The latest in the series of podcasts on scholarly publication and copyright is an interview with George Stiny, Professor of Design and Computation in the Department of Architecture at MIT, and a member of the faculty committee that put forward the Open Access Policy for a faculty vote in March of 2009. He addresses the problem of copyright in relation to the design process from his perspective as an artist, designer, mathematician, philosopher, and programmer.
In the podcast, Professor Stiny speaks about the importance of appropriation in design. His comments hint at the limitations of the perspective copyright law offers on copying, for disciplines that necessarily and inevitably build on the work of others.
Art, Professor Stiny says, “is about using what you see around you in a new and fresh way, and if that means copying, that means copying.” He tells the story of his daughter, a young artist, who copied a van Gogh painting, even down to the artist’s signature. When he asked why she hadn’t signed her own name, his daughter said, with a smile, “Next time I will.” That is perfectly appropriate, Professor Stiny says, because “her copy added things to it that were fresh and new and let her see it in a new way…that is the source of art.”
His advice to students, the makers of tomorrow’s culture, is “don’t be afraid of copying.” Indeed, he says, copying is “the secret formula” in art and design, and is “as original and creative as anything else we do.”
This news is being reported in celebration of the third anniversary of the Open Access Articles Collection, which houses papers under the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy, and global Open Access Week, which runs from October 22 through 26.
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