Copying is always a matter of degree, but should be welcomed in ALL its
degrees short of word for word plagiarism - the ONLY thing that is totally
"unoriginal," and the only thing that can possibly compete with the
original in economic terms - in other words, counterfeiting. Originality,
on the other hand, is NEVER totally original. Not being a literary
authority or critic, I don't know what GWTW might be directly related to -
certainly the southern novel and its particular kinds of angst and
atmospheres in general, but I am unable to get more specific. But copying
is not just a matter of characters, times, and places, it's also about
style, themes, sentence structure, plot flows, concepts, etc.
I doubt if you could find a serious literary authority who thought ANY book
was "totally original," any more than you or I could find a totally
original song in all of music. Listen to the radio, the songs of any genre
all sound pretty much the same to me, not only to each other but to a
myriad of historical songs in that genre as well. Most people who would say
they are against copying actually LIKE music which is obviously copying
formulas thusly. You may say this is not copying if the words, melody, and
chord structures are slightly varied, but I do! The all too familiar
similarities are simply obvious in listening to it all. If anyone ever got
serious about analyzing the structure of the blues, it could ALL be stopped
dead on grounds of habitual copyright infringement. Being limited to
endless combinations of only 12 notes that must "work", music is
undoubtedly the most self-copying art form of all. Yet we love it! Yet we
never tire of it! (Well, I do, but that's just me.)
We evolved from a monkee species. Monkee see, monkee do is no slight
observation. We all expand on what comes to us, not continuously dump it
all and start anew over and over again. What a sure-fire route to
extinction that would be! Copying is absolutely how we got to this
"civilized" state among all the other far less copy prone species around
us. To be ashamed of copying is to be ashamed of all human art and
civilization. EVERY artist I know of in any medium began their attempt to
be one by copying masters who first copied masters to become one
themselves. That copying NEVER disaappears, it just gets more and more
camouflaged with one's growth in "originality" skills. At his height of
"originality," Picasso was, among other things, blatantly copying African
mask art, (other art!) none of which, thank God, was copyrighted.
Ms. Mitchell read plenty of books before writing hers I'm sure, and I'm
also sure there is someonme out there willing to tell you where she's
copying from in terms of developing her style and content. And since this
kind of "influence" copying is inherent in EVERY new work, we have come
around, mostly beginning in the last century, to the business of POINTING
THIS OUT by basing some new works on existing works directly, spinning off
them with their precise details in tow. This allows for all kids of
knowledge, effects, and conclusions NOT availabile to what we generally
call "originality." (ie: less obvious copying.) It represents an extreme
degree of unmistakeable content copying - SO WHAT? It's actually just
another type of attempt to be "new." And then others copy THIS form of
copying as a neat route to something "new," etc.
Originality is what we ADD to our copying as artists and we ALL are copiers
to one degree or another. Once you accept this fact, the degree of copying
is quite beside the point. Yet copyright law has attempted to define legal
art and illegal art precisely on such virtually irrelevant distinctions and
degrees, and in the process implying most dangerously that there is
something wrong with copying per sae. As if it can only be tolerated as
long as it doesn't throw this fact existing within all creativity in our
faces. Who do you think we're kidding? Certainly not artists, which is why
some are now quite unashamed to throw this cultural fact in our faces.
Paul, just for one day, say you are an artist and attempt to make something
new and original, anything at all. If you're honest, you will quickly
realize that every single possible idea you come up with to get started is
based DIRECTLY on somebody else's idea you have previously been exposed to,
impressed with, and which is influencing, if not providing, your creative
vision. This is not the result of your inexperience - it is the result of
your experience! And every single one of us old hands get to our new works
through the very same gates of precedent, some more specifically, some less
specifically. This is as it should be because it is as it is and always has
So new books that do appropriate existing characters, times, and places
from another book, that have decided this is good, not bad, that it's
artistically interesting, not an art crime, that a new work's connections
to its own genre precedents and cultural history is something to expose,
not attempt to hide, should be allowed to do this because it represents the
truth about cultural "influences" cascading down through time, and IT
CAUSES NO HARM. It also just may turn out to be a great read....
"To create is devine, to reproduce is human." - Man Ray
>>Anyone who is under the impression that art,
>>great or otherwise, is entirely about "originality" >obviously hasn't
>>made any themselves.
>I'm wondering, 'cause I don't really know, what is "Gone With the Wind"
>based on? What other book has those same characters, time line, locations,
>etc? If "Gone" is based on another work, and "Done" is based on "Gone",
>then *someone* else should be suing BOTH "Gone/Done". By your argument,
>*all* art is either unoriginal or based on something else. So which is it?
>Has "Gone" copied another book, or *IS IT* totally original?
>songwriter (blatant plagariser coping from many sources of art and not
>ever writing anything original :)
>On Mon, 23 Apr 2001 09:42:21 -0800 Don Joyce <djATwebbnet.com> wrote:
>>You seem to be representing the opposite end of the careless spectrum - art
>>schmart, all it's about is money anyway. You're just so American!
