Do Egyptians fall under the Creative category?
YES. Every human being on earth is creative. This is not an opinion, but a fact. However, each one of us has a different creativity type and level, and is moved by different intentions and motives.
If we are creative beings by nature, then why do we witness so many ‘stolen’ ideas in Egypt?
(Intellectual property infringement happens everywhere, but for this post I am going to focus specifically on Egypt)
I am not writing to be the voice of wisdom here, I can’t is a more accurate way of saying it; I did enjoy the latest season of ‘suits’, and would like to note that Gabriel Macht would be pleased to know that I am a huge fan! Besides, Piracy is a different issue… more or less!
When it comes to intellectual property and how we deal with it, the lack of creativity is what concerns me most.
The more I ruminate on this thought, the more it appears to be about lack of individuality rather than lack of creativity, along with an obvious lack of IP awareness. Designers deal with this on so many levels, and are prone to making many mistakes themselves, especially when they are still design students –I know I did; at the end of the day all creative ideas are inspired and developed from something, and the copying process might subconsciously occur. Writers also face the same thing, they might find themselves writing words similar to something they have read and appears to be stuck at the back of their heads. Yet, as their creative level increases, they become more conscious about their individuality, this requires some work on their creative confidence as well.
Peter Gould is an exceptional designer and artist who has a passion for Islamic design, few months ago he shared that a group of youth from Egypt are commercially using his designs for an “Islamic” T-shirt business. The idea of having t-shirts with an inspiring Islamic theme is creative and is a market niche, it’s the implementation of the idea that took a wrong turn. The guys might just have googled ‘Islamic designs’ and used his work without being aware of anything; after all they are working for a good cause. However, the ends do not justify the means this time. This is the passion and journey of a designer. Value his work. Ask for permission, if it is not granted then hire graphic designers who can create unique designs for your business.
Another case is the rather sad ‘happy page at Egypt’ that has over 37k likes on Facebook! Happiness is mahshy, no doubt. However, happiness is not a lawsuit! The content of ‘last lemon’ is clearly licensed. Their work has touched and reached thousands of people, and again for a great cause; making the world a happier place. This does not justify using their work without permission, even if it is aligned with their mission. Implementing the idea in Egypt at such times is very creative, it is, but collaborating with them would have been a better choice. Collaboration denied? no problem either, it’s their product their vision, get inspired and develop your own unique way of documenting happiness in Egypt.
Lastly, I recently read about the case of fustany.com, it’s very upsetting to see Egyptians who work so hard in such difficult times and courageously decide to follow their dreams, have bigger networks scrap their online content and say things like that’s the norm, it always happens get used to it! It should not be the norm, stealing someone else’s work is not a solution for your creative block!
We need to increase IP awareness in Egypt, this wont just happen by telling people what they shouldn’t do; increasing their sense of individuality and their level of creative confidence should be part of the campaign. Creativity is not a one time thing, it’s an infinite mood of life that we all can experience. Things get confused when creativity is mixed with fahlawa –an egyptian word meaning innovative ways of overcoming obstacles- fahlawa is a creative process, it’s a spontaneous fast design reaction to stubborn problems. Unfortunately through time the word fahlawa has developed a negative connotation, and is sometimes used to describe fast ways of attaining money by conning people.
It’s time to redefine fahlawa, let’s start practicing Ethical Fahlawism!