Thursday, April 10, 2008

George Lucas to patent movies and music

Wall Street Journal, page R6, on 18th of June 2007 has an interview with George Lucas, the inventor of the "Star Wars" industrial complex (it is, isn't it?). Here some of his answers, with comments. Lucas: Painting, music, any kind of art form is essentially technological. The most important part is to be able to communicate emotions. That is the key to what we do.
Greg Aharonian would ask: who is more qualified to assess whether the arts are technological, comprising technical effects: a master artist like Lucas, on non-artistic, non-engineering judges and policies makers in the USPTO, UKPO, EPO, and courts? I think Lucas. Maybe some aspects are mostly "non-technological", whatever that means, but then - who cares - LUNDGREN!! Especially if one considers the growing avalanche of papers in science and engineering journals on the production of the arts. "Painting, music, any kind of art form is essentially technological." It is - Lucas is right. And technology is subject to the patent system.
Lucas: I liken digital technology to going from fresco to oil painting. If you are doing a fresco, you needed about at least two dozen people. It was done by candlelight, and it was very hard to do. The fact that they can make it consistent over a long time is a marvel. But if you use oil paints, you can go outside. You can see the light play on your subject, which completely revolutionized art [a technology revolution]. At the same time, if you don't like what you're doing, you can paint right over it and start over. You can't do that with frescoes.
With film, that's what happened. It used to be [with] film, you went out and shot it, whatever you got was what you got. Sometimes people would sit out there for days and days and days trying to get it right because they knew they only had one shot at it and they weren't gong to be able to come back.
With digital technology, we can go in and shoot it, the way would an oil painting. Then you can go back to your studio and touch it up. You can completely manipulate it. It's much more like a painting than it is like photography.
It's also more like a circuit diagram, a computer program, architectural design - you can completely manipulate it. And you can have libraries of stock components, which when functionally combined can be automatically optimized. Etc., etc., etc. - Lucas is talking about engineered production - technology, which everywhere else is protected with patents.
Q: "Jurassic Park" was shot entirely digitally? LUCAS: No, but the dinosaurs were digital. Compared to stop motion, which is what we did before, they [the digital versions] were so real looking that that was the breakthrough. A technological breakthrough. LUCAS: We could actually create real things digitally that would fool anybody. [Then] I said I want to shoot digitally. I can cut digitally. I can do the effects digitally. I want to work the whole way digitally.
That is, the whole way technologically. And new articles of manufacture are patentable.