14 July 2009

Batik-Makers Say "Tidak" to Copyright

Yesterday I was talking about how patents are used to propagate Western ideas and power; here's a complementary story about local artists understanding that copyright just ain't right for them:

Joko, speaking at this year’s Solo Batik Fashion Festival over the weekend, said that the ancient royal city was one of the principal batik cities in Indonesia, with no fewer than 500 unique motifs created here that are not found in any other region. The inventory process, however, was hampered by the reluctance of the batik makers to claim ownership over pieces.

The head of the Solo trade and industry office, Joko Pangarso, said copyright registration work had begun last year, but was constantly held up when it was found a particular batik only had a motif name because the creator declined to attach their own.

“So far only 10 motifs have been successfully included in the list,” he said. “The creators acknowledged their creations but asked for minimal exposure.

Interestingly, this is very close to the situation for software. The batik motifs correspond to sub-routines: both are part of the commons that everyone draws upon; copyrighting those patterns is as counter-productive as patenting subroutines, since it makes further creation almost impossible without "infringement". This reduces the overall creativity - precisely the opposite effect that intellectual monopolists claim. (Via Boing Boing.)

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