Standing on the Shoulders of Free Culture

This is a crosspost of an article that I wrote for Commons Machinery:

In her earlier post, Antje Käske mentioned that „intellectual creations are never the sole creation of one individual.“ I would go even further, stating that you can not claim ownership on intellectual goods at all. Why is that? The answer lies in the origin of an idea. If I was inspired by someone else, how do I determine which part of the idea is mine?

This makes more sense with an example. Let’s choose a simple one: I am hungry. My friend comes in, eating some fries. They smell delicious and I decide to get some for me too. So whose idea was it to get some fries? Since my friend had the idea (for herself) first, it seems obvious that it was her idea. On the other hand, I have been hungry a long time and fries did enter my mind as a possible solution. Also she did not think of bringing some fries for me otherwise she might have called to find out if I wanted some. The idea to get fries for me was clearly mine. But it was very much inspired by her. And she could easily say „Hey! You got fries for yourself. You copied me.“ That is partially true! Under these circumstances, it is not possible to define who owns which part of the idea to get me some fries.