Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Plagiarism - the sincerest form of flattery?

Every day I see evidence of copying. Throughout the pages of facebook, one business or another becomes victim to this crime. I have myself been through it, from my own photographs being used to promote work they can do, to designs that have been more than influenced by my own. Luckily, I haven't ended up in any disputes but plenty of people do.

Currently, a good friend of mine is going through a horrid case of plagiarism and it got me thinking about it all. What we are talking about it theft. Pure and simple.
 

 When you see a picture of a new product or design posted on a facebook page, or on twitter, instagram, google+, that design hasn't just happened. It didn't just pop up without any effort whatsoever. It needed thought, process, evolution, practice, mistakes, learning, juggling, and finalising before agonising as to whether it is right, if it is finished, if it is good, if it is worth it. Sketches, workbooks, mock ups, templates. Every now and again something works straight away, without any mistakes at all, but a lot of the time, it takes more time getting the design right than it does making the item itself. And then there is all the shopping for materials, hunting for the right fabric, colour, paint, glaze, whatever medium you are working in, it doesn't just land in your lap without any research. 


What I am saying might seem completely obvious to the majority of you, but there will be a few who see something they like and think 'ooo I could do that!'  The amount of times I have heard people say 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' well, that may be true for some, but I don't agree. Imitation is lack of imagination and lack of integrity. It is lazy and selfish. It is unfair, both to the original designer and the customer. 

I think being an influence to others is completely flattering. For people to say they have been inspired by your work is a huge boost. But to copy it, well that's just crap.




33 comments:

  1. Here here!!! It happens when I stand at fairs too, people pick up well thought out designs and photograph them before saying 'oh I can make that'. Rude I call it!

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    1. I've had it happen to me too - outrageous!!

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  2. Brilliant Helen! and a very well timed post!. I totally agree about imitation NOT being a form of flattery!. If someone wanted to flatter me they could heap praise instead!!

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    1. Absolutely Andrea! Like, ooo nice shoes for example!! xxx

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  3. It is very frustrating, i have had people actually buy things to say as they walk away that they will take them apart and make them themselves!!

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  4. Thank you for speaking out Helen, I totally agree. It is not only theft from the designer it is fraud to the purchaser. When I buy something handmade, I like to think I am buying something original that has been created from scratch by the person I'm buying from. I would feel completely cheated to discover that it's a poor copy of somebody else's hard work and creativity!

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    1. I agree Angie, it is unfair to those spending hard earned money too on something they believe to be unique...

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  5. Couldn't have said it better. Imitation isn't flattering. It stressful, painful, gut wrenching, anger making, tear producing pants. THAT is what it is.

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    1. That's exactly right. I should have said that!

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  6. You're right on every count Helen, I agree that it's theft - and I find it sad that when tackled about it, these people often become defensive and angry...I guess it's fear that makes them act like that, fear of being sussed out, caught, in trouble etc. I personally believe that every person has their own deep well of creativity that they can tap into, where ideas bubble, where they can begin to discover their very own style. What a pity that some people are too lazy or downright arrogant to take the time to do this, choosing to copy someone else who is successful in their field instead. In the long run, the satisfaction will be short lived, as I'm sure will their attempts at a business that is based on the ideas and designs of another.

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    1. As always Julia, you talk absolute sense. Thank you x

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  7. Completely agree, there is a lot of this going on. I've even seen a blog advocating this type of behaviour!

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    1. Really Clare?! That's awful!!

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  8. I totally agree with everything you have said but copying is rife and from the designer end of the market down to us who hand make lovely things. It doesn't make it right but it happens. Look at all the designer clothes that are then copied and sold on the high street and most people buy them and have no qualms about that and some are copied almost identically. It is very hard to prove something is copied I should imagine especially when some images are used all over the place such as animals or campervans or owls for example and I shouldn't think it would be easy to copyright things like that. If someone uses pictures of your work and passes them off as their own then that is very obvious and a different matter. It's also not flattery copying someone else's work or saying that you could make it because if they could then why don't they go and make their own? It's also annoying when they moan about the cost when they can get it on the high street for £5 etc but they don't consider that you have come up with the idea, sourced fabric, trimmings etc and made the item up and all that adds up to something unique that no-one else has. If someone is trying to set up a business based on copying someone else then it won't last because sooner or later they will have to come up with their own ideas and if they have no imagination then they won't last long.

