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View Full Version : Inspiration or Plagiarism: Borrowing Ideas or Stealing Ideas



sequoia
01-03-2015, 06:19 PM
I'm a big admirer of Pete Howlett's ukuleles. Recently he posted a picture of one of his creations. I was especially taken by the "two tone" peghead design and "borrowed" this idea and incorporated it into one of my own designs. I was reading about a volcanic eruption in Hawaii and thought that would be a cool thing to try and incorporate into a peghead. The idea was to do flaming lava with a walnut burl and flamed maple.

I prefer to think that I was inspired by Pete's design rather than "stealing" it. Now it must be said that I do not sell my ukuleles and only build for my own pleasure and have absolutely no interest in making money.

I will try and post a picture of Pete's instrument and then my design. Did I cross the line? Is this inspiration or a copy? Anyway, thanks Pete for giving me the inspiration. Please take it as flattery and not a rip-off.

DPO
01-03-2015, 06:28 PM
For what it' s worth, I think that is inspiration rather than a knock off. It is a bit like headstock shapes, very few if any are original, most are derived from other shapes. I think the only unique headstock shape I have seen is Chuck Moores, now whether that is totally original, or is some way derived from some other shape I don't know, nor do I think it matters that much.

Brian1
01-03-2015, 06:37 PM
I am not in complete agreement with Pete about this issue. IMO you have done no wrong. HOWEVER it might have been a good idea to send him an e-mail and ask. Explain that you don't intend to sell it and that you admire his work etc... And if he says "please don't" and you do, I wouldn't put pictures of it on the internet. :)

Edit: If however you were selling these ukuleles, I would think it might be unethical.

DPO
01-03-2015, 06:49 PM
I am not in complete agreement with Pete about this issue. IMO you have done no wrong. HOWEVER it might have been a good idea to send him an e-mail and ask. Explain that you don't intend to sell it and that you admire his work etc... And if he says "please don't" and you do, I wouldn't put pictures of it on the internet. :)

Edit: If however you were selling these ukuleles, I would think it might be unethical.

If that is/was the case, we may as well all give up.

Brian1
01-03-2015, 07:00 PM
If that is/was the case, we may as well all give up.

If which was the case ? That it might be unethical ? or that he has done no wrong ?

Jim Hanks
01-03-2015, 07:02 PM
I'm with Dennis. This is not enough of a copy to cause concern whether or not the uke was for sale. I'm not a builder but as a musician I often take snippets of chord progressions or tweak a melody line for use in "my" song. As long as I give proper credit and try to bring something of my own to the table, I consider this inspiration and not stealing.

DPO
01-03-2015, 07:13 PM
If which was the case ? That it might be unethical ? or that he has done no wrong ?
If the scenario, as you described it happened, then we may as well give up.

Brian1
01-03-2015, 07:21 PM
If the scenario, as you described it happened, then we may as well give up.

GIve up for what reason ? I still don't understand your post. Would you :

A) give up because it was too difficult to come up with original designs.

B) Not continue to make ukuleles because your designs are not protected ?

C) Wouldn't be worth it if you had to send Pete an e-mail.


I'm with Dennis. This is not enough of a copy to cause concern whether or not the uke was for sale. I'm not a builder but as a musician I often take snippets of chord progressions or tweak a melody line for use in "my" song. As long as I give proper credit and try to bring something of my own to the table, I consider this inspiration and not stealing.

It is a strange world out there: Restaurants can't sing happy birthday to their customers anymore, but the group you come to table with can. You can also copyright a melody and lyrics but not a chord progression. I don't see building a uke at home for your own use as more unethical than singing in the shower.

A musician wouldn't think about recording someones song and selling it. And even if it is only similar George Harrison got sued over "my sweet lord" for being too close to "my guy".

Edit: Not my guy it was "He's So Fine"

After reconvening in September 1976, the court found that Harrison had "subconsciously" copied the earlier tune, since he admitted to having been aware of the Chiffons' recording.[101] Judge Richard Owen said in his conclusion to the proceedings:[102]

Did Harrison deliberately use the music of He's So Fine? I do not believe he did so deliberately. Nevertheless, it is clear that My Sweet Lord is the very same song as He's So Fine with different words, and Harrison had access to He's So Fine. This is, under the law, infringement of copyright, and is no less so even though subconsciously accomplished.

