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Copyright and Creative Commons- Donya

February 22, 2011

When I was a little girl in the 3rd grade, I learned a lesson about the ownership of your work.

I was very excited about the art project that my teacher was giving the class instructions for. I can hardly remember what it was now, but I think it involved something with paint and stencils.

Anyways, after the instructions were given, my class raced to the front of the room where the supplies where neatly stored, grabbed what they needed and proceeded to set up camp at their own respective desks.

After retrieving my own supplies, I think I spent about 10 minutes going over what I wanted to draw, carefully planning out where each princess and rainbow went, because our teacher had already expressed the need to save paper and only permitted us to use one sheet.

It took the rest of the time in class for my creation to be complete. I remember having my friends and classmates walk past my desk, only to stop and look at  my picture, maybe even give me a compliment on it. And I, being the attention craving 3rd grader that I was, soaked up all of the positive feedback.

Once everyone was finished with their creative endeavor, our teacher made her rounds, looking over each and every one of our pictures, giving us sugary sweet compliments that only an elementary school teacher could get away with.

My teacher was very orderly, so, whenever checking over any of our work, she routinely started from the front left side of the class and completed her tour at the back right side.

It just so happened that I was the one sitting in the last seat that month.

So there I was, awaiting the shower of praise that my teacher would give me and what did I get instead?

A sideways look and some disappointed whispering about “forming your own creative ideas”.

My teacher, in so many words, had called me the adult equivalent of a “Copy Cat”. My own teacher!

I was shocked. Baffled even. My picture was the cultivation of my own imagination! Not something that I happened to see while walking around the room!

As of then, I was officially on a mission, a mission to reclaim my honour and expose the impostor who had tainted my reputation!

Except, back then, I wasn’t strongly spoken, so confronting the person who copied me was out of the question.

I did, however, get her name, and where her desk was (one of the front desks) and even explicitly remembered her comment. Something along the lines of “Oh wow! That picture is super! I wish I could draw like you!”

Ever since then, our relationship consisted of my angry glare and her confused response.

But I know deep down inside, that she knows what evils she committed.

Ever since that fateful day, I had developed a reinforced, 24/7 surveillance security system when it came to presenting my work. I was always incredibly reluctant to share any ideas for group projects, and I absolutely hated it when someone asked me if they could “use my idea”.

Now that I’m in grade 10, I realize that collaborating and expressing your ideas is the only way to truly understand something. Having someone use your idea and add some of their own opinions has become the highest form of a compliment for me.

For example:

Veronica had posted an amazing audio file that combined the classes “This I Believe” statements, accompanied with some awesome music.

A few days later, Jonathan T had turned Veronica’s audio into an artfully created video (with her permission). He provided his personal touch to her work.

The end result was near perfect.

If teenagers can collaborate maturely, then why do big record labels, and other programs (with an already obscene amount of money) feel the need to bar creativity with things like Copyright?

I believe, as long as no one else has taken full credit for building on top of an idea, there is no reason to place a restriction on creation.

So, Copyright:

Is it your friend? Or a thorn in your backside?

-Donya

PS: I give anyone permission to use this post to further their own and others knowledge and perspective, whether it be a video mash up, a song, or illustrations, I encourage you to make something out of these words.

Just remember that, along with your name, mine should be there too.

Thanks.

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