Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thought For the Day - The Idea of Copyright

Most authors are besieged by this thought after they write their masterpiece. (Some, even before they put a word to paper.) What if someone steals my idea? To them the world becomes a place full of idea stealers posing as friends, family, family of friends, friends of family, agents, publishers, printers, editors, the PC repairwala, the internet...everyone is a threat. The idea becomes heavy as it sits safe in the mind, with the author fighting off demons and imaginary raiders vigilantly.

I went through that phase when I wrote my first story for publication. Until I realised that no one is really bothered about your idea. You will realise that once you approach the first bunch of people in the business, and they toss it aside carelessly as if to say - don't waste my time - only in a more civilised manner. And then you get responses that are shorter and shorter until you realise that the problem seems to be 'here' and not 'there'. Once that realisation happens you are willing to let anyone see it - just please see it! I mean I am willing to pay for you to see it.

Ideas come and go. All ideas and stories seem to have been told before. It all depends on how you tell it. The simplest thing that can make you different from others would be your honesty when you approach a particular theme. People connect at a feeling or emotion level and they will keep connecting to it all the time, for centuries, if you tell it with all honesty. One may not need the greatest fantasy or special effects or science fiction or CG if one has the honesty to tell a small story well and with feeling.

Even if someone does copy an idea of great honesty, the copy can never be the same as the original, even if it copies word to word, pixel to pixel. It will lack the honesty of the original. Whatever the copycat doed, the copy will still be short of something. Some part of the great energy that the artist or writer summons while making it honestly, transfers to the page or canvas. It is this energy that will be missing. That is what honesty can do. It can give it a depth that cannot be seen, it can be felt. (In some cases it can even be seen.)

And hence I find this whole idea of copyright a bit amusing. By tinkering a bit to adjust, to fit rules and regulations, one can claim the property of another, of history, of culture as their creation - but they will know that it was never theirs. (Reminds me of a famous quote by one of the famous Masters - "We create nothing, we merely plagiarise nature.") The difference lies in the satisfaction the creator feels, the timelessness that the creation exhibits. It will not be told by sales, by awards nor by shallow legal victories. The experts have let the Universe speak through them - they prepared themselves and let themselves be allowed as the medium. Therein lies the difference between the masters and the imitators!

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