I hate copying. Say what you will about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, but I disagree.

Someone who copies your work is not going out of their way to flatter you. They just want to take your work and profit off it, in one way or the other. They want to kill-steal all your hard effort because they don’t have any morals or creativity.

It happens a lot in animation, and it absolutely disgusts me. For example, check out this nice animation of a sneaky ninja:

Six months ago, I was following this guy’s progress on the 11 Second Club animation forums and I was really impressed by how well it was turning out.

Then just earlier today, I saw someone post a demo-reel that looked like this:

(Update: the guy has since removed his video… but trust me – it was exactly the same, but badly done. Same color schemes, same character, same concept)

Did that opening shot look familiar to you? Does that make your stomach churn just a little bit? I tasted bile in my mouth when I saw it.

Now this is a demo-reel, meaning this person is planning to send this out to animation studios in an effort to get a job. It’s not some guy just messing around and recreating his favorite scene from Star Wars. Is there really any difference between this and someone applying for a job and stating on their resume that they invented the telephone, the iPod and fire? If it’s not your original idea, then you shouldn’t be using it to get yourself a job.

It gets worse. Check out this other “demo reel”, and fast-forward to the shot at 0:40 seconds.

You might find it hard to understand why this character suddenly runs on the spot – it just doesn’t make any sense, unless the ground is incredibly slippery or something… except there isn’t any indication of that at all.

However, it ends up making sense if you’ve seen this other shot. As you can see, there are a whole bunch of ball bearings on the ground in this shot, which would then make perfect sense for the character to slip and fall.

This thief has blindly copied a shot, frame by frame, without even trying to understand the concept. I think this is even worse, because it just goes to show how lazy the idea-thief is.

What happens when you blindly copy stuff for profit

These two examples are of animation-theft, but really the problem goes far beyond just the animation industry. People copy stuff all the time in movies, music, and writing – and then profit off it.

The dragon is sad because he knows he’s unoriginal

Hell, Christopher Paolini copied the Star Wars movies, replaced the lightsabers with dragons, and then sold it off as the Eragon books to a new generation of kids that don’t know what a Jedi is. You honestly can’t argue that the two stories are virtually identical, beat for beat, character for character.

I know that you can’t find original ideas anymore because everything new is inspired by something that came before or based on the same archetypes etc… but in these examples, it’s really just the same thing with no real effort to even alter any details.

And it does hurt people. Imagine if someone came to your blog, copied and pasted entire blog posts, and then stuck it on their own blogs and passed it off as their own ideas and opinions? What if someone took your tweets, and put it up as their own – not a retweet, not a quotation, but their own “original” tweet? What if these people made money or got jobs because of this?

Anyway, here’s another link that explains how wrong it is to copy, except from a furniture design perspective. Yes, copying and idea-stealing exists in the furniture world too!

So please… don’t do it! And curb-stomp anyone you find doing it!

Not all thieves wear masks and rob stores.


About Drew

I love videogames, movies, my wife and my dog (in no particular order).

9 responses »

  1. Great post, Drew, and you really summed up the essence of it with “This thief has blindly copied … without even trying to understand the concept.” When I worked full-time as in-house graphic designer, I was always shocked by other designers who, devoid of any of their own concepts, would lift whole ideas from obscure designs books, figuring they were so obscure nobody would notice. Change the fonts and colors and bingo .. a “new” design is born, without any regard how it works it the scheme of the overall project, or whether it answers the clients needs. As a creative person, my philosophy is: If you can’t do it yourself, don’t do it at all.

    • drewpan says:

      I like your philosophy! Wifey and I just watched Hurt Locker last night.. and imagine if some guy cheated on his application to be a bomb disposal tech! What’s he going to do when he goes out to his first assignment?

      I really like that… “If you can’t do it yourself, don’t do it at all!”

  2. Mitzie Mee says:

    You are so right! Copying is stealing,..

  3. Vividhunter says:

    The great thing about the internet is that if you rip people’s work off, eventually someone will call you on it. I think it’s happened a few times with web-comics as well.

    • drewpan says:

      Yeah that’s great… but I feel bad for those guys whose work was cannibalized for someone else’s demo-reel. Not all demo-reels go up on the internet before they have a chance to be publicly shamed.

  4. sarcasmjew says:

    I totally agree with you. Although it’s never happened to anyone I know personally, but in college there were several cases of students copying thesis projects without citing them as a source. It didn’t take long for the professors to find out and have that student put on probation or even expelled if the issue persisted.

  5. Cara Olsen says:

    I find it difficult to understand why people stoop to thievery for recognition; deep down, they must have this hollowed out feeling, knowing that anything and everything gaining attention and praise is thanks to the person they stole it from.
    But I suppose the objective word here is “stoop.” There are certainly those who are lazy, who would prefer to do as little work as possible, stamp their signature on a product and call it a day; but I think most often times thievery is the result after every other avenue has been exhausted and still they are coming up nil. It doesn’t make it right, and I would be livid/devastated if this ever happened to me, but I would also be sad for that someone driven to such desperation, that they believed they had to steal so someone would pay attention to them.

    • drewpan says:

      That kind of takes it to another moral issue then, right? I mean, it’s like that Denzel Washington movie John Q. He is a noble guy, beaten down by life and crooked insurance companies, and when he has no other choice he takes a hospital hostage. But what if he hadn’t spent the first half of the movie exhausting all other options first? What if he just waltzed into the hospital in the first ten minutes because he’s got a gun and he knows how to use it?

      I want to believe that all thieves are driven to stealing by bad fortune and tough times… but I think a lot of them are just like the guy who peeks over your shoulder at a school exam because he was partying the night before.

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