traditionally public?

I have a strange way of mixing things up. I really hate this innate tendency sometimes.

Just a few days ago a question was raised as someone took a picture from the post of one of our very good fellow metroblogger and used it on Wikipedia. As this blog is written with Creative Commons license, hence all the content is meant to be freely available for usage and distribution without any restrictions. But the point was, the photograph didn’t belong to our fellow metroblogger.

There is a friend, whenever he comes – oh God, I just realised that he got away with my cellphone’s hands-free today – he just picks something that he likes and takes it with him. No questions asked, no, nothing. Sometimes I feel like some public service. He takes your perfumes, accessories (like today); he took my guitar two years ago and never returned, and my sheesha (water pipe), to name a few. I always get the feeling that in our culture we give so many liberties to people around us, even on our own expense.

Coming back to my point, I realised that we people – Asians – are much more communists. We have the power to share; with family, friends and society in general. We don’t really promote individualism (in the real meanest sense of the word) that much. And that goes with our overall culture, quite different than European or American cultures I must say, where everybody is so keen and mean about their own self and belongings. It’s also natural to us, to use anybody’s work freely; not really stealing, but we treat every work as public entity, without even thinking about it. Perhaps, just because deep down inside us we’re all Open Source loving people? Or unintentionally we feel, that everything is public. Things for people, not the other way around?

This perhaps makes FLOSS (Free Software/Open Souce) model naturally suitable to us Asians. If you carefully look around, you might find neighbouring countries India, China, Iran and for that matter everybody else turning to Open Source, while we still stick to petty piracy issue. So if someone stands up saying, ‘you #%#$% thief, you copied my work’, we might stare him for minutes. Ain’t it true? Intellectual property rights, okay. Copyright, fine. But my point is, it doesn’t belong here. Perhaps, I’m just nuts. I know I don’t make sense, but then again I don’t want to. Communists/community-loving-dudes are not always bad, like all capitalists are not gays!

Note: The author himself has been implied in a copyright lawsuit which has been discharged just two days ago.

4 Comments so far

  1. Bulla (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 3:40 pm

    Very true!

    “There is a friend, whenever he comes – oh God, I just realised that he got away with my cellphone’s hands-free today – he just picks something that he likes and takes it with him.”

    This one cracked me up! :D

  2. Ramla A. (unregistered) on November 18th, 2006 @ 10:57 pm

    First, congratulations on coming out clean!

    Overall, copyrights need to be reconsidered given the social norms and living standards of our region. Esp. when it comes to global dissemination of products such as Windows. I’ve come to believe that laws are not universal, rather they grow from cultures. Except, of course, gloden principles and Divine Laws.

    Now about the “public thing.” Personally, I am uncomfortable with the way we step into each others’ lives. Whereas I’ve partly traced my dislike to a more western-oriented thinking, I do believe that there are areas where we have to mark individual boundaries.

    I like Stephen Covey’s model the best, i.e. a person grows through these sequential stages:

    Stage 1. dependence
    Stage 2. independence
    Stage 3. inter-dependence

    I feel that our society jumps from dependency to inter-dependency. And the archetypal Western stops at the second stage of independence/ “mean” individualism.

    The best is the middle way, which is the above.

    What do you say?

  3. Original-Anon (unregistered) on November 19th, 2006 @ 8:32 pm

    I really don’t think you can justify the piracy by implying that the Asians are just too generous to be bound by such laws. If Pakistanis were all such sharing people, we would not see the dichotomy that exists between socio-economic classes.I would love to see you sharing your ipod or digital camera with your cook, for example.
    We in America do respect personal boundaries; be it our or others’ belongings or personal space. I think it is good manners and not ‘meanness’ as you would have it. Part of it may be that what we have is hard earned. We have worked for it, not just handed things by our parents.
    You yourself are obviously irritated by your own friend’s behavior and that he does not show any respect for other people’s belongings. You might want to try a little ‘meanness’ next time and tell him no, he can’t have your phone :)

  4. Darwaish (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 3:33 am

    yasir :).. why cn’t you walk into his room and start picking things you like? starting from your own guitar :P

    I am most irritated when somebody just comes in and takes one of my favorite books from my room. Its not about being possessive but when they return it, if they ever do, its in such a bad shape that I can hardly recognize it. I have always struggled to figure out a polite way to say NO .. specially when its your mamoo, chaacha or a very dear friend who are also telling you “oh don’t worry I will return it very soon” and you know they won’t. Any tips?

    About copyrights issue, I agree with you. I don’t think we have a choice here simply because of economic reasons. Take Microsoft for example. They know very well that many people in Pakistan simply cannot afford anything more than Rs 30 or 50 for a CD and yet they talk about enforcing copyrights. What choice do we have if Microsoft is not willing to ‘share’? Surely we can’t deny millions of people access to latest software. I will not call it stealing because it is a matter of survival if you ask me. Actually in such cases, we should be reminding them basic human rights.

    Copyright is a very complicated issue so I think it depends what is it we are talking about and the objective. For instance, if you use a picture published in a news paper or a magzine to highlight poverty in Pakistan, like I did here, then as long as you clearly mention your source, it really shouldn’t be an issue because you are actually spreading the message, unless you are nuts :D.

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