Jim Yates
01-03-2015, 07:23 PM
I'm with Dennis. This is not enough of a copy to cause concern whether or not the uke was for sale. I'm not a builder but as a musician I often take snippets of chord progressions or tweak a melody line for use in "my" song. As long as I give proper credit and try to bring something of my own to the table, I consider this inspiration and not stealing.

Jim, a chord progression is not copyrightable. Many songs have the same chord progressions or partial chord progressions.

Please Don't Talk About Me and Five Foot Two are exactly the same.

So are They're Red Hot, Bring It On Home, Alice's Restaurant, John Hartford's Boogie and, except for the bridge, Jada

Hundreds of songs have been written with a 12 bar blues or I vi IV V progression.

consitter
01-03-2015, 07:50 PM
http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-basic/popcorn.gif (http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php)

Pete Howlett
01-03-2015, 08:15 PM
If you copied my logo it would be theft. This is not a copy. Glad I inspired you. Did you use the reverse trick to get a lineless match?

sequoia
01-03-2015, 08:23 PM
Thanks Pete. I'm much relieved... Not sure what the reverse trick is. It is just laminate over laminate. I thought hard about putting in a thin line to true up the line but left it rough. Sort of like what lava would look like.

Hippie Dribble
01-03-2015, 08:24 PM
In my opinion this is both inspired and beautiful. Lovely work brother.

Brian1
01-03-2015, 08:41 PM
If you copied my logo it would be theft. This is not a copy. Glad I inspired you. Did you use the reverse trick to get a lineless match?


In the US it has been ruled by the courts that copying someone's post like I did above was an infringement of copyright or what Pete calls "theft". That has since been reversed.

A person holds a copyright on everything they right or put to paper. And above I just copied what Pete wrote. However "damages" can only be collected on "registered copyrights". Damages are assessed by how much money the "theif" makes off of the sale of an item or how much money Pete looses because someone made a copy.

In other words if you copy someones unregistered works and do not profit from it or if the creator can't prove he lost money because of it, they get the right to wag their finger at you and call you a thief.

It is unethical to take away from someone else. There is nothing taken away when you don't profit from the creation.

Strange as it may be copyright on a photograph of one of Petes ukuleles is copyright of the photographer.

DPO
01-03-2015, 08:57 PM
1
In the US it has been ruled by the courts that copying someone's post like I did above was an infringement of copyright or what Pete calls "theft". That has since been reversed.

A person holds a copyright on everything they right or put to paper. And above I just copied what Pete wrote. However "damages" can only be collected on "registered copyrights". Damages are assessed by how much money the "theif" makes off of the sale of an item or how much money Pete looses because someone made a copy.

In other words if you copy someones unregistered works and do not profit from it or if the creator can't prove he lost money because of it, they get the right to wag their finger at you and call you a thief.

It is unethical to take away from someone else. There is nothing taken away when you don't profit from the creation.

Strange as it may be copyright on a photograph of one of Petes ukuleles is copyright of the photographer.

Yes. But their are many variables depending where in the global village one resides. In my village if Pete contracted me to photograph his ukes then he not the photographer, owns the copyright. As far as Petes "theft" scenario, it would be a very expensive legal minefield to prove either way. What if someone in the Amazon jungle happened quite by chance to come up with the same design. Then what?

Pete Howlett
01-03-2015, 09:05 PM
You have a pretty unique and if I may say amoral view Brian. There is a right and a wrong way to do things and most people know what it is. Your personal use argument is morally weak and although it may stand up in court it does not make it right. Unfortunately common sense and decency needs to be legislated because society has lost its moral compass. In my profession there is an understanding that you simply don't pass another'a work off as your own regardless of whether you sell your stuff or not. If you do want to copy you then get permission. If you publish your copied work you acknowledge the source. I hope my position is now unequivocal...

