Everyday, we read yet another
story about plagiarism and interpolation and copyright infringement.
and brands and labels are suing artists for supposedly stealing their
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
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.
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.
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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