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    1. Thank you! Copying is rife, and there are a lot of similar ideas out there, I agree. It is hard to find unique ideas in a market filled with enormous creativity, but that's why it's so important to check you aren't ripping anyone off before you start. If I have an idea, I google it as much as I can to see if it has been done before, because I am so worried about copying! And yes, you can find cheaper alternatives on the high street, but those wanting to have something completely unique are happier paying an extra amount to have a one-off. You are right, they won't last long!!

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    2. "If I have an idea I google it as much as I can to see if it has been done before...."

      That's not copying and plagiarism - if YOU have the idea, YOU have the idea. Just because 100+ other people have also had a similar idea, it doesn't mean you can't make YOUR idea. The saying "there are no original ideas" has been around a long time....

      Blatantly copying something exactly after seeing it FIRST, then passing it off as your own it entirely different. Using someone's ideas for inspiration is the entire basis of art. Right back to Monet, the Impressionists and the invention of the camera ending the need for impeccable portraits.

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  9. Reminds me of a quote I heard somewhere... "why be a second rate version of someone else when you can be a first rate version of yourself?!"
    With trends being so... trendy (yes - I am SO down with the kids!) its not surprising we see so many owls/chevrons/jumpers etc. Not copying doesn't mean you have to reinvent the wheel - just that you decorate your wheel in a way that is unique to you :)

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    1. Great quote - I love it! And yes, you are right - and I love the way you've described it - decorating the wheel that is unique to you - fantastic!! Thank you x

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  10. yes yes indeed! I think sometimes it's quite innocent and they don't understand how annoying it is, Ive had comments on my blog about something I've made being a good idea and them having a go at making it.. I think they were even trying to be flattering... but it isn't really :( It takes a lot of work to keep things original but that is the fun of it..creativity and inspiration are wonderful things x

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  11. indeed. I often see pretty things and could so easily do that! but i purpousely don't as it wouldn't be fair on the person that has made/designed that. I may do something similar (i'll admit to not being very original)but i always try very hard to make it different somehow, i'll use the original as a spring board to make someing abit naffer but more me!

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  12. Very well said, I read a very useful blog post recently about protecting your photos which in turn I guess helps protect your work if people are finding you online - http://blog.lyndsey-james.co.uk/category/photography-styling-tips/

    I especially liked the tip on how to find if your photos have been used.

    We all glean our inspiration from things around us but to copy a design is rude and unoriginal, we should be supporting each other as a creative community not stealing from each other x

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  13. Is there anybody who is interested in a table at our school summer fair?its 29th june 1.30-4pm at broadmead lower in stewartby in bedford.if you are interested and want more info on table prices (very good) then please email me hollywillow@gmail.com thank you.xx

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  14. Hi Helen.. just seen this post after having a little look through your blog. i went to an Art and Design employability event yesterday and they talked about IP and Design rights. I've also heard some awful stories, and mainly, being at university, this happens straight from the big boys - john lewis, debenhams, they just come to your degree show and steal your designs. Luckily, in this day and age, you can use your blogposts in a court of law! Which is great really - so keep blogging! :)

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  15. I was quite shocked to see a well known "name" in the quilt world advocating copying a certain design and posting links to everyone but YOU.
    https://www.facebook.com/MarkLipinskisFanPage

    If you scroll down, you will see a very obvious encouragement to copy something you did in a post he "shared". (I have a screenshot too if you need it..)

    Sorry, have no other way to contact you but from your blog. I have a real bugaboo about copyright issue and thought you should know. If i'm out of line in any way, i sincerely apologize and will mind my own business :)

    arlee

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