Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All copying is not the same

One of the crucial features of digital information is that the copy can be just as good as the original. This has opened the floodgates of copying and obviously made it a lot more complicated for anyone who has invested in creating digital content to charge money for access to it.

But what if the copy is even better than the original? If the one who copies does more than that – and actually adds to the original by adjusting, redesigning, tweaking, remixing…

At a system level, this is exactly what you want copying to lead to – enhancement, development, the emergence of new value.

This is the promise of a free exchange; to move beyond the original. Not always, but sometimes.

All copying is not alike. There are plain rip-offs, passive, even degrading copying. And there is copying as inspiration and re-combination.

It’s hard to draw the line exactly. The latter is a fundamental mechanism of evolution. We need it to stay fit for life. So you don’t want to stop the creative type of copying.

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