A few times over the last few weeks I have been asked what I do with all the material I develop, do I copyright it? Do I protect it with all kinds of legalese? My answer is simple, no, absolutely not. I live and work in the training industry and many would say my answer is crazy that if I don’t protect what I have then what happens if someone steals it?
Well my answer is simple (shit I really am a simple guy aren’t I?) once again, the material I create is nothing Earth shattering. The material I am developing is coming from people I work with, books I read, articles that come across my computer screen. I don’t actually really think anybody anywhere is creating anything completely NEW. I honestly believe that every interaction we have sparks ideas, whether they are acted on now or later or never our brain is constantly making connections and constantly processing information.
I don’t believe it is so much the material as it is the way in which we present material that gets people noticed and why people come to different seminars. Information is power, there is no question about that, but information is only as powerful as it is when we can get others to truly understand it.
One story that comes to my mind is from a presentation I heard at an Arts conference where one of the keynote speakers spoke about a student of hers. The speaker was talking to the crowd about a particular instance where one of her students came to her door to show her a painting. This painting was a gift for the professor (the speaker). Only the speaker was not very happy with it because she said it looked too much like her own pieces. The speaker then went on to say how the student standing before her told her it was a piece she did in honour of her (the speaker) and that she had inspired her so much that she wanted to dedicate a piece to her. My reaction was, “wow, how sweet and how powerful.” Only this was a reaction not shared by the professor (the speaker). Instead the speaker went a rant about stealing other people’s work and protecting your ideas and your work.
I was shocked and saddened by the speakers response. I was especially saddened because of the delicate relationship a professor, a teacher, a mentor, a coach has with any student. Any leader is set in place to inspire and to motivate action. I find it incredibly flattering when someone mimics something I do. Again I go back to the whole, how I do it and how I deliver it will never be the same so if someone puts a spin on something I do I’m flattered and honoured. I also take that as a compliment and a challenge. The challenge becomes to stay on my toes and to continue to self-develop so that the student does not become the teacher.
I will end this post with one person and one story in mind (and hopefully with something for you to think about): Hugh MacLeod (author of Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity) is one of my heroes. Hugh speaks of how he often gets asked if he is worried about his simple graphics on business cards being ripped off (visit this link and go to Chapter 3: Put the hours in). To this question of being ripped off Hugh generally responds by saying, “Only if they can draw more of them than me, better than me“.
I think this is incredible, he is not worried about anyone ripping him off because he is too busy creating and moving forward. He has often said he already have 10,000 drawings more so if someone wants to catch him they have a lot of work ahead of them and hopefully by the time they catch him he would of course have done 10,000 more as well only helping keep him ahead.
So with all of this said, where do you stand on Copyright? Is our world becoming more collaborative and evolving too quick for Copyright? Who will win in the next few years the collaborators? The protectors? Both? Neither? or someone else completely different?
The real reason behind why I wanted to write this article was because I really wanted to tell people to get their shit out there. Just produce, produce like a fiend. If you are worried about copyright and someone stealing your stuff then you aren’t producing enough. Take the words of Hugh MacLeod (yes I am making that joke) and produce more and better. Don’t protect everything you write, produce, or create, because guess what, it probably isn’t that friggin’ Earth shattering anyway so just get it out there so others can experience it and so that you and all of us can grow together.