Necessity is the Mother of Invention

“Necessity is the mother of invention”

When the need for something becomes imperative, you are forced to find ways of getting or achieving it.

– New Oxford American Dictionary, second edition.

There is a premise offered by the copyright lobby that I feel is adequately summed up with the following:

The problem with piracy is that it kills investment in culture – not just the financial investment of a music or film company, but the creative investment of the artist and creator. It takes time, toil and money to make that track or album that will inspire audiences across the world.

– Frances Moore, Chief Executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (Guardian).

I’m not sure of the solidity of this premise. It seems to me that the phonographic industry is suggesting that without the involvement of a monetary incentive, music would effectively die. This doesn’t quite convince me, because I’ve always taken more of a view akin to this:

Great art is never created from self-interest. It can only be created when an artist is driven by their creative impulse, and applies discipline to develop their talents. Great art is never consumed from a sense of self-advancement. It is consumed with wonder, for entertainment, to take oneself away from our normal lives.

– Renai Lemay, Delimiter.

The United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights says this:

Article 15

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone:

(a) To take part in cultural life;

Cultural participation is so important that it is enshrined in International Covenants! Humans must have a cultural life.

So why all this rambling? What is the point? The point is that without a monetary incentive, culture is still a necessity for human existence. People don’t stop making music, films and artworks merely because they aren’t being paid for them. It takes dedication to your craft above all else to produce something creative. And this extends into inventions too. People don’t stop inventing things because they can’t patent and sell them. They invent things because they need them. When you need culture or you need inventions, you create them or find someone who is willing to take on the challenge.

And I think Renai Lemay is right – when people are engrossed in what they’re doing and actually love what they’re working on, it’s far better than being given a wad of cash and being told “there, we’re investing in you to make money from what you do.” This actually puts off a lot of people from innovating. Why? Because suddenly they’re under pressure to be commercially viable, and no one wants to take unnecessary risks when big bucks are involved.


Author: Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer

Pirate Party Australia Deputy Secretary and Press Officer. Former member of the Pirate Parties International Court of Arbitration.

2 thoughts on “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”

  1. Aye. Annoying thing is, of course, then you need to find an actual job that pays, which means you have less time to do what you actually enjoy. So I guess you lose either way. 😛

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