Has this happened to you?
You read something cool, watched a cool movie, or played a cool game. The way things were designed, perhaps the look of a spaceship in a game, the way the story flowed in a book, or how the characters acted in the movie, somehow, you really like how they did it. You smile as you take in their brilliant idea, and it is logged away in the back of your brain somewhere. Perhaps under the ‘creative’ section. As time progresses, you fill up this section with the ideas you have accumulated. It becomes enriched with other’s ideas.
Now the time comes when you sit down to create, let’s take the example of a drawing. You decide you want to sketch, say, a really cool spaceship. Under the creative part of your brain, your mind finds all manner of lovely ideas. It takes various collections from spaceships you saw in a video game, or on the TV, and pictures you saw in a book, and translates that onto your paper. As you put the finishing touches on your spaceship sketch, you pause. You look down and say, “Hey, that looks like the spaceship from…”. Yes, your brain has recycled knowledge from other people’s creativity, and, due to it’s lazy nature, spewed those same ideas onto the page. Perhaps it is slightly different, as you engaged your mind a little. Are you annoyed? Yes, you want something all of your own. So you crumple up your drawing, and toss it in the trash, staring at the next sheet of blank paper. Your mind goes back to the creativity part and comes back across the same items. You try to think outside the box, but every time you do, your mind is hooked back up to the same connections, and the next spaceship you draw looks like one you plagiarized as well!
There goes the next piece of paper, into the waste bin.
So, how did I do, did I give a good example?
I think Andrew Price touched on this in one of his blog posts, taking ideas from what you have seen in the past.
Where do we draw the line? There are so many ideas out there. At what point does our creativity become plagiarism? Is it when the cool spaceship we drew look so like the one we saw in a game that releasing the drawing may infringe copyright laws? Or is it simply at the point where it doesn’t look like something of our own?
What are your opinions?
I think that we should give credit when we use other people’s work, at certain times. Let’s use the spaceship example again. Let’s say that a ship from a movie had a special piece of equipment that looked cool, but had a very specific look. If I put it on my spaceship, it would probably be good to reference where I got it. I guess there’s a lot you can copy from something else without getting in trouble. Let’s take a game that some of you may have heard of (maybe even played) called LEGO Universe. From what I’ve seen, I guess there was a ‘beam of imagination’ and you saw it as a beam that went from the ground into outer space, sort of like a laser. Does that sound familiar? I think they used this same type of thing in Tron. A beam that goes from the ground out to somewhere. Now, what happened here? Were the designers of the game subliminally inspired by Tron to put it in their game? I think it was Disney who made Tron, so for a moment, think about it, LEGO, and Disney, two big companies, and LEGO got away with putting it in their game it seems. Now I could be wrong, maybe the designers of the game put it in without thinking of the movie at all… Do you think it’s ok to copy stuff as long as we won’t get a lawsuit for it? When it comes to other things, using someone else’s plot for your story, copying someone’s style in the way you blog, replicating a certain type of shot for your movie, where is the line between plagiarism and inspiration?
At a certain point, is making something you were ‘inspired’ to make considered taking credit for someone else’s work?
Please, post your thoughts on this subject below. 🙂