Does Copying Kill Creativity? | Christopher Sprigman | Kreativitätsdenken |


Well before there were legal rules—like patent and copyright—that seek to spark creativity, there was the human urge to create. The famed cave paintings in Lascaux, France, are at least 15,000 years old, and there are creative works that may be far older. Some even contend that there is an “art instinct” that drives individuals to produce things of beauty and meaning. Regardless of its origin, clearly many of us do have an urge to create new things, or at least a preference for it, and we indulge that preference when we can—whether or not our innovations are protected against copying. One writer aptly put it this way: “Edison was born to be an inventor, Barishnikov was born to be a dancer, and no matter what the legal rules, Edison would no more have stopped inventing than Barishnikov would have stopped dancing.” The premise of laws against copying, however, is that humanity’s innate or socially determined desire to create is simply not enough in a modern innovation-based economy. To have sustained innovation—and to do so in areas that require significant investments of time and money—it is necessary to have a reliable expectation of economic reward. This is true both for creators and for the intermediaries—publishers, record and pharmaceutical companies, and the like—that in a modern economy often fund, organize, and distribute innovative work.