Re:[rumori] Cheatahs? (literature, lifting and the law)

Steev (
Fri, 9 Jul 1999 17:57:54 +0000 ( )

On Fri, 9 Jul 1999, kristie wrote:

>sometimes it is & sometimes it isn't. hence the debate over the italian
>woman and her novel "lo's story" (i think this is the title) which retells

This sounds great. is it in print yet?

>2. borrowing the plot an author creates. this is a source of litigation in
>the playwriting and screenwriting arenas, isn't it? there is at least
>enormous controversy ie tarantino (as writer/director) lifting the end of
>reservoir dogs from a hong kong film: homage or theft?

another great example, though there is no risk of legal trouble, is
Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead", a retelling of the
Hamlet story from the point of view of Hamlet's treacherous pals. Of
course there's no copyright on Shakespeare's work, and besides,
Shakespeare nipped the plot from an italian play. but this is just
an excellent instance - if writers are discouraged from other
projects like these for fear of legal trouble, we're all missing out.

>documenting my sources, i am fiendish about it. in doing so i strive to
>make evident that intertextuality (the idea that all/most/lots of
>literature is inextricably linked as a constantly inter-referential body of
>work/ideas) IS. to make my work a sort of silent collaboration with the
>original authors. to create a community of ideas within my pieces. to show

that's a great way to put it!

>in the work how the ideas came to my head, to present the food/spark which
>got me there. somehow this is more ok for a writer than a musician. it is
>supposed that we are working with ideas (which are shared), and that y'all
>are working with "sound" (which can be owned). as if language wasn't a
>sound, and music can't be written. ?!

well, even a written note is much different than a word, in terms of
meaning. but that's beside the point. i agree with you. things are almost
backwards. It seems as if what the lawyers priorities are is to protect
specific instances of ideas, rather than the ideas themselves. With
words, as with recorded music, the ability, the technology, to exactly
replicate a specific execution of an idea (a book, a record) has resulted
in attempts at protecting that replication. And digital technology, which
just makes EXACT replication that much easier, has exacerbated things.

>tangent 1. interestingly, this sharing of ideas thing is different in the
>realm of science. in a realm when there are enormous grants & nobels & such
>at stake, and the idea is the entire product being created, it is necessary
>for a scientist to give credit to every idea that she was offered by
>someone who she bounced her work off of. this is why collaboration among
>different teams of scientists is so lauded in the press, ie the human
>genome project. it is the exception to the rule.

this relates to the Open Source Software phenomenon. Software companies
are learning that it is good computer science, and good business, to
develop software by sharing ideas.

>tangent 3. also, there is the issue of plays as text/language/act. samuel
>becket will not grant performance rights to anyone who wants to change a
>SINGLE WORD of one of his plays in the act of presentation. they pulled
>rights not too long ago from a group which had kept the words, but reversed
>the gender of all the characters. sad, as this reversal seemed very

hmm, I once saw a production of "Waiting for Godot" with an all-female
cast. I wonder if that was done "underground".

kristie, thanx for bringing in the writer's perspective. It's definitely
good to consider these issues from all angles. Don't be shy just because
it seems like most of us are audio types. Everyone always has a lot to
learn from other fields and media....


Steev Hise, Would-be World-Wide Web Wizard (WWWWW)
recycled art site:
"We work at 'service' or info-related jobs, helping in our little
way to move disembodied symbols of wealth around an abstract grid
of capital."
                -Hakim Bey

Rumori, the Discussion List
to unsubscribe, send mail to
with "unsubscribe rumori" in the message body.
Rumori list archives & other information are at

Home | Detrivores | Rhizome | Archive | Projects | Contact | Help | Text Index

[an error occurred while processing this directive] N© Sharerights extended to all.