This article has been published in the Knowlative Blog on the 18th of July, 2018. If you are missing the first part of this series, you can read it here: Part 1: What is really “Copyright” anyway?.
How do you protect an idea? It is not possible to do it through copyright. But is there another way to do it? There are many, but they work only in specific fields of application. Take patents: they are effective only for invention, accepting the fact that you publish the details of your invention. Or Trademark registration: this kind of registration can protect a recognizable sign, design or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source. No use for an idea.
So how do you really protect an idea? How do you protect an idea in the kinesiology world? How do you protect a new technique that is based on the human body?
Secrecy is one way. Keeping the technique to yourself and maybe a few trusted persons around you may stop others from knowing and using your idea. But is it really worth it? Secrecy can be used at the early stages of the creative process, when you want to test what you created, but not share it widely yet. If knowledge in the health sector does not become public and widespread, it means that very few people can benefit from it, and also the author is not going to gain proper credit from his/her idea, economically and philosophically speaking.
Non-disclosure agreements or non-competition agreements are another way to do it. You can create a contract with your students not to disclose any information of the course or not to compete with you in a specific area of the world and for a specific period of time. It might work economically for a short period of time, but eventually, contracts expire and your technique is going to become public, even if you do not particularly want it to. Moreover, NDA contracts make ideas slow to spread, reducing the benefit of being legally protected and probably reducing the ability of the instructor to benefit from them.
There is another aspect to consider. As the old saying quotes: “Originality is little more than skill in concealing origins.” C. E. M. Joad. Even though we do not completely believe Mr. Joad, when you develop a new idea, when you create a new course or a new manual, you probably need a lot of information coming from other sources. That is the normal process in creativity: you learn, you study and then you codify what you learned from your own, unique perspective, creating new paths and possibilities. And here lies an issue when you decide to protect your own idea: are you able to quote your sources? Do you attribute the correct references to the origins of your idea? Or are you so worried to protect what you created, that you forget to rightly attribute to the authors and researchers that paved the road before you?
Knowlative has a different perspective. It is based on collaboration, on the right attribution of credits to the people that work to create and spread the knowledge, it is based on the principles of the scientific system. It is based on the idea that if you share, you are going to benefit from every point of view.
Part 3: Knowlative and the Scientific Method