I’m almost convinced by Jonathan Lethem and Kirby Ferguson. Their opinions are in many ways similar, one focusing more on literary work and the other focusing more on media and entertainment. I do agree with their main argument that “copy is inevitable in modern life”, and that patent laws nowadays seem to be doing more bad than good. However, what I also believe is that the patent laws is not likely to vanish nor change completely because, after all, people are selfish, both mentally and materially.
I found Ferguson’s example of Steve Jobs quite interesting and accurate. In 1996 Steve Jobs said “Good arts copy, great arts steal . And we have always been shamelessly stealing ideas.” But in 2010 he said “I’m going yo destroy Andriod, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.” Steve Jobs is not alone; in fact most people have this kind of logic. People receive inspiration and ideas from existing work, but become protective of their own work. Thus what’s maintaing the patent law is the thought of “I spent a lot of money and time making this so I should be the only one benefitted from this” instead of “I made this and I just want everyone to see this” when a person creates something new. Yes, “a cat may look at a king”, as long as it doesn’t attempt to steal the crown.
People are also protective about what they think are “original”. Their own works of course, and also the works they perceived as THE “original”. The sitcom Ipartment produced by Shanghai Film Group Cporporation and Shanghai Film Studio in 2009 received wide criticism for stealing the plots and lines from earlier American sitcoms such as How I Met Your Mother and Friends. Audience get angry for Ipartment copying what they love, but they don’t seem to care that How I Met Your Mother and Friends may have used the lines from somewhere else. This is why the arguments over patent right are never stopping, leaving the patent laws a hard nut to crack.