Brian1
01-03-2015, 09:07 PM
Well, I think New Zealand like the US have the same international copyright laws. In the US you have to contract away your of copyright. But when you look at the quote from the George Harrison case the judge mentioned that Harrison was aware and had access to "he's so fine" and unknowingly violated copyright. THat implies that you must have access to something. But My understanding from lawyers I have dealt with on copyright cases (I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice) even someone unaware of violation can be in violation.

The important part to remember is that someone in the jungle would not be causing damages, and is probably not governed by copyright laws. If however the role was reversed and I drew a picture that was later seen on a cave wall I would be less likely to collect damages after its discovery.

Brian1
01-03-2015, 09:10 PM
You have a pretty unique and if I may say amoral view Brian. There is a right and a wrong way to do things and most people know what it is. Your personal use argument is morally weak and although it may stand up in court it does not make it right. Unfortunately common sense and decency needs to be legislated because society has lost its moral compass. In my profession there is an understanding that you simply don't pass another'a work off as your own regardless of whether you sell your stuff or not. If you do want to copy you then get permission. If you publish your copied work you acknowledge the source. I hope my position is now unequivocal...

Pete, I have never said anything about passing someones else's work off as their own. And a person who makes a uke for his own use is not passing it off as his own, he is the only person who knows or cares who came up with the design. YOUR argument is weak sir.

consitter
01-03-2015, 11:56 PM
http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-basic/poke.gif (http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php)

DownUpDave
01-04-2015, 12:10 AM
http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-basic/poke.gif (http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php)


................:agree:...............:deadhorse:

Brian1
01-04-2015, 05:03 AM
http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-basic/poke.gif (http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php)

................:agree:...............:deadhorse:

Do the two of you have words to place with your argument or is your response simply pavlovian ?

Nickie
01-04-2015, 04:20 PM
Seems like a good time to close this thread.....I wish you people would behave yourselves....
Mr. Howlett may not always be right, but he is the pro here....I'll heed his words....anyone here not a builder or attorney....should mind his own biz....IMHO.
The childish bickering and the need to "always be right" or have the last word is souring me on this forum.

OregonJim
01-04-2015, 04:31 PM
anyone here not a builder or attorney....should mind his own biz....

Wow. Profiling and censorship on a public, international forum. Anyone think that'll fly?

Inksplosive AL
01-04-2015, 05:10 PM
Seems like a good time to close this thread.....I wish you people would behave yourselves....

Whats killing the calm feeling here for me are all the tenderhearted self appointed hall monitors running around playing judge.


anyone here not a builder or attorney....should mind his own biz....

Which are you? If neither, oh the irony.


Mr. Howlett may not always be right, but he is the pro here....I'll heed his words....anyone here not a builder or attorney....should mind his own biz....IMHO.

This is called "Argument from authority" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority).


The childish bickering and the need to "always be right" or have the last word is souring me on this forum.

I see adults communicating thoughts and ideas in a mostly friendly manner? What did you bring to this thread other than judgement?

I'm an old pro tattoo artist and I have often taken logos line for line and inked them to flesh so I'm interested. I see the new breed of artist cry foul when a design of theirs is redone yet its AOK to ink looneytoons characters all day long. Its laughable really all of this. This isn't much different keeping in mind Pete's "10 things to know" I see it as it is AOK for Pete to gank another companies design (until the cease and desist letter) but gank something that matters to him and its now different.

Laws are always great until you find yourself on the wrong side of them eh?

~AL~oha~

sukie
01-04-2015, 05:13 PM
http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-basic/popcorn.gif (http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php)

Nice emoticon. (Is that the correct word?)

Chris_H
01-04-2015, 06:23 PM
As a lifelong artist, I know when the ideas that inspire my work are solely my own, influenced by the work of another, or somewhat of a copy of another's work. For the most part, it does not 'feed me' to copy other people's work. In some instances, the process can be a valuable learning experience. When copying other's work, directly, for commercial gain, feathers are likely to get ruffled, at least. (!!!) And in many cases, rightfully so.

Also, there is a fine line, sometimes, where copying something is not necessarily copying directly the work of the last person to have done the piece, but the evolution of the result of multiple generations of 'copying'. It is somewhat difficult to be absolutely, purely original.

