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Reconciling Copyright with Cumulative Creativity

The Third Paradigm

Giancarlo Frosio

Reconciling Copyright with Cumulative Creativity: The Third Paradigm examines the long history of creativity, from cave art to digital remix, in order to demonstrate a consistent disparity between the traditional cumulative mechanics of creativity and modern copyright policies. Giancarlo Frosio calls for the return of creativity to an inclusive process, so that the first (pre-modern imitative and collaborative model) and second (post-Romantic copyright model) creative paradigms can be reconciled into an emerging third paradigm which would be seen as a networked peer and user-based collaborative model.
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Chapter 4: Individualism and the original genius

Giancarlo Frosio


Where the tension between the communal and individual nature of creativity comes to the fore. A brief historical excursus on the emergence of early individualistic approaches to creativity precedes a discussion of the emergence of the privilege system and an introduction to the copyright and droit d’auteur revolution. The reasons for such epochal change come to light in a review of the theoretical and historical landscape leading to the emergence of the 2nd Paradigm. This was a subtle, rather than radical, shift. In particular, copyright reform is located within the broader context of the birth of the individual, the idea of original genius that first emerged with Dürer and Renaissance super-artists, and the rise of the Romantic author. Further, probing the demise of imitation and borrowing as constitutive elements of aesthetics yields an outline of the misperceptions that led to an outright abandonment of the premodern imitative paradigm and sidelined the cumulative and collaborative nature of creativity in the policy discourse. As the next section will explicate, finally, copyright law rapidly became distributor – rather than author – centred.

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