Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stop Thief !

I am too interested in my own ideas to copy anyone else's.

Margaret Mahy
Plagiarism, stealing someone else's ides or even copying them and claiming ownership is one of the most reptilian practices human beings can engage in. It's fraudulent, disrespectful and those who do it even lack their own self respect. In some cases it's even illegal.

There are those who will infringe upon a copyright and publish something that belongs to someone else. There are those who will see a good idea from a literary, artistic or manufacturing source, make a simple change in it and pass it on as their own idea. But the worst are the moral idiots who simply copy what they see or hear oblivious to the fact that they are stealing. That sort of thing happens in show business all the time and the audience is usually unaware of it.

Many years ago on the Ed Sullivan TV show I watch a comic perform, move by move, Marcel Marceau's "The Mask Maker." That is a very famous act of Marceau's and that guy just lifted it.

I once went to an Off Broadway show that was billed as a new play. It was in fact a total rewrite in modern vernacular of a play by Henrik Ibsen. Nowhere during the evening or even in the program was credit given to the original author.

I have suffered from the actions of these idiots myself. Here are three examples, one of them rather terrifying.

I was doing a comedy in Florida. At the beginning of the second act my character was asleep in a chair. A noise woke him up and getting up he tripped over the footstool. It was a funny piece of business. But one day, while we were still in rehearsal, the young woman in the cast saw me do it and thought she would do the same thing. But she would do it in the first act, before I did it, making my action redundant and no longer funny. The next day the director had cleverly removed the footstool. So I came up with a different action, slipping off the chair and landing with a thump on my butt. Since the actress was wearing a long dress, she couldn't do that.

I was in a drama Off-Broadway. In one scene my character slaps another one in the face very hard. I had him prepare for it by taking my jacket off and hanging it over the back of a chair. It was a very strong moment. But another actor saw me do that and thought he would do it also, but again he did it earlier in the play, so I had to come up with something else. I wrapped my hand in my handkerchief and punched him instead.

As a radio announcer I did two remote broadcasts. They were very difficult, 4 hours on my feet, live, from record stores, with an audience seated watching me. At the end of the first one I went through a list of all the people who had participated from the store and the radio station, including the assistant producer who was in attendance. I thanked everyone and returned the program to the studio. The audience applauded me.

But the assistant producer saw me do that. So at the second remote broadcast he collected everyone's name, said that he wanted to say a few words before I signed off and went through the list thanking everyone and then returned the program to the studio himself, leaving me standing there, then he went "whew" as if he had done all the work. They applauded him.

The next day, back at the studio, one of the other announcers came up to me and said that he had heard the remote the day before and then said "He stole your curtain call." I said "Yes he did." "Why is he still alive?" the other announcer asked. And that is when I invented the statement "They can steal my fish, but they can't steal my ocean."

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Never give up.


Summer is moving along, people.

It's a long, hot, sticky summer, so here's a hot, sticky question for you.

Same sex marriage. Should it be legal or not? If so, why? If not, why not?


19 answers so far.

You have until the last day of summer, but don't dally.
I eagerly await your answer.



pacifica62 said...

Ah yes, the great grey area of "intellectual property". Thievery goes on all the time and many people are none the wiser. We certainly have no way of knowing what other human being(s) might have had the same thought or idea so I guess the right behaviour is not to claim it as one's own. Some people, aware that someone is stealing any kind of intellectual property will sick the high priced lawyers on them. Cease and desist or get sued up the ying yang. Or, pay a royalty to use someone's music or song. Some of this stuff is fairly black and white while other aspects of it are pretty much in the grey area. Other than the obvious, who can say who had the very first thought or idea about something, unless they wrote it down and made it public. I suspect this is a big issue in the creative world today.

Beth said...

I agree completely: utterly deplorable. We've all known kids who have just copied a passage verbatim (maybe changing a word here or there) for a school report. What I find sad is that they are only cheating themselves out of learning.

I find it very satisfying to research a topic, actually understand all the references, and then put it all together in my own words. I know that I've learned.

Fortunately, there are programs out there to help sniff out plagiarism. It's not as easy as it used to be!

In your examples, it sounds like you found a clever way to circumvent the would-be thieves. Nicely done!

Arlene (AJ) said...

Taking from another versus making the effort to do something creative and your own is sad news. What happened to people thinking for theirselves versus copying others....a real waste of their time and mind.

Big Mark 243 said...

That was a great way of handling the situations and an excellent perspective. I used to take someone's aping of my style as a compliment. Being the oldest in my family I am used to being the source of inspiration for others. In the end, it is always dependent on the originator of the idea to make the most of it... Edison may not have had the original idea but he was the one to maximize it. In the end, to the winner goes the spoils...

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Mimicry and copying is one of the highest compliments!