Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dang it, Intellectual Property Strikes Again

So I have my new hobby of making cards which I have enjoyed quite a bit. I go to this site called splitcoaststampers where they have various forums. Today I came across a post talking about CASEing (basically copying someone else's idea) and where the line was, when was it now your idea and when did you need to attribute. Honestly, it had never occurred to me that someone might post to a public forum like that and not want their work duplicated and/or be very touchy about attribution.

I don't knowingly make an exact duplicate of someone else's card for a few reasons:
  1. I think it is almost impossible for me to exactly duplicate another card. Stamps stamp differently, I don't have the right color paper, I dislike the colors they chose, etc.
  2. Half the fun is playing around with layout and design elements. My cards almost never turn out the way I envisioned them.
But I can understand the distinction. It is one thing for me to copy someone else's card (let's say exactly for the sake of argument) to give to my friend and another thing to sell the card or teach it to others for money or enter it in a contest. Once money and prestige gets involved people get very touchy.

I think the only way around this is for people to say what they want done with their ideas, something along the lines of the creative commons license. That way people like me can say "do whatever you want with it" and people who are professionals and want reimbursement can say that. I expect the whole thing would be on the honor system since there really isn't any way to know someone copied your idea or if they came up with it independently.

If someone copied one of my cards I would be flattered. If they actually charged money for one of my cards I would be shocked (and maybe open an eBay account and do the same). But one of the things that attracted me to stamping was what I perceived as a more laid back, willing to share attitude among hobbyists, and I would be saddened to find that untrue.

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