This weekend, I just finished reading the Walter Isaacson book entitled, Steve Jobs (2011, Simon & Schuster). It truly was a fascinating read about a very complex and interesting man. Love him or hate him, Steve Jobs was one of the most influential people of our times.
Aside from the blog chatter and industry lore, I really didn’t know that much about him, which is one of the main reasons I decided to read the book. This is even coming from someone like myself who’s worked with Apple computers since the late 1980’s. With such candid interviews and thorough research gleaned directly from the source by Isaacson, I found a lot of interesting parallels in my own life experiences as both a creative person and one that works a lot with technology every day.
As we all know, the influence of iTunes on the music industry has made a huge impact on the way we purchase and listen to music. When iTunes was being conceived, there was a lot of file sharing and content piracy going on with Napster and many of their counterparts. That situation is not unlike the growing problem of online intellectual property theft going on in and out of the graphic design industry as well.
As I read about the problem at Apple and the delicate ethics and issues surrounding music and intellectual property, I thought I would share this excerpt:
At this point Jobs could have decided simply to indulge piracy. Free music meant more valuable iPods. Yet because he really like music, and the artists who made it, he was opposed to what he saw as the theft of creative products. As he later told me:
From the earliest days at Apple, I realized that we thrived when we created intellectual property. If people copied or stole our software, we’d be out of business. If it weren’t protected, there’d be no incentive for us to make new software or product designs. If protection of intellectual property begins to disappear, creative companies will disappear or never get started. But there’s a simpler reason: It’s wrong to steal. It hurts other people. And it hurts your character.
Well said, Steve. I hope others starting out in the creative field will read that and let it really sink in.
Now, it’s no secret that Steve Jobs was an often ruthless business man. But, after reading this memoir I found him just as passionate about creating great products and often deciding to take the high road to set the right business tone. They were as he put it, at the crossing of humanities and technology.
It’s not often you hear of a CEO at a major company like Apple making this sort of decision on something like others’ intellectual property. And if you decide to read the book yourself, you will realize why. Often times, paybacks can be a b*tch.
The book is not small (571 pages), but I found it read pretty fast with lots of interesting tidbits about the ‘hows and whys’ of the technology industry and its history. Even if you’re not that into Apple, it’s definitely worth the read.