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I always go back and forth on the topic of plagiarism and appropriation. Some artists have egos which make them crave originality. Personally, I've never really had a problem appropriating work for a new context nor with someone else appropriating my work.
but here's a "what if" story...
What if an inventor went to a patent office to claim ownership of an idea for simple flat handheld metal object that had 4 sharp prongs and a small handle to it. And it was intended to be sold as the world's first hair comb. That inventor got his patent, but the product failed to sell.
But then someone else saw the potential of this failure to be a success in a different context. Could this person take the failed attempt at a hair comb and reapply for a patent, this time as the world's first fork?
1) Is this legal?
2) Is this ethical?
3) Is the second person admirable or despicable?
Ever tried eating with a comb? Your question is irrelevant.
Depends if the failed comb was made by Pentagram.
Did the fork dude add another prong and extended the handle a bit to make it his own?
You license the comb and pay royalties for every fork you sell.
Go forth and reproduce
do a duo. half fork, half comb. or as we like to call it, the combo.
Email P Diddy, he has the answers that you are looking for...
I'll humor this...
I did a motion piece that was heavily inspired by stop motion animation I saw as a kid -- what's the difference between being inspired by something you just looked up and something you saw when you were 8? I certainly wasn't the first animator apply a throwback stop motion motif with paper cut outs. But, I suppose it's mostly about the context of these loose parameters you're throwing out there.
In my mind, what separates my piece as a rip from others is:
1 - I never claimed that my approach was was original.
2 - There's many others that have tired the same thing (some good, some bad). And, at a certain point some concepts become public domain and you can only hope be the first to claim credit.
I think there's a fine line. Most of us can't create absolute fire each and every time we need to execute an idea or finish a project. We're all guilty of some lazy inspiration. But, I believe it's up to each designer and their ethics to put some energy forward to make their work personal to themselves (and not be a dick about it).
Nevermind. I'll get my coat.