This excellent Ted talk from a few years ago about the (almost) complete lack of copyright protection in the fashion industry has been really helpful in shaping my thinking about the whole issue of copyright in general. Johanna Blakley makes the point that there is no need for copyright protection – copying good design leads to more good design. No one creates in a vacuum.
This doesn’t mean I think it’s ok to rip off original works, like a publisher reprinting a book without paying anything to the author, or random people distributing bootleg copies of albums or movies. That’s not OK.
But when you think about how free George Lucas has been with Star Wars – long ago he decided not to go after anyone who made art, films, remixes, or any kind of creative endeavor with a Star Wars theme – and how much that freedom has increased the popularity and endurance of Star Wars, well. Who could argue that viciously protecting his intellectual property would have been a better idea?
Anyway, watch this video if you’d like, and see if it has an impact on your thinking about copyright.