In the spirit of the recent jury verdict in favor of Apple… and the subsequent follow-up opinions regarding the matter, it’s only fitting that we hear other individuals give their two cents regarding the idea of patents and true innovation. In the TEDTalks (Technology, Entertainment and Design Talks) video podcast, Everything Is A Remix founder Kirby Ferguson offers some perspective on the idea of true innovation. He believes music is evolved by copying and transforming melodies, combining them with new lyrics or more specifically, transforming old lyrics with an artists’ perspective and spin. He cites famed folk/pop singer Bob Dylan who used works from other singers such as Paul Clayton. More importantly, Ferguson highlights that two-thirds of Dylan’s earlier melodies in his music are “borrowed”. You’d imagine that artists would have a hard time accepting their work is “borrowed” by other artists, but not-so-fast— it isn’t the case. Here’s another famed artist Woodie Guthrie offering his perspective on items like lyrics and melodies in borrowed music:
“The words aren’t the important thing. Don’t worry about tunes. Take a tune, sing high when they sing low, sing fast when they sing slow, and you’ve got a new tune”.
So with that concept in mind, Ferguson uses additional time to criticize Apple for not applying the “everything is borrowed” perspective for its products. He highlights the hypocrisy of American and international copyright and patent laws are built to counter the ability to previously use the work of others. Moreover, he cites multi-touch that was introduced in the original iPhone as an example. While Apple did indeed “patent” the technology, Ferguson highlights an example of the technology used by Jeff Han one year earlier and even highlighted the technology “wasn’t completely new” when he put it on display at a conference. This is fitting because Steve Jobs even admits in 1996 that even Apple “steals ideas”— with multi-touch being the most famed example… except it’s acceptable for Apple because you know— Android is a stolen product and all.
The video podcast is certainly an interesting one, so be sure to hit the break in order to check it out in all its entirety.