Is Ripping Off Someone’s Idea a Copyright Violation? Where Do You Stand on Idea Appropriation?
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery-celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from-it’s where you take them to.”
There’s a big debate going on today regarding the latest music video by Director Keith Schofield (above), Charlotte Gainsbourg’s “Heaven Can Wait” (featuring Beck). The video would seem to clearly rip off and steal ideas from amateur photographers including Flickr user William Hundley. The video above, for instance, features a skateboard sitting on four cheeseburgers, looking almost identical to a similar popular photograph which had been published previously by Hundley on Flickr.
I’m not a lawyer and personally don’t know enough about copyright law to know if Schofield has any legal liability over this theft or not. The image is not the same, clearly, but it would be inconceivable to me that Schofield could have thought up the idea without first viewing Hundley’s original photograph. But is idea appropriation an actual crime? Is there technically any liability? I have no idea, but it’s an interesting debate and maybe someone who knows the law better than I do could chime in.