Inspiration/plagiarism: a fine line
Article for online trends magazine TheTrendNet
Albert Einstein declared: “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”. From this statement we can deduce several things, such as that every creator definitely bases themselves on certain sources. The scientist recommends hiding them. However, in the current context, is this possible?
For the record, we are not making any judgement to that respect, we are simply asking if, in an era marked by a continuos stream of online images, you can hide your own sources? Besides opening the debate on the fine line between inspiration and plagiarism, this reflection would lead us to talk about the issue of royalties, copyright, and SOPA and everything else to do with the legislation on this problematic border. But that would be another topic. What we are dealing with here is the possibility not to quote your sources in the 21st Century. There are those who have dedicated time to demonstrating that it is not feasible to conceal a quotation. They assure us that one thing is ‘inevitable’ influences, and another thing is copying. For example, take a wander round certain blogs analysing the topic with regards to graphic design posters: Rene Wanner’s Poster Page, Similarities flickr page or Extreme Graphic Design Plagiarism, where you can find comparative images that call into question the idea of plagiarism, inspiration, copying, reference and hallmark.
There is also much theory and philosophy on this topic, mainly based on Derrida and his ideas about the non-existence of the original. Everything is a copy, says the deconstructivist philosopher. Film-maker Jim Jarmusch’s statements to this effect are also legendary:
The fact that there is nothing original implies, among other things, accepting Einstein’s statement that opens this post. Yes, everything is a photocopy. Of course some are more precise than others.