>>The quality of this book is not at all at issue here, (No one can read it
>>to find out now!) but the PRINCIPLE of freedom of expression is. Art DOES
>>exist, and it's always about other art beyond itself - the history of art
>>it directly springs from. Anyone who is under the impression that art,
>>great or otherwise, is entirely about "originality" obviously hasn't made
>>any themselves. Even Edna would tell you that. It cannot escape this
>>linking fate NO MATTER WHAT, and many artists have thus become interested
>>in making such connections out front with no gagged subliminals or pretense
>>otherwise. Did it ever occur to you that linking directly in a comparative
>>way to a previous work could be the whole sustaining point of a new work,
>>without which it WOULD NOT be an interesting work?
>>But it matters not what you think about this because it's not for you to
>>decide, it"s for THEM to decide what way of working is important for them
>>to do. Let artists define art, not economic laws made by accountants,
>>lawyers, and Congress who know just about as much about what makes it
>>actually tick as you apparently do. Freedom of expression is NOT a reality
>>under present copyright restrictions and I'm sorry to see you think that's
>>just fine because....money is all that it's about anyway.
>>>How great would this piece of "art" been had it not had a damn thing to do
>>>with "gone with the wind". Would we even be discussing it? Would we even
>>>care about this piece of "art". I say, let her change all the names of the
>>>characters, the location, the time, the *name* of the book and it's
>>>forgotten!! No One Cares about her damn work of "art". It pisses me off
>>>that a bad marketing ploy gets this much attention. You know what, if she
>>>HAD written a great book (say comparable to "Gone") then people would be
>>>saying--"This book is FANTASTIC, the next best thing to "Gone with the
>>>Wind"--NOT saying, "This is *supposed* to be a great parody of Gone". All
>>>in the name of ART, my ass!! All in the name of marketing if you ask me.
>>>On Sat, 21 Apr 2001 13:05:49 -0800 Don Joyce <djATwebbnet.com> wrote:
>>>>NONSENSE! If you don't like somebody else's treatment based on an existing
>>>>work, if it's bad, WHO THE HELL CARES? Don't read it! Criticize it after
>>>>you read it! It doesn't threaten you, or American culture, or the original
>>>>in any way whatsoever, whether it turns out to rival the original in
>>>>quality or make it look that much better. STOP BEING OFFENDED BY BAD ART
>>>>AND STOP PREVENTING ANYONE FROM TRYING TO MAKE GOOD ART. You'll never know
>>>>which it might be until they are allowed to try. Whether it's a "massacre"
>>>>or an improvement or just an interesting insight into a familiar icon, it
>>>>DOES NOT, CAN NOT, WILL NOT diminish the original on which it is based
>>>>because THAT remains unchanged. ART IS NOT SACRED, ART IS NOT UNTOUCHABLE,
>>>>ART IS NEVER FINISHED, ART IS ALWAYS IN PROGRESS.
>>>>Generally, I am not using caps to yell, only to emphasize, but today I am
>>>>using all these to YELL at you, Bob! Sorry, but this kind of constipated
>>>>preciousness towards "great" art annoys the hell out of me. Healthy art is
>>>>IN CULTURAL PLAY, not out of cultural play, a constant evolution, not a
>>>>series of frozen, untouchable, one-off dead ends created for marketability.
>>>>You (and many aspects of copyright) are advocating a dead, self-blinded
>>>>culture of essentially unusable ideas, safely immune from all future
>>>>rethinking about them or reuse of them. How humanly worthless can we make
>>>>it all? There is no semblance of our ACTUAL LIVES in that. We have stopped
>>>>USING art in any way except for worshipping it as isolated, unique,
>>>>pristine, unapproachable GREATNESS in a vacuum. Does anyone remember that
>>>>that's not how human art was invented and it's not what it was invented
>>>>Grow up, accept the failures art is so prone to, and let it happen the way
>>>>IT wants to. This intolerant and stupid literary censorship is the result
>>>>of letting the legal system DETERMINE the creative process itself for
>>>>artists on threat of fine and imprisonment! It's a disconnected, alienated,
>>>>HORRIBLE way for artists to have to proceed, a way which the
>>>>ART-AS-BUSINESS establishment invented over the last couple centuries for
>>>>purely economic reasons and which bears NO relation to how art always
>>>>worked itself out throughout our entire human history. It's INSANELY self
>>>>destructive to the process to make such copying illegal when copying is
>>>>precisely how all art discovers originality while linking to, learning
>>>>from, and possibly rejecting its own precedents.
>>>>>I'd have to side with the judge on this one. When an author creates a
>>>>>living world and a beloved cast of characters, they should be allowed to
>>>>>determine their fate.
>>>>>I'm a fan of Tolkien, and I'd love to read more stories centered around
>>>>>Middle Earth, but I'd hate to imagine what would happen if anyone could
>>>>>their take on the tale.
>>>>>Besides the integrity of the story, commercial rights for worlds authors
>>>>>create can be a lucrative source of income. Anyone care to make an
>>>>>estimate how much money has been made licensing rights to produce books
>>>>>based on the Star Trek world?
>>>>>It's already bad enough when authors such as A.C. Clarke allow others to
>>>>>write sequels to their works. Anyone who has read some of the later Rama
>>>>>by Gentree Lee would agree here. Imagine what it would be like if anyone
>>>>>could massacre a good piece of work.
>>>>>Showing my geekish reading habits,
>>>>>Bob Wardrop voice: 909.248.6185
>>>>>Online Editor cell: 909.223.1514
>>>>>Inland Empire Online email: bwardropATpe.net
>>>>>Visit our web site: www.InlandEmpireOnline.com
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