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  • Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Morton Bast

  • We're going to begin in 1964.

  • Bob Dylan is 23 years old, and his career

  • is just reaching its pinnacle.

  • He's been christened the voice of a generation,

  • and he's churning out classic songs

  • at a seemingly impossible rate,

  • but there's a small minority of dissenters, and they claim

  • that Bob Dylan is stealing other people's songs.

  • 2004. Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse,

  • takes the Beatles' "White Album,"

  • combines it with Jay-Z's "The Black Album"

  • to create "The Grey Album."

  • "The Grey Album" becomes an immediate sensation online,

  • and the Beatles' record company sends out countless

  • cease-and-desist letters for "unfair competition

  • and dilution of our valuable property."

  • Now, "The Grey Album" is a remix.

  • It is new media created from old media.

  • It was made using these three techniques:

  • copy, transform and combine.

  • It's how you remix. You take existing songs,

  • you chop them up, you transform the pieces,

  • you combine them back together again,

  • and you've got a new song, but that new song

  • is clearly comprised of old songs.

  • But I think these aren't just the components of remixing.

  • I think these are the basic elements of all creativity.

  • I think everything is a remix,

  • and I think this is a better way to conceive of creativity.

  • All right, let's head back to 1964, and let's hear

  • where some of Dylan's early songs came from.

  • We'll do some side-by-side comparisons here.

  • All right, this first song you're going to hear

  • is "Nottamun Town." It's a traditional folk tune.

  • After that, you'll hear Dylan's "Masters of War."

  • Jean Ritchie: ♫ In Nottamun Town, not a soul would look out, ♫

  • not a soul would look up, not a soul would look down. ♫

  • Bob Dylan: ♫ Come you masters of war, ♫

  • you that build the big guns, you that build the death planes, ♫

  • You that build all the bombs. ♫

  • Kirby Ferguson: Okay, so that's the same basic melody

  • and overall structure. This next one is "The Patriot Game,"

  • by Dominic Behan. Alongside that,

  • you're going to hear "With God on Our Side," by Dylan.

  • Dominic Behan: ♫ Come all ye young rebels, ♫

  • and list while I sing, ♫

  • for the love of one's land is a terrible thing. ♫

  • BD: ♫ Oh my name it is nothin', ♫

  • my age it means less, ♫

  • the country I come from is called the Midwest. ♫

  • KF: Okay, so in this case, Dylan admits

  • he must have heard "The Patriot Game," he forgot about it,

  • then when the song kind of bubbled back up

  • in his brain, he just thought it was his song.

  • Last one, this is "Who's Going To Buy You Ribbons,"

  • another traditional folk tune.

  • Alongside that is "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right."

  • This one's more about the lyric.

  • Paul Clayton: ♫ It ain't no use to sit and sigh now, ♫

  • darlin', and it ain't no use to sit and cry now. ♫

  • BD: ♫ It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe, ♫

  • if you don't know by now, ♫

  • and it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe, ♫

  • it'll never do somehow. ♫

  • KF: Okay, now, there's a lot of these.

  • It's been estimated that two thirds of the melodies

  • Dylan used in his early songs were borrowed.

  • This is pretty typical among folk singers.

  • Here's the advice of Dylan's idol, Woody Guthrie.

  • "The worlds are 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."

  • (Laughter) (Applause)

  • And that's, that's what Guthrie did right here,

  • and I'm sure you all recognize the results.

  • (Music)

  • We know this tune, right? We know it?

  • Actually you don't.

  • That is "When the World's on Fire," a very old melody,

  • in this case performed by the Carter Family.

  • Guthrie adapted it into "This Land Is Your Land."

  • So, Bob Dylan, like all folk singers, he copied melodies,

  • he transformed them, he combined them with new lyrics

  • which were frequently their own concoction

  • of previous stuff.

  • Now, American copyright and patent laws run counter

  • to this notion that we build on the work of others.

  • Instead, these laws and laws around the world

  • use the rather awkward analogy of property.

  • Now, creative works may indeed be kind of like property,

  • but it's property that we're all building on,

  • and creations can only take root and grow

  • once that ground has been prepared.

  • Henry Ford once said, "I invented nothing new.

  • I simply assembled the discoveries of other men

  • behind whom were centuries of work.