Over the years I have seen so many people get their panties all in a bunch because of feeling like someone copied their work too closely. My opinion, unless you registered your work, get over it, keep creating. keep moving into the fresh. Or, maybe submerge their dog in pink dye. (kidding!) Rarely does someone copy something exactly, to the micron, and often, fresh nuance is born. In the social evolution of humans, if there were no copying whatsoever, of other peoples ideas, our world would be a vastly different place, not nearly as 'good'. So many great things are the result of the continual refinements that happen from an idea being re-hashed numerous times.

Yes, people have copied my work way too closely for my comfort, for commercial gain.

To those who have experienced grief because their ideas have been copied...... Did you register your work with the Library of Congress? it is easy, fast, and inexpensive. If not, get over it. Copying happens, right or wrong. Neither of those matter, really, except in the hearts of individuals. Copying for monetary gain is also a commonly practiced business model, if somewhat on the edge of acceptable or not depending on who is ask. It is how things are done, like it or not. This thread is about a subject that will absolutely not be resolved here. I remember well, the foul taste left when I saw my own work copied. If you register your work with the Library of Congress, and you are bothered by the infringement of your own registered copyright by someone else, sue their asses off. Or not. Registering is easy. If you really care, and your instruments are really valuable, chalk up another $25 per instrument if you only want to register them one at a time, and about 15 minutes of time per jpeg upload to register, then you are covered.

In recent years, copyright laws have moved more and more consistently away from the rights of the artist. If you are an artist and do not follow the legal framework for protecting your art, when it is copied you will have zero recourse other than maybe to deliver a successful 'cease and desist'', in addition to silently allowing the rights to copyrighted works by artists to be taken away, mainly by people with deeper pockets, for financial gain. If you care about your art, protect it. When one releases an idea into the market that is not legally trademarked, patented, or registered, it will be copied.


Copying happens.

Bottom line.. is it registered?? if not.. well... why not?????????????????????? Register it!!!!! In the case of an instrument inlay, or any other aspect of an instrument build that is truly unique, I believe that there is an allowed 'window' of 30 (ish) days from the time of 'publish', to the time of register. ( maybe 60? I forget) And, registering is easy. If work is not registered, arguments against copying are not far from the home owner who's house burned down, uninsured. Why was it not insured? If it was by choice, own it.

This comment is in no means meant as a disrespect to anyone. It is based on my experience in watching this sort of conflict unfold over and over again among artist friends throughout my life, and also, from learning a little about copyright law in my study of photography, but mostly from the deep reflection on this subject that has happened over the years of experiencing it from various different angles.



The other alternative is to hide your work from the prying eyes of the world.....

DPO
01-04-2015, 06:36 PM
Seems like a good time to close this thread.....I wish you people would behave yourselves....

Well Nickie, luckily for us you don't get to choose which threads get closed. And who is "you people"?

Mr. Howlett may not always be right, but he is the pro here....I'll heed his words....anyone here not a builder or attorney....should mind his own biz....IMHO.

Pete prefers Pete, unless you are his bank manager? Yes Pete is a pro, but not THE pro and many here, myself included, heed some of his words. But they are not written in stone nor are they delivered from the Mount. Being a builder or god forbid a lawyer is not a prerequisite to contribute to these fora, so if it's ok with you us "people" will just continue having healthy debates about subjects that we find interesting. Long may it continue.




The childish bickering and the need to "always be right" or have the last word is souring me on this forum.

All part of life online Nickie.

sequoia
01-04-2015, 07:37 PM
The other alternative is to hide your work from the prying eyes of the world.....

I thought long and hard about starting this thread. My intention was to give credit where credit is due in a public forum. Pete Howlett inspired me by his design to create something I thought was beautiful and yes, original. All this talk about copyright infringement and so on I think misses the point that I wanted to make. The point being that we all are inspired by what others can do and we should acknowledge that inspiration by thanking them.

Yukon Cornelius
01-04-2015, 07:47 PM
I thought long and hard about starting this thread. My intention was to give credit where credit is due in a public forum. Pete Howlett inspired me by his design to create something I thought was beautiful and yes, original. All this talk about copyright infringement and so on I think misses the point that I wanted to make. The point being that we all are inspired by what others can do and we should acknowledge that inspiration by thanking them.

