Javanese batikers say thanks but no thanks to copyright

Peter sez, "This article in the Jakarta Globe describes the resistance of Javanese batik-makers to suggestions from well-meaning government officials that they copyright their motifs. Looks like the batikkers have their own model of open-source design: 'They believe that each time they create something, it is not they who worked, but it is God who worked through their human body and soul...Being grateful [to God] is sufficient for them.'"

Candra Malik (Thanks, Peter!)

(Image: Candra Malik, JG)


  1. Crap, I wonder how Reddit would react to this.

    God != Good
    Copyright != Good
    God != Copyright

    Does not compute. Does not compute. Does not compute.

  2. As a dancer, I have always hoped someone else was responsible for the artistic sins and unsavory gyrations my vile body committed on the dance floor.

    Relief at last…

  3. in my moments of (unfortunately, usually drug induced) creative productivity i have always felt as though i was merely the conduit for the work to manifest, like the art was itself some kind of organism, perhaps a virus, that needed me to replicate itself.

    that’s so awesome that the batik artists are saying that. now if only they could make some law saying nobody is allowed to copyright batik designs. i unfortunately see trolls under this bridge.

  4. “Anyone who has ever deeply investigated the arts
    knows for sure that the process is not initiated inside oneself.”

    Not anyone and certainly not me. Look deeper and you’ll realise you don’t need a higher power to create.

  5. Takuan,
    they don’t need us at all,
    they just see us as we see our pets, trying to do cute things and causing amusement as we try to guard our imaginary territories.

  6. Sadly, I know what’s going to happen. Someone ELSE is going to copyright their designs and then block them from using them. At least, that’s what would happen in the U.S. And yes, I’m way too cynical.

  7. Wow!

    I completely agree with what Dorothy Haskin said — ‘This is easily one of the most uplifting copyright-related posts ever at Boing Boing.’

    These batik-makers have got it absolutely right, and they’ve done it without even resorting to Creative Commons. The problem is, all the pressure is going the wrong way. We’re trying to ram our ugly, borked copycrap model down their throats when we should be emulating them.

    These guys are my new heroes. Respect.

  8. Isn’t this also true about most classical musical pieces at the time it was created? I’m not sure if it was the Baroque period or not but composers at the time didn’t really name their musical scores because they believe they were merely the instrument of God from where their inspiration of the music were derived.

  9. I vaguely remember taking a required music course back in college where I the instructor said during the Baroque period most composers didn’t “name” their scores because they believe they were the instrument of God from where their creation were derive from and it would be wrong take credit for their creation.

  10. This seems like an interesting point in the copyfight discussion: whether copyright supporters are taking credit for God’s inspiration. It only works for religious folks, but it should really make them think a little more before reciting slogans.

  11. Brianary said —

    It only works for religious folks

    Actually, that’s not true. I’m not religious — quite the reverse — and it totally works for me.

    I think in fact the critical thing isn’t religion, it’s humility.

  12. Glad to hear it. Copyrighting stuff like that changes artistry into a rubber stamp world with the innovation and variation slowly being leached out as various motifs become locked up by license and royalty. Learning from, borrowing and mixing that naturally occurs in the creative process is destroyed, leaving us all culturally poorer.

  13. It’s wonderful that they think that God is responsible for their art.

    Is God also responsible for the people who will steal it, and profit from it?

    @Dorothy: interesting that cultures feel the need to build imperfections into their work — as though it would be perfect if they didn’t imperfect it. If only God can do it perfectly, then we should all strive to be perfect, and understand that it’s a goal we cannot reach.

    Sorry, feeling a bit cynical this morning. I really do think what the batik makers are doing is wonderful and feels great. I just hope they don’t get screwed.

  14. people who believe in something …

    let’s show them what the is really going on.

    have i/we gone too far?

Comments are closed.