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March 15, 2012
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STOP, THIEF!!

Thu Mar 15, 2012, 9:10 PM


(Edit: Over 160,000 people have read this Journal entry already, so don't miss it!)

Ha ha ha, best headline ever.

Good, you opened this journal. Don't worry, no art theft shenanigans have transpired that triggered this entry. I merely want to share my thoughts on "ripping off" and "originality" with you, both as an artist and novelist who's been on the Internet for 12 years.
This is not a rant - it's strictly comical, but also educational. I'm known for my laid-back, funny and matter-of-fact attitude :)

I'll give you a different point of view today, because if there is something I despise more than art theft, it's people accusing others of it. Anti art theft ninjas, also known as: people who have likely not had enough science in school. They often have no compelling evidence. They often have wrong evidence (even worse). They often do it on a whim, a feeling. And they rarely do it silently, rampaging publicly instead, thus driving a witch hunt.

First of all, let me tell you something that any proper writing class tells you right in the beginning: Nothing artistic in this world is original anymore.
Everything has been done in some way. You can whistle a tune to yourself you just make up on the spot, but rest assured that someone has used it in music before. If you actively play the flute or ocarina, or any other easily transportable instrument, you should know this. The ocarina is the oldest instrument of mankind, over 10,000 years old. It typically plays 1 octave, so yes, rest assured any melody conceivable has been played on it before, at least similarly. You take your instrument with you to the park and feel the need to play, so you sit down and play a melody you made up. Quite unexpectedly, someone says what you are playing is this-or-that song or a melody from some classical music piece you never heard of. When you get home you check it out and indeed, there it is - at least very similar. I know so many musicians who write their own music who have experienced this. Did you know? Composers in the 17th century ran into problems because they couldn't think of new melodies/music that hadn't been done before. And that was centuries ago! It's even worse today.

Do you think the popular fiction you love the most is original? What, you think Star Wars (Ahahahaha!!: www.youtube.com/watch?v=--BVUT… ) or Harry Potter are original? Like, the Horcruxes, which are actually just the One Ring, and the One Ring is actually inspired from the Andvarinaut ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andvarin… ). But wait, there are meant to be seven Horcruxes, just as many as the Dragon Balls.
When the Harry Potter franchise became successful, publishers re-released similar, but older books from decades before in hopes of selling them now that the theme was popular again. Raging Harry Potter fans accused these older books of being blatantly ripping off their beloved wizard stories, which are actually so unoriginal that it hurts, once you know a lot of stories. If you know enough, you can see parallels in any story - you see them everywhere! And I promise you, I have such a geeky knowledge of popular media, I see thousands of parallels between any stuff I consume nowadays.

I have developed my own science-fantasy world all my life, as large and rich in detail as the big players out there. I have species, peoples, worlds, customs, even a properly created language you can actually speak. Now, as someone who has done this, let me tell you: It is impossible, and I mean impossible, to do something like this without grazing any and all other stories ever conceived by other people. Not just in ideas, but even words, names and places can be similar - and it is a total coincidence. Like, how is this: In Star Wars, there is a forest moon by the name of Endor. In The Lord of the Rings, Endor is the elvish word for Middle Earth. In my own created language, Endor literally means "Middle Land", which  is exactly what the elvish word means. That's because "En" means middle and "dor" means land in both languages. In elvish, it means "Middle Land" too. Coincidence, I made my version up when I was like seven years old.
Another example from the Lord of the Rings is the name "Isengard". If I had a place called Isengard in my stories (I once had before I knew The Lord of the Rings), a lot of people would say its ripped off. In reality, Isengard is a German surname, and it is middle high German for "Iron Fortress", where the word Isen, which is now spelled Eisen, means Iron.
I could go on like this forever. And it's why I have no problem with things being similar in popular media. I know there is no way not to have similarities, even unbelievable similarities. Also, a rip-off is something born from laziness. Nowadays, people seem to have no concept of "inspiration" as a reason for similarity. If something is similar because it was inspired by something, like the Lord of the Rings by Germanic folk tales, then that's fine. Not everything similar is immediately a rip-off; it may very well just be inspired.

That said, I think the fantasy genre suffers from idea-homeopathy. You know, orcs, elves, MANA. Mana, the worst invention in the long, sad history of bad inventions. When I read "elves" in the title, I want to yell at the author: Come up with your own ideas and something new! Idea-homeopathy. Homeopathy is the practice of creating "medicine" without actual medicine in it. A lot of people buy, believe and take it, but there is nothing in it. Nothing at all.

