Monday, June 15, 2009

On Copying...

I think one of the most common topics to come up in creative fields is "copying" and more negatively – being "ripped off". I've seen arguments made for both sides and seen tempers flare and erupt into violent disputes. Needless to say, it can be a very complicated situation. Below you'll find various blog posts from folks of all different backgrounds covering many aspects of the subject (on both sides of the fence) that I think make excellent food for thought. (Since the collection of these posts goes back several months ago, some of the opinions have changed, been amended, or expounded upon and therefore are merely a cross-section of ideas.)

17 comments:

Marbella Designs said...

I read several of those posts when they were originally posted.
I am inspired by everything around me even other designers. But I wouldn't never intentionally copy another designers' design.
I have a necklace that I strung a few weeks ago, but just never got around to listing it in my Etsy shop. And then I saw a similar design from another designer who I like very much and now I feel weird listing my necklace for fear of someone thinking I copied it.
And truly, so many of us use the same components that you're bound to come up with similar creations without even knowing it.
Oh what to do, what to do?

Heather said...

“Imitation is the highest form of flattery”.
Several years ago I visited the Pompeii exhibit. This city in Italy was tragically destroyed and buried by over 60 feet of volcanic ash in 79 A.D. It was accidentally rediscovered in 1748. The stories of the people and how they lived is incredible, especially if you consider just how long ago that was.
This is where I learned of the arrogance of those consumed by their ignorance regarding being copied. The jewelry on display at this exhibit is breathtaking, along with the use of gemstones still very much used today such as Emerald, Ruby, and Carnelian to name just a few.
Rather than using our computers to blog about being copied and the injustice of it, perhaps today’s artists could spend some time taking in the ancient art of those who came before us?
-Heather, Chicago, IL (non blogger but a fan of kind people and their amazing blogs. Thank you Andrew).

Softflexgirl said...

This is definitely a hot button topic for many. It is interesting to see all of the differing opinions.

jeweledrabbit/Maureen said...

This a very good roundup of posts on this issue. It's interesting to see what a wide range of points of view there are on copying.

Cynthia Thornton said...

This IS a hot topic! I have a very hard time seeing jewelry design as a black and white, I did it first, so I own whatever design. The fact is, folks have been making jewelry since the dawn of mankind, adorning their bodies for status, beauty and for protection. One can find 'y-necklaces' in books about egyptian art, when that was considered a 'new' look some years ago. I consider it copying when the elements are exact, or directly cast from. I don't have a problem when artists come up to the table and ask to take a pic, its fine! I'm often amused when they feel the need to sneak pics with camera phones! I just get the piece down and offer a place with better light. Using my design is great, because more often than not, that piece will evolve, change to something unique. And they use my beads, what's not to like? My issue is direct casts, like taking a bead and shipping it off to have it re-cast and sold cheaper. For one, the piece is a second generation, which means the detail will be soft, second, the materials are often poopy. Why remake something in inferior metal, with little detail when the original goods are inexpensive? It is troublesome and the opinions are wide and varied. I imagine it will heat up some blood!

Gaea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gaea said...

As my design teacher in college would say (Gosh! I wish I could remember his name to give him credit for the quote!) "A good idea doesn't care who it belongs to." And yet It sometimes feels horrible to find that your seemingly great idea was also had by someone else. I guess it just goes to show that we are all connected. No person is an island....

kate mckinnon said...

I think that if I were to lay out my definitive opinion on copying, I would give a lot more thought to it than my rant about a rude photographer, whose MINE BANNER covered the entire bottom of his image.

Copying and imitation is an issue that all artists have intense feelings about. Mine are quite mixed, but I simply made a decision many years ago that I was not going to spend energy defending work that I had already done. It's insulting to the cosmic force and actually impedes the free flow of new ideas, which ought to flow like water from a tap.

Protecting an idea almost always turns into defending a rut. If I inspire people, I'm happy as hell about it, and if they copy my work, then my hope for them is that they evolve to have an original take on it.

I live my entire life under a Creative Commons license, which says, basically, "take what you like, play with it, and just remember to mention where you got it."

People who are constantly worried about who is ripping them off are only cheating themselves, and considerably more deeply than the people actually using their ideas.

Gardanne said...

It is so refreshing to see all these shades of gray emerge in conversations about "copying." For a while there it was all black and white, wrong and right, and bad and good.

One thing that is clearly wrong in my mind is exact copying, like the casting of Cynthia's pieces. Unfortunately, if someone is willing to go to that place, none of these conversations will change them.

Thank you Andrew, for offering a variety of viewpoints.

nina said...

thank you, my friend. xoxo

RupaB said...

I often think of leaving a comment whenever I read about this issue...but then I think it is a waste of time for one to rant or rave!

As someone who has been writing articles for a long time now, I really don't care if people are selling exact copies of my designs...why? because as a creative person I feel sad for the person that does not have an ounce of creativity or decency! Its all about Karma, one has to pay the price for doing something wrong and reap from doing good.

As for me - I know I WILL create something spectacular today (not meant to sound pompous), and something even better tomorrow...as for the piece that was copied from the day before, it is history....who really cares!

kate mckinnon said...

Nicely said, Rupa! I feel exactly the same. Why waste any moments of our life chasing people who are in our yesterdays?

Anonymous said...

interesting and timely comments...

RupaB said...

Hey Kate...thanks, I'm sure your work is being copied a zillion times and I'm not exactly sure if you are given the due credit, but from all of "us" thank you for creating such beautiful pieces and for an incredible blog that inspires so many of "us"!

paula best said...

hey andrew....i'm a little late on the response here....but i personally found it interesting that you took the time to assemble all these different views of opinions....nothing i could imagine anyone would waste time being pissed off about. i see it as a nice composite of different opinions....that someone got nasty to you is very ugly and undeserved. and i have to think that it is their problem if they can't handle the thought of different opinions....crappy of them.

Catherine Aliff said...

Sorry to come to the party late on this. HOWEVER, I can respect everyone's opinion on this stuff BUT...copying is stealing - period. I deal with it every day. If it is a technique (how to wrap a wire, a process, an idea...) that would be patentable and covered under patent law IF someone chose to pursue the patent. If they do not within a year...as a general rule...then the technique, process, etc. can be used.
Designs are a different deal. Imitation is NOT the greatest form of flattery if your piece was used as the inspiration. It is possible to have two pieces that are alike, yet created totally independently...and that is ok. However, copying is copying. It is as if someone broke into your home and stole something. You wouldn't say...It's alright. Your business is your designs and it is what makes you money.
I feel passionately about this as I see so many artist allowing their hard work and creativity to be stolen and they let it happen so as not to "offend" or "be part of a greater good." Theft is theft!

Margot Potter said...

This is an endlessly complicated issue. It's clouded by the fact that it's hard to define the difference between similar ideas occurring simultaneously and flat out theft. There is a distinct difference between being inspired...and being lazy.

I don't focus on the negative in life, I believe that I'm smart enough and talented enough to always be ahead of the curve. I don't like seeing my designs copied and then sold for profit, but it happens. I feel like it's often a matter of education, we need to make distinctions. Not everyone understands the rules and as we can see here, artists can't even decide what they are!

My entire career is about inspiring creativity. Take my ideas and add your own uniquely wonderful creative juice to them! That's my intention. I can't police everything...but I don't like when people steal my blog or pages from my website and copy and paste them into theirs. I think it's okay to be offended by that!

Ah well...the internet has created a new and fascinating dynamic.

Love
Madge