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Re: Sustainable creativity in a world without copyright

Sustainable creativity post Copyright

Ah! A nice topic I've been researching and thinking about this year, a lot...

I'll leave a few comments for a very long discussion that usually sparks.

Warning: Long text ahead. I'm sharing a personal interpretation of reality with the hope that I'll help someone, perhaps myself too.


I worked 4 years for a huge international corporation, the most important in its area. Then I left everything and started an indie life working on software and videogames, most recently on board games (the big dream). Currently, I'm the co-founder of a few laboratories and indie game studios in Latin America and USA.

We are researching different systems like the traditional corporations, collectives, cooperatives, non-profits and such. Not an expert but at less, I have a few miles following different paths.

I'm not a visual artist or a sales guy. I have to hire artists and delegate sales to some other organizations. I'm more a manager and a code person.

Also, I'm a visitor professor in videogame universities. And a nosy person trying to understand the world.

On capitalism

Ah! The forbidden word. I've seen and heard this word many times this year. Perhaps the reason for each evil in the world.

When we oversimplify we only see the symptoms, not the reasons and why it's gonna be difficult to pass to the next stage of humanity. And that's a very long conversation when we feel so little power to change the way a whole planet is living. Yes, it's the 'best system' we have, and it's full of flaws.

That being said I think there are required alternatives. I've discussed a lot of perspectives on how to have a better life for ourselves, our families, our groups, our cities, communities, countries, and at the end to a connected world.

We could talk for hours about what is and is not capitalism. That would influence the remaining text. It includes definitions like alienation, royalties, ownership, labour, valuable activities, talking about handicaps, purpose, means and meanings, supply and demand, markets and so many interesting things I only know in my way, so I'll leave the research on that to each person.

On copyright

Usually, we (our indie group) don't register our works under the copyright system. We release it to the public and at the moment it covers the expenses, then we register the work to have some protection over bad people stealing our "intellectual property". Never someone has done that, I have to say, we are small I think.

It has been hard for us to open source projects or publish them as Creative Commons since we don't fork from another project and we create most of the initial work from scratch. And many other reasons. I'll discuss it a little bit more later.

On sustainable life

That has been by pain in the latest 6 years. Living as a creative collective, covering the expenses and having a decent lifestyle. We are not that greedy corporation exploiting and squeezing people in need, although I've seen friends exchanging their best years for a decent life for their children. I've also seen people with enough 'privilege' to reject bad conditions and live above their means. Many different cases on how to sustain their creativity.

I'll leave my two most important references on sustainability and life success:

Minimum Sustainable Success
Redefining Success

I'm trying to live those terms, but in fact, has been difficult, to say the least.

About being an owner

Ownership is another long conversation, required to understand Copyright, Copyleft, legal systems, and rights themselves.

Usually, our team members say "I prefer the safety of an employment and a wage that the risk of being an owner (as a creative, freelancer or shareholder)"

Very often they don't think they deserve to share the belonging of a collective product. The benefits of it. What I have seen is a need to own something, but in a personal way, not involving other roles. For example when someone wants to sell 'their child/product' to pay the expenses.

I know, it's a consequence of the system we live in, and also some traits of our biased brain. How do we break it?

Most of the artists and programmers I've talked to have a bad relationship with resources, money, production means, intellectual property, systems. Not understanding the world we live in and how to hack it. Dreaming than in the future everything is going to work better (Spoiler: Is not)

Most of the people I've talked to are used to playing the game. Perhaps complaining if the rules are not in their favour, but not doing anything to make it work. And I know, for some people is unfair, they simply can't do anything else, and it depends on someone else to fix it. Who's gonna do that?

On Subsidy and Subdization

Something we see in class is the History of art, and how and why the art is created. There are many reasons, being a Hobbie, being a call, or only a job to pay for a lifestyle.

A question I ask my students.

Where does the money to pay the artists come from?

Usually, they don't know and they don't care.

It can come from previous sales, from a rich family, from crime, from a subsidy from the government (like many indie movies do). From the pockets of some 'entrepreneurs' willing to create some profit. From a group of artists willing to live the dream. From the free time during school.

What I've learned in recent years is that most of the ways are valid and personal, only when you are getting closer to a decent lifestyle. And that's the catch... What's a decent lifestyle?

Is this variety of sources that make the analysis hard. Is it unfair that I cannot live doing what I love? Why do I have to monetize my hobby? Why does the art need to be valuable for an audience and not only for me?

On Ikigai

A few months ago I discussed with a friend about the meaning of "Life purpose".

The conclusion is that very often our hobbies and our professions are related, but hardly can't be the same.

It's a misinterpretation from Western society:

Ikigai Misunderstood and the Origin of the Ikigai Venn Diagram

And it connects with what we were discussing. The purpose of life is not to make money, it's a mean for a bigger life. We need to eat, we "need to buy" our free time, we need resources to beat the system. How many resources before becoming greedy? That's the interesting part.


It's easy to analyze, to talk, to write, to complain. We have the ideas, the actions are missing.

The old saying is:

“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought…”

I'll leave the questions I always make among friends (and I know I shouldn't do it, sorry, I can't help it).

What's next? What are we going to do to fix what we don't like? How are we going to approach the present and the future?

I'll leave the actions to you, the dear reader...



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