Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Thoughts on Plagiarism in the Creative Marketplace

Subliminal hand work created by Nea.

It's dirty.
Deep down, in the very core of my being, I believe that we were created to be unique, and to create unique things. Sometimes designers, artists and crafters fall below their creative potential and steal someone else's work.
The truly amazing world wide web has flashed images of art and design, craft and photo into our minds -one after another with increasing speed. The delivery is exhilarating and overwhelming -but is any of it really new? A wise man once wrote "Nothing is new under the sun". Our ideas have grown and matured and changed -but at its very core -is anything really original? But we are created to create and what artists share is meant to be enjoyed. We are naturally inspired by good design -sometimes we may even desire to recreate that product as an exercise in learning -that is okay. Don't put your name on it and don't sell it. Give credit where credit is due.

What do I do if I like someone else's craft?
  • Think long and hard before you choose to copy; a designer's income and reputation is at stake. Ask yourself what do you like about the artist’s work? How can you use the inspiration as a stepping stone to something even greater?  It may be best to simply appreciate your neighbor's talents and focus on developing your own unique brand of photos, presentation, copy and design. 

What do I do if I think someone else is copying my work?
  • Think long and hard before you accuse someone of copying. The accused could actually have the same thoughts about your work -could it be a mere matter of coincidence and therefore even be used against you? We are influenced by the same culture and visit the same circles. Give your competitor the benefit of the doubt. If the copy and paste is blatant -please stick up for yourself, politely and professionally. And never slander in a public forum. We're trying to avoid being dirty -right?

I also encourage you to read DIY is not Duplicate it yourself from Decor8.  Also, if you don't read this thought provoking article from Paper n Stitch, at least view the poster!


  1. Oh my goodness...I spent a massive amount of time commenting and now it's gone! So forgive me if this is a rambling mess :(

    Education is key - and I think this is a good start!

    From a view point of a photographer, it's hard to say when some one is infringing - the fundamental ideas of photography are always going to be the same (lighting, posing, etc) - where do you draw the line? David LaChapelle recently filed a lawsuit against several musicians for their music videos stating that they too closely resembled photo shoots he did for them...his ideas - while certainly innovative - are nothing new; was it in their contract or spelled out somewhere?

    Also, as a photographer, clients have a hard time understanding why I don't allow physical prints out of my sight for any length of time...with widely available scanners or other digital reproduction equipment and inexpensive printing services, it isn't hard for me to feel like I'd be taking a HUGE loss if I did. (Much to the disbelief of many, photo sessions are not our main source of income - it's all in the reprints). How do I satisfy the client's wish for hard-copy proofs without watermarking them to death?

    I think there is a fine line between inspiration and blatant infringement, especially with the breadth of the online community - how do we as creative folks educate fellow artists and clients about copyright laws without coming across as greedy or stingy?

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post and I love your shop on Etsy...the felt is wonderful!

  2. Thanks for speaking up Kim! I agree that infringement can come on the heels of inspiration -another reason to aspire to set ourselves apart from the rest! I just read this fabulous article by Princess Lasertron that addresses some of our questions -go read it! http://princesslasertron.com/2011/02/makeityours/


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