Week 6: Feudalism 2.0: living in the information stack

“This retardation of innovation is a classical case of what we shall refer to as IP-inefficiency”. This was echoed by Boldrin and Levine in ‘James Watt: Monopolist’. The book they co-wrote together. I will keep this short. Having patents and exerting an overbearing amount of control over one’s work, either creative or scientific, does more harm than good to the overall progression of human advancement and creativity.

There has been no clear evidence to support the benefits of patenting. In fact, it just showed that not only did it delay works such as the steam engine to kickstart the industrial age in the 18th century, it also delayed the ones who patented it due to most of their efforts going to fighting in the affairs of legality. It also hindered the economy as it was found that most of their revenue came from royalties from other people using their ideas instead of actual sales.

I understand patenting. It is nice to have a monopoly where you create the rules and others merely follow. You can hinder the progress of others while you stay on top. However, at what cost? In this day and age, licensing of certain products lasts a lifetime. When someone could work on other projects or improve on their previous work, they will spend their time on legal issues. For some, it could be the end of the road and they will choose to bask in their newfound success and stop developing entirely.

In Japan, “doujinshis” are a recognised form of impression by other artists to commemorate or give tribute to other artists in the field. Some may even collaborate and create a few pages or a whole chapter of manga using the characters of other mangakas(manga artists) in their own art styles. This is a showcase of interaction between different mangakas to bring together the community of manga. And it is possible because each mangakas are distinguishable with their artstyle. There is no clear set of rules in the world of manga and everyone is able to express themselves through their own drawings. Some are so distinguishable you can know the artist of different mangas without even reading about who wrote them.

It is a whole different story when it comes to the West. The comic industry is dominated by the two superhero franchises: Marvel and DC. There are other companies in the underground scene as well. But they just cannot compete against the established superpowers of the comic industry in America. Japan on the other hand, welcomes mangakas to display their creativity and hold almost no monopoly, barring the reputation of publishing companies. Which could influence how many people would want to read or watch your work.

Because of this, hundreds if not thousands mangas have been published all around the world translated into different languages. Transcending borders and inspiring a vast amount of people either through the messages in the different manga or by pushing them to take up the pen.

The strongest argument against this would be the payment of artists. Shouldn’t they get paid for their work? Yes, they should. This is a slippery bridge to be walking on as it is an unfamiliar area for me to talk about as I don’t know about how every industry works and how they allocate payment to different areas of the whole publication process.

Artists can get revenue in a multitude of ways anyways, either through brand deals or sponsorships by other companies, or their work getting mentioned or talked about. This does not lay off the pirates online. But the biggest crime would be to claim the work of other parties as their own. As long as that is being respected, people should not get demonitized by their favourite artists for singing along to their song.

Furthermore, the world consists of 7.8 billion humans. Even more if you are including people from the past who are no more but have contributed to the arts and sciences in one way or another. So you cannot, with full confidence, claim that your idea for something is 100 percent unique. Even if you may not be thinking of anything or anyone while creating something, you have been influenced throughout some point of your whole existence in something, which makes it even trickier to be able to come up with something that is original to some degree.

When it comes to the acknowledgement of the creator, I wholeheartedly agree that should be respected and given the appropriate amount of tribute to. However, saying others cannot use it as inspiration or make changes to them using their own “Walt Disney creativity” hinders the growth of human creativity and takes away the chance for individuals to leave their mark in human history. For this exact reason I say companies or individuals should not be able to have an excess control over their work once it is published.

2 thoughts on “Week 6: Feudalism 2.0: living in the information stack

  1. It is an amazing read. it is true there is information flow and with that you are benefitted. Great mentions about comic books in US and japan. It is true when you said that every artist should be paid for their. Now that internet is a copy machine, and there are example out their how you can take out on social media when comparing wikipedia and answers.com. That is feudalism is all about. Change and advancement in modern technology.

    Liked by 1 person

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