Material from earlier theatre can be brought into a production in the same way as personal material is brought in. Just as the performer refines, distorts, condenses, and selects from his life experiences, so fragments from earlier dramas can be worked into the play at hand. Only since the intrusion of stupid laws and notions regarding originality has this rich vein of creativity been stopped. Shakespeare and Moliere without their plagiarisms would be much poorer playwrights. An art that is in essence transformational and transmutational should not surrender any of its sources, its deep springs. The modern idea of originality is a lawyer-capitalist construction geared to protecting private property and promoting money-making. It is anti-creative, and inhibits the reworking of old themes in the light of new experience. It is the constant reworking and elaboration of old material- call it plagiarism if you like- that is the strongest sinew of tradition.
Good artists copy, great artists steal.
– Steve Jobs, Interview in 1994.
Two separate incidents happened this week which I found to be interesting when juxtaposed against each other.
- Samsung was found guilty in the case of copying the iPhone.
- Cecilia Gimenez ruined a 100 year old fresco.
One of these acts was mocked openly and laughed at; the other had people laughing at one party, and fearful of what would happen with the other.
One of these acts basically destroyed a work of art; the other stole ideas to create something new.
One of these acts was a forgivable offense; the other is going to send a tsunami of repercussions that will not be completely felt for years.
The punishment brought down against Samsung is pretty negligible considering the size Apple is now. The final fine they have to pay is over 1 billion dollars. Which sounds like a lot, but Apple is profiting around 30 billion dollars a year from just the iPhone alone (does not include the iPad, Mac, iPod, etc).2 Apple doesn’t even know what to do with the cash they have on hand now, so I find it puzzling that they were concerned about what Samsung was doing.
Meanwhile, Cecilia Gimenez ruined a fresco, because she was upset about the way it had been deteriorating over the years. She isn’t being punished, because the city believes she acted with “good intentions.” The fresco is unlikely to be recovered to its original form, but that hasn’t stopped people poking fun at the problem (see image above).
It could be argued that Samsung was acting with “good intentions,” as well. I don’t believe Samsung (or Google, the makers of the Android operating system) were trying to make an exact copy of the iPhone to fool people, but rather are in the process of reworking the original iPhone design. The same can be said of Apple reworking some of the features from Android, most noticeably the notification center (check out this post from Android Police).
I think Steve sums up my thoughts exactly in his comment at the bottom of that article:
I, for one, am sick of the running legal battles. We, as customers, benefit from the innovations that occur from the competitive atmosphere. Our products improve with the minor attempts at reverse engineering, making our devices improve at a rate not possible in a less competitive environment. They win over customers with superior products, not great legal presentations. Wave the white flags, guys, and get back to doing business.
Apple set out to reinvent the phone, they succeeded in doing that, but the iPhone is not as widely accessible as most of Samsung’s phones. Android phones come in a variety of sizes and feature sets, plus various prices from pre-paid to premium phones. iPhones are still trapped in one size, and are only now starting to branch off into all price tiers.
I wonder if the mobile world would have exploded like it has the past five years without Samsung’s work on smartphones.