By: Lauren Taylor
Plagiarism. It’s one of the first things we’re taught in English class. Repeated offenses will get you kicked out of college faster than having drugs on campus, and yet, school seems to be the only place where people are actively held accountable for not crediting the work of others. Plagiarism is everywhere we look in society. Copyright laws are meaningless to knock off clothing brands who steal designs from expensive clothing lines. Celebrities will make lengthy posts about how they came from nothing and know the struggle, while at the same time posting an amazing photo of them self without even crediting the photographer. In the new age of digital technology stealing of intellectual property is easier than ever. Who would ever know if I take art I find online and sell it on a t-shirt?
It’s a very fine line to walk between inspiration and imitation. Oscar Wilde once said “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness,” but does flattery really matter when someone else is making the profit you need to pay your bills?
My opinion in this article is clear, as it should be. It takes a corrupt soul to defend the theft of the writers, artists, musicians, and designers who weigh the importance of exposure over the chance that this will happen to them. The real conversation starts when we begin to discuss just how far you can go before you cross the line.
Personally, I do not believe I am ripping off artists when mix their music, but some may argue that when I DJ I am stealing the creative work of producers for my own benefit. To me, the difference between myself playing the music of the artists I admire and the act of using someone else’s art on your song artwork is clear. Use what you’re taking as a form of your own artistic expression and credit the artists whenever possible. Obviously it is impractical for a DJ to shout out the name of the artist after every song they play live, but when a mix is uploaded to the internet it should definitely include a tracklist. It’s not stealing when a fan draws their favorite cartoon character in their notebook, but if that same fan attempted to mass produce and sell this drawing on their merch, then it most certainly is.
The evolution of art is driven by inspiration. Many artists on Big Slide are inspired by artists who’ve pioneered our genre, but that doesn’t mean we are stealing their music. New genres, styles, and creative techniques are created by artists who are pushing the boundaries of what has already existed. This is not the same as companies and individuals stealing someone’s work, such as what Freeletics just did to Hudson Mohawke.
Creatives pour their souls into their work, so much so that journalists will research a story for months before it is published to ensure proper credit is given. Rightfully so, these efforts should be rewarded. We at Big Slide are committed to giving every artist, writer, photographer, and musician the credit they deserve. We hope we can inspire all readers to do the same. Crediting our artists is a simple way to repay them for their hard work. So next time you’re selecting your artwork for a SoundCloud upload, or posting a photo you got taken at the club, be sure to give those creators a shoutout. It means more than you know!