  • Progress happens when all the factors that make for it

  • are ready and then it is inevitable."

  • 2007. The iPhone makes it debut.

  • Apple undoubtedly brings this innovation to us early,

  • but its time was approaching because its core technology

  • had been evolving for decades.

  • That's multi-touch, controlling a device

  • by touching its display.

  • Here is Steve Jobs introducing multi-touch

  • and making a rather foreboding joke.

  • Steve Jobs: And we have invented a new technology

  • called multi-touch.

  • You can do multi-fingered gestures on it,

  • and boy have we patented it. (Laughter)

  • KF: Yes. And yet, here is multi-touch in action.

  • This is at TED, actually, about a year earlier.

  • This is Jeff Han, and, I mean, that's multi-touch.

  • It's the same animal, at least.

  • Let's hear what Jeff Han has to say about this

  • newfangled technology.

  • Jeff Han: Multi-touch sensing isn't anything --

  • isn't completely new. I mean, people like Bill Buxton

  • have been playing around with it in the '80s.

  • The technology, you know, isn't the most exciting thing here

  • right now other than probably its newfound accessibility.

  • KF: So he's pretty frank about it not being new.

  • So it's not multi-touch as a whole that's patented.

  • It's the small parts of it that are,

  • and it's in these small details where

  • we can clearly see patent law contradicting its intent:

  • to promote the progress of useful arts.

  • Here is the first ever slide-to-unlock.

  • That is all there is to it. Apple has patented this.

  • It's a 28-page software patent, but I will summarize

  • what it covers. Spoiler alert: Unlocking your phone

  • by sliding an icon with your finger. (Laughter)

  • I'm only exaggerating a little bit. It's a broad patent.

  • Now, can someone own this idea?

  • Now, back in the '80s, there were no software patents,

  • and it was Xerox that pioneered the graphical user interface.

  • What if they had patented pop-up menus,

  • scrollbars, the desktop with icons that look like folders

  • and sheets of paper?

  • Would a young and inexperienced Apple

  • have survived the legal assault from a much larger

  • and more mature company like Xerox?

  • Now, this idea that everything is a remix might sound

  • like common sense until you're the one getting remixed.

  • For example ...

  • SJ: I mean, Picasso had a saying.

  • He said, "Good artists copy. Great artists steal."

  • And we have, you know,

  • always been shameless about stealing great ideas.

  • KF: Okay, so that's in '96. Here's in 2010.

  • "I'm going to destroy Android because it's a stolen product."

  • (Laughter)

  • "I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this." (Laughter)

  • Okay, so in other words, great artists steal, but not from me.

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, behavioral economists might refer to this sort of thing as loss aversion

  • We have a strong predisposition towards protecting

  • what we feel is ours.

  • We have no such aversion towards copying

  • what other people have, because we do that nonstop.

  • So here's the sort of equation we're looking at.

  • We've got laws that fundamentally treat creative works as property,

  • plus massive rewards or settlements

  • in infringement cases, plus huge legal fees

  • to protect yourself in court,

  • plus cognitive biases against perceived loss.

  • And the sum looks like this.

  • That is the last four years of lawsuits

  • in the realm of smartphones.

  • Is this promoting the progress of useful arts?

  • 1983. Bob Dylan is 42 years old, and his time

  • in the cultural spotlight is long since past.

  • He records a song called "Blind Willie McTell,"

  • named after the blues singer, and the song

  • is a voyage through the past, through a much darker time,

  • but a simpler one, a time when musicians like Willie McTell

  • had few illusions about what they did.

  • "I jump 'em from other writers

  • but I arrange 'em my own way."

  • I think this is mostly what we do.

  • Our creativity comes from without, not from within.

  • We are not self-made. We are dependent on one another,

  • and admitting this to ourselves isn't an embrace

  • of mediocrity and derivativeness.

  • It's a liberation from our misconceptions,

  • and it's an incentive to not expect so much from ourselves

  • and to simply begin.

  • Thank you so much. It was an honor to be here.

  • Thank you. (Applause)

  • Thank you. Thank you. (Applause)

  • Thank you. (Applause)

Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Morton Bast

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【TED】Creativity is a remix | Kirby Ferguson

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    Fatlo posted on 2018/01/30
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