Monday, May 24, 2010

Artistic Integrity

No, I'm not talking about selling out, giving up your dreams in pursuit of an extra dollar. This post is about another kind of artistic integrity. The kind of integrity that keeps legitimate writers from committing plagiarism. Just last night, a web-comic artist named Tim Buckley wrote an honest, straightforward apology for not giving credit to another artist who inspired him. Read the post to see what I'm talking about... read it yet? Okay, good.

From what I read (and this is my interpretation of the words he used based on context and how hard he tries to give EVERYONE their due credit), it sounds like this was completely unintentional, and he's doing everything he can to rectify the situation without being called out by anyone. The language he used implies that he realized the mistake without it getting pointed out to him (and while this may not be accurate, it helps my point).

With the internet, it's a lot harder for dishonest people to get away with plagiarism, but it's also a lot easier for honest artists to get CHARGED with the same crime. (Yes, many of us who work hard to create an entertaining story, a beautiful painting, or a moving song consider plagiarism to be a severe crime. And as stated on Studio 60, accusing me of that crime would be as bad as accusing me of pedophilia.) I don't have much advice on how to avoid getting charged with plagiarism, except, don't do it. I learned in school that, as a writer, you MUST give credit where credit is due. Whenever I create a new species, character, or company in my books, I make sure that they don't show up on an internet search. In fantasy settings, many creatures are trademarked by specific companies, and using them violates copyright law just as much as trying to profit off of Harry Potter fan fiction.

If we ever get famous, someone's GOING to charge us with copying their work. That's just the way it is. Some lazy, lying person who wants their payday will find a way to sue simply because you're famous and they're not. But if you conduct yourself openly, always give credit where it's due, and ALWAYS do research, the likelihood of actually being guilty, or even being found guilty in a courtroom, is very slim.

Props to Tim for his honesty!

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