points us to an article in Variety where a bunch of movie directors admit that they often look to other movies for ideas to "steal" in making their own movies
. Of course, they don't really mean "steal." They mean that they use the ideas of others for inspiration and to build off of in creating their own films. Yet, these days, when there's been an ongoing push to make people think they can own ideas and concepts, that line between good ("inspiration") and bad ("stealing") seems to keep getting pushed further and further back, for no good reason at all. If people recognized that there's no real line at all, and being inspired by someone else to copy them is actually a great jumping off point for new art, we'd have a lot fewer silly lawsuits. I'm reminded of a passage in James Boyle's The Public Domain
where he quotes Ray Charles on copying other musicians:
I knew back then that Nat Cole was bigger than ever. Whites could relate to him because he dealt with material they understood, and he did so with great feeling. Funny thing, but during all these years I was imitating Nat Cole, I never thought twice about it, never felt bad about copying the cat's licks. To me it was practically a science. I worked at it, I enjoyed it, I was proud of it, and I loved doing it. He was a guy everyone admired, and it just made sense to me, musical and commercial sense, to study his technique. It was something like when a young lawyer--just out of school--respects an older lawyer. He tries to get inside his mind, he studies to see how he writes up all his cases, and he's going to sound a whole lot like the older man--at least till he figures out how to get his own shit together. Today I hear some singers who I think sound like me. Joe Cocker, for instance. Man, I know that cat must sleep with my records. But I don't mind. I'm flattered; I understand. After all, I did the same thing.
Yet, these days, if you sound too much like someone else, you get sued