Everyday, we read yet another story about plagiarism and interpolation and copyright infringement.
Companies and brands and labels are suing artists for supposedly stealing their intellectual property.
And while I respect the need to protect one’s creative work, the reality is, most people are not malicious thieving bastards. They’re just human. It’s part and parcel of the creative process.
We can’t help but be influenced by the art we surround ourselves by. It’s the primary fuel for our own endeavors.
I’ve written hundreds of songs in my career, and each one is a musical bouillabaisse of whatever music I was listening to at the time.
I’ve written dozens of books in my career, and each one is a composite of whatever writers I was reading at the time.
There’s no way around it.
I’m reminded of a fascinating theory posed by a paleontologist, who also serves at the vice president of a nature and science museum. Sampson calls it the law of interdependent origination, which explains:
Life's unfolding is a tapestry in which every new thread is contingent upon the nature, timing, and interweaving of virtually all previous threads, and it can’t help by create a deeper incorporation of the connections inherent in the web of life.
Meaning, everything is made of everything. Everybody steals from everybody. Artists can’t help but be at least a little derivative.
The real question is:
Is your work interesting enough that people are stealing from you?
That’s the hallmark of genius.
Hendrix was plagiarized so much, other guitarists copied his mistakes.
What a compliment. Sure beats obscurity.
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