Kirby Ferguson: Creating is Stealing

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

You've probably heard the American tune, "This Land is Your Land." What you probably haven't heard is "When the World's on Fire," the song whose melody Woody Guthrie stole to write his patriotic ode. 

Now think about the last time you did something creative. Did you have help? If the answer is no…the answer is still yes.

That’s according to Kirby Ferguson, a filmmaker and creator of the four-part video series, “Everything is a Remix.” In the series, Ferguson takes viewers through a long history of artistic borrowing in film, from scenes ripped off by Star Wars to countless homages paid by Quentin Tarantino in the Kill Bill series. He's also bent on outing melody thieves like Led Zeppelin, who shamelessly took hooks and lyrics from their blues predecessors.

And it’s not just in music and movies that artists steal from other artists. It’s already happened in design during the war of smartphones. What did Apple steal from Samsung and what did Samsung steal from Apple? If we’re ever going to stop clogging up our legal pipes with endless patent lawsuits, Ferguson says we have to accept the ugly truth that creativity is stealing. 


Kirby Ferguson

Produced by:

Joe Hernandez

Comments [3]

Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

There is a difference between being influenced by and ripping someone off creatively... Only a judge sitting between two lawyers can decide... A lot depends on how good your lawyer is... Hopefully, your lawyer ripped off Clarence Darrow and not William Jennings Bryan

Aug. 15 2012 12:05 PM
Matthew from Nashville

It wasn't Picasso; it was T.S. Eliot: "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal". Read his essay on this very subject, "Tradition and the Individual Talent". Ecclesiastes pointed out, some 3000 years ago, that there was nothing new under the sun.

In addition, THE NEW YORK TIMES pointed out the vast hommages of STAR WARS about thirty years ago, stating that the movie should really be called GENRE WARS.

Finally, the philosopher R.G. Collingwood stated that artists should ignore copyright, that instead of complaining that one writer's work isn't good enough, a writer should make it better: "Let all such artists as understand one another, therefore, plagiarize each other's work like men. Let each borrow his friends' best ideas, and try to improve on them. If A thinks himself a better poet than B, let him stop hinting it in the pages of an essay; let him re-write B's poems and publish his own improved version."

Aug. 15 2012 09:57 AM
Bob Ragland from Denver, Colorado

I often tell artists who,think they are so original, until they can prove
they made the first petroglyph or cave drawing they ain't that original.
Bob Ragland-NONstarving artist -Denver Colorado.

Aug. 15 2012 08:07 AM

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