The Lister List

The Origami Tradition of Sharing

May I say how much I agree with what Valaerie Vann has written at length earlier today on this topic?

Yes, we do have a tradition of sharing in our origami tradition and it is very important and to be cherished. But that does not mean that everything is a free-for-all. As Valerie says, the sharing comes from the giver. The receiver may receive the benefit of the sharing, but he has no right to it.

Sharing came into Origami largely as a result of the warm personality of Lillian Oppenheimer. In those early days around 1958 there was little sense of proprietorship in models or of the importance of copyright. Creative Origami was something new and it was still generally considered that created models were very much the exception and that the great majority of models were "traditional". A traditional model was one of which the original creator had been entirely forgotten, so that there were no proprietary rights in the model. A traditional model, like a folksong, was in the "public domain".

Lillian was impressed with the importance of sharing by her grandson. She learnt that he had himself folded fifty models of the paper cup to share with the members of his class at school. This deeply touched Lillian and thereafter she emphasised the importance of sharing in origami. Paperfolders should be generous with their models, with their teaching and with their time. Fortunately this attitude still persists in abundance. Without it origami conventions would be something very different form the warm, giving and rich occasions that they are.

But sharing did not mean that anyone was allowed to copy and use another folders model as he liked. Nor did sharing abrogate proprietory copyrights. One must still not publish another folder's model without first obtaining permission. And if a folder chose, for some reason, not to publish a model, then that was his own decision. There are many reasons why a model may have to be withheld from the general public for a time, one of which is well-illustrated by Valerie Vann's Magic Rose Cube. I eagerly await the authenic instructions because, although I have on two occasions been taught the Rose Cube, it still hasn't properly sunk in. But I can be patient. As it is, I am overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of the ocean of Origami which I view from the beach on which I stand and I have many other things to keep me occupied.

From the begining, the Origami Center insisted on the proper attribution of models and the principle that models must not be published without the consent of the creator. Lillian played an important part in the formation of the British Origami Society and she attended in person the first few meetings, which took place at the home of her daughter Rosaly Evnine, who then lived in London. So we captured her attitudes. She taught us how to share. She also initiated the tradition of thanking the demonstrator of a model with a short round of applause, which has continued.

When the British Origami Society came to be formally inaugurated, it was written into the constitution that all members would respect copyrights in models and diagrams, wherever they appeared. It was also stated that whatever the legal position, as a matter of courtesy, proper acknowledgement of creator must always be given. There was no legal requirement for this to be in the constitution, but we decided that from the beginning, we would make our position clear. This principle has always been observed in the publications of the Society itself and I know that it also applies in OUSA.

It is a good principle. Long may sharing continue, but may there also be tolerance and respect for creators of models and for other folders

David Lister

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