideas around protecting intellectual property are driving out the better and more native ideas of sharing knowledge. (See, that’s an analogy — proves nothing, but illustrates my point well.)
  • There are situations where origami should be protected by copyright law, such as when creators diagram their work and publish with the intent to sell. The copyright on these books is a thing to be respected, as it encourages the growth of the art.
  • Only a handful of creators have expectations of publication and sales. The rest of us only do this for kicks and we ought to come to terms with that. There is nothing wrong with kicks.
  • Benjamin Franklin said, “Disputes are apt to sour one’s temper, and disturb one’s quiet. I have no private interest in the reception of my inventions by the world, having never made, nor proposed to make, the least profit by any of them.” (Life of Franklin, Footnote 49.)
  • The superstitions attached to copyright law in the origami world are inhibiting origami’s spread and growth as an art form, particularly in the developing world.
  • The superstitions attached to copyright law in the origami world encourage an antiquarian ethic and lead to the hording of ideas.
  • The superstitions attached to copyright law in the origami world reinforce the artificial distinction between creators and folders.
  • You don’t have to read this, you know.

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