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Culture, Creativity & Copyright

David A. Simon

Harvard Law School; University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law

May 26, 2011

Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 28, 2011

Recent literature in copyright law has attacked the traditional theory that economic incentives motivate people to create. Although the onslaught of criticism has come from different directions, it all shares a similar goal: to move copyright law in a direction that reflects actual creative processes and motivations. This Article adds to and diverts from these accounts, arguing that creativity may be a product of memes: units of culture, analogous to genes, that replicate by human imitation.

A memetic theory of creativity focuses on memes as the reference point for thinking about creativity. Under this view, the creator is a brain with limited space, where memes compete for occupancy. Like other views, memetics takes account of environmental and biological factors responsible for creativity, such as nonmonetary motivations and the creator’s upbringing. But the memetic account of creativity is different from these theories in one important way: it uses memes to explain the driving force of culture and creativity. The idea that replicators play a role in cultural creation suggests, among other things, that copyright’s originality requirement should be heightened; that the derivate right should be loosened; that fair use should be retained; and that moral rights should be discarded or substantially revised.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 95

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Date posted: July 2, 2011 ; Last revised: January 11, 2012

Suggested Citation

Simon, David A., Culture, Creativity & Copyright (May 26, 2011). Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 28, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1875145

Contact Information

David A. Simon (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )
10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

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