The designs are similar yet totally different. Pete gave his approval. So the rest of us should stop with the arm chair lawyering and attempts to shut the thread down.
The OP's design looks like a wave and Pete's design looks like a mountain.

Chris_H
01-04-2015, 07:53 PM
I think there are many instances where copying happens in the world, and for various reasons, no one ends up hurt, or upset, and no one makes any money of the copying effort. In the framework of the teacher, the student copies the teacher in most instances. After form, and technique is learned by the student, then it can be transmuted into the next stage. As a teacher, it is a gift to see a student take your instruction, and to move beyond. Of course, a commercial rip-off is total different, and then there is everything in between.

DownUpDave
01-05-2015, 03:30 AM
Do the two of you have words to place with your argument or is your response simply pavlovian ?

I think you have more than enough words for all three of us.

strumsilly
01-05-2015, 04:46 AM
Do the two of you have words to place with your argument or is your response simply pavlovian ?
if a picture is worth a thousand words, they are way ahead.

Brian1
01-05-2015, 06:42 AM
I think you have more than enough words for all three of us.

Well I am puzzled by the way you responded to me in response to a post where :

* I was told I was amoral
* I was dismissed without merit
*Told that my referenced argument was weak while the opposing one was simply emotional and gave no reasoning.
* Although copyright laws were used in defense of the opposing argument earlier in the week now the same person feels they are irrelevant
* My words were misrepresented to imply that I believe it is morally just to claim credit for something that was created by another person (something I never implied)
* Then victory was claimed over an argument I didn't make.

But I am sorry if I overreacted with the way I responded to you thumbing your nose at my situation. My intention was not for others to start a second thread arguing that I should be banned for stating my opinion on a topic presented for discussion. My intention was to compare what was mentioned in the OP to what each one of us does when we play popular melodies or sing lyrics in the privacy of our own homes, while at the same time make it clear that I believed it is not right to profit from the work of someone else. (thats all)

*And to avoid offending some and at risk of offending others, I thought the tattoo comparison was brilliant. Even as third party who profits form the personal expression of a fan, it is a work for hire and I don't feel it violates the efforts of anyone. (IMO)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-05-2015, 06:45 AM
Welcome to the Luthier's Lounge. Enter at your own risk! Haha.

itsme
01-05-2015, 08:06 AM
It is unethical to take away from someone else. There is nothing taken away when you don't profit from the creation.
I think performing rights groups like ASCAP and BMI would disagree with you. Just look at all the broohaha over people posting cover songs on youtube.

As for George Harrison, I ran across this article recently.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-grant/the-biggest-reason-we-ste_b_6393346.html


The psychologist Dan Gilbert calls this kleptomnesia: generating an idea that you believe is novel, but in fact was created by someone else. It's accidental plagiarism, and it's all too common in creative work.

DownUpDave
01-05-2015, 08:31 AM
Welcome to the Luthier's Lounge. Enter at your own risk! Haha.

Good advice Chuck. This is only my third comment in the "Lounge" since joining. I prefer to read and learn from this section as I have nothing credible to offer when it comes to lutherie. Mama always said "You don't learn anything from talking, only listening"

Brian1: If I somehow offended you with :deadhorse: then I apologize. Pete had given his full blessing so a " dead horse" was being beaten with further conversation. Please do not respond to this, just silently accept my apology if your feelings were hurt.

Inksplosive AL
01-06-2015, 08:28 AM
*And to avoid offending some and at risk of offending others, I thought the tattoo comparison was brilliant. Even as third party who profits form the personal expression of a fan, it is a work for hire and I don't feel it violates the efforts of anyone. (IMO)

*Sees Brian's nod across the smokey room raises glass and nods back*

~AL~

mvinsel
01-08-2015, 02:53 PM
I've been working on a uke chord melody version of "Time on my Hands", the theme song of the choir at San Quentin.
Somehow this thread made me think of that.
:cheers:
-Vinnie in Juneau