But back to art theft and why I despise the anti-art theft people. The reason is that many people get pestered by them, especially if you have a wide audience, like me. You have no concept of how much fire I get over nothing, and how much fire I've got over the years. Nowadays, I get one of these people every few days, even on pictures where I clearly state in the description that a reference was used and the reference is even properly linked. Somehow people manage to find the reference (usually the wrong one) on the Internet, but at the same time fail to just read the description.
I've had pictures deleted thanks to people who reported my original paintings, and I had public disputes and public witch hunts to endure, with people banning me from their pages without any compelling evidence whatsoever. At the end of the day, you do not sit next to the artist and you do not know their creation process. If I take the time, I'm fully capable of taking of photograph and making a painting of it so realistic that it's virtually indistinguishable from a photo. I even paint in photographic flaws, such as overexposure and chromatic aberration. Yeah, it's an ability. Let's call it "visual badassery" :D
My visual badassery can be off the charts if I actually want it to be. But then I get people accusing me of manipulating a photo, using the presence of chromatic aberration in the picture as evidence. Some evidence, my friends. Like I said, not enough science in school :).  (See my proof: darksilverflame.deviantart.com… )
Social proof, meaning many people rampaging about the same thing, is not above actual evidence. The court of public opinion is a kangaroo court. General agreement does not protect everyone from being utterly wrong.

I once had a person accusing the sky in a speed painting of mine to be ripped off of something another popular artist had painted, because supposedly only that artist could do that style. You should facepalm right now, mate.  When I proved them wrong by uploading the photo - my own photo - which I had used as reference, there was no apology. It's been my experience that the kind of people who rampage about this, or the people who vote down even the greatest video on youtube, and the people who are generally butt-hurt about everything, are all the very same people. And it's been my experience that, usually, these people are losers who have never achieved anything and have never been a somebody. They let it out on other people as soon as they see an opening for attack - a normal psychological reaction.

I assure you, the number of accusations in any online art community has always exceeded the number of true cases by far. Most of the time, the true cases are done by children who have no idea of copyright and innocently take a picture they like. Everybody else who copies are the losers who want to show off how great they are. They are also the kind of people who write fan fiction, put themselves into the story and are a perfect character without flaws, usually dating one of the main characters (you know who you are).

In conclusion, don't take yourself so seriously. Next time you feel angry, just do...or actually, you can do this as an experiment right now: stand up straight, look up at the ceiling as though there was something interesting there and grin like an idiot, as widely as you can. For added effect, you can also move your upper body and head a little. Now, try to feel depressed. No, don't forget to grin like an idiot! Try again to feel depressed. Or angry. Keep grinning. Doesn't work, does it? It's impossible, because of how the human brain works. Motion creates emotion. You can't do this and feel depressed or angry at the same time. So there you go, your personal instant feel-better technique :)

Stop being butt-hurt, stop being angry, stop being untruthful, stop being unfriendly. Being good and helping people leads to greatness! :aww:

Alright, thought process complete. Now, anybody want some cake?

It's kinda weird looking to end this so abruptly, so I just put a random subliminal message here as a filler:
DarkSilverflame is awesome WOW, YEAH!

Add a Comment:
 
:iconrosebfischer:
rosebfischer Jan 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Hi, so I have finally written up that blog post where I mention this journal. I asked you if I could months ago, but you probably don't remember. The relevant parts are about 2/3 down, after a bunch of informational content about how Creative Commons works. [link]
Reply
:icondarksilverflame:
DarkSilverflame Jan 19, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I do remember; thanks :)
Reply
:iconrosebfischer:
rosebfischer Jan 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome. Thank you again.
Reply
:iconlaroku1:
laroku1 Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
(I don't have to much time right now, so I will make it short) I agree with you, that's why I hate fan fiction (END)
Reply
:iconrhealesia:
rhealesia Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I think for those who are interested, they should look at everythingisaremix.info
There is a 4 part video series there where he explains ideas being reused from music to images to cinema in order to create something new. He also mentions the creative process and how we have to go through this in order to make something new, even in inventions and technology.
Reply
:iconphoenixoflife:
PhoenixofLife Oct 19, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
holy balls I completely know what you mean about nothing being original anymore. Even the new stuff is just a different spin off of separate elements. It's a matter of if the story is well written, interesting, and not a full blown copy. As an author, I have the flaw of writing something, then saying "Damn it, this section is similar to _______" Adventure stories are difficult in that aspect. Ahh..... Nanowrimo starts soon. I've been thinking about this for a while XD
Reply
:icondarksilverflame:
DarkSilverflame Oct 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Being an author myself, I know exactly what you mean :I
Reply
:iconebonsong:
This is so true, yeah. Copyright is to stop people from claiming your actual art, physically, prints or whatnot as their own. Copyright in this case I'm okay with. However, ideas cannot be copyrighted no matter how much people think otherwise. It has all been done before somewhere or some time else.

In a silly way, when I see people complain about ideas being stolen I imagine aliens coming to this world telling humans we've been violating their 'copyright' over hundreds of thousands of years now...for stealing their idea of the wheel - which was -clearly- designed by them 13.6 million years earlier. :S

In this case, invasion is the only logical recourse.^^
Reply
:iconkaihartj:
Kaihartj Sep 28, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Amen to this
Reply
:iconryyathi:
Ryyathi Sep 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I wholeheartedly agree! So refreshing to see a well-written point of view like this.
This is a topic my partner and I have discussed on several occasions; also one I chat about with my fellow art students.
Thank-you!
Reply
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