Monday, March 06, 2006

The imitation game

The Dan Brown case sees the collision of two contradictory tendencies in modern culture. On the one hand, more and more ideas are owned, sold, and protected; but at the same time, more and more of what is on sale has been copied with very small variations from other things also on sale.
In The Guardian, Andrew Brown argues that too much copyright is a bad thing.
The real threat to creativity doesn't come from too much copying, but too little. Nothing can be learned except by imitation, and it's hard to imagine any worthwhile writer who did not start off imitating others.
Comment: many writers will have mixed feelings about the Dan Brown case. On the one hand writers' livlihoods depend on the ability to defend their copyright, as the litigants, Michael Baigent and Richard Leig claim to be doing. Yet most writers are also, to some extent, intellectual magpies, picking inspiration and ideas from a variety of sources, often unconsciously.

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