Monday, May 21, 2012

Word to Your Mother

First I think I need to give some credit where credit is due.  I don't want anyone to think I'm plagiarizing or anything.

A huge thanks to Justin Hall for creating the first ever blog.  Without him I certainly wouldn't be here, blogging.  Really, we all should be crediting Justin in each and every one of our posts because, well, every blog post that we make WITHOUT giving him credit is a win for plagiarism.  For more information on the history of the blog, please be sure to check out the bastion of all knowledge.

I simply can't go on without thanking that one dude in the tights and the tri-corner hat for thinking it a marvelous idea to publicly announce his general likes or distastes for books in print via locally type-set and hand-cranked newspapers.  Without this unknown gentleman (and you know it's a dude because bitches didn't typeset) we simply couldn't compile coherent thought enough to simply review, let alone add in succinctly placed animated images to better convey our feelings.  On a smaller note, one can't overlook the rise of literacy rates of the general public during that same time.  Thank you, minions, for rising above the mire and paving the way for people like me.

And look!  Even more credit is due to the 18th century!  The rise of the book advert!  Hooray!  Now if you want to talk the beginnings of true advertising you're going to have to go supernova old timey, back to the Greeks and Romans and Egyptians.  They were all about the adverts.  Except their billboards weren't mechanized.  But the book advert?  That coincides with the unwashed masses getting learned and wanting to read them wordy lumps and create discussions with each other and whatnot.  So big up to you, men of history, for thinking to spread the word about the awesomeness of books and giving me the idea to do the same.

Okay?  Are we good?  Is anyone else going to piss and moan about how horrible it is that someone is taking someone else's idea, putting their own unique spin on it and creating their own thing?  Yes?  Then go read Rachel's (Parajunkee's) post about plagiarism versus etiquette and check yourself.  At the rate people are throwing fecal matter at the rotating devices about meme stealing you'd think we'd need to credit the act of book reviewing itself.  Book covers in sidebars?  Credit.  Blog post titles?  Credit.  Blog post signatures?  Credit.  Book covers in reviews?  Credit.  The use of the word 'the'?  Credit.

But that's different--HOW?  How is that different?  I've actually had a feature meme stolen.  Not taken and put a different spin on it.  Stolen verbatim.  That's plagiarism.  You know what else I've seen?  A similar idea altered and added into the book review itself.  Do you see me losing my shit about it?  No.  Because, SHOCK, people can have similar ideas.  It happens.  But I don't expect to be the be-all-end-all of this particular meme and any variations thereof.  That's just insanity.  So really, just because someone posts about the books they received for that week, adding in, or not, whatever else it is they want to add, doesn't make them indebted to a single Al Gore-ish I INVENTED THE INTERNETS blogger because they happen to be bigger and popularized a particular aspect of it.  I'm not going to nitpick the differences between plagiarism and etiquette because Rachel does a good enough job of that.  But let's cut this shit because it's annoying.  The concept of advertising books was not invented in 2007.  Get over it.

Now, just to be clear, YOU CAN'T COPYRIGHT IDEAS.  It's impossible.  The copyright office won't accept it.  Blogging tips, book reviews (generally speaking), snark, the word 'and,' these things are generalities.  Again, this is something that Rachel talks about in that same post above.  Everyone has ideas and they're going to overlap, sometimes unintentionally.  Common phrases, common topics, common themes. It's bound to happen.

Where the line is drawn is where you start copying syntax, set-up, timing, wording, execution.  That leaves the "general ideas" behind and broaches into the world of downright plagiarism.  You can find a billion and one blog posts about how to make your blog successful, how to get readers, how to utilize social media.  Whatever.  All of these guys are going to touch on the same subjects but they should read as individuals.  How many projects did you do in school on the same subjects as classmates but they ended up coming out completely different?  Duh.  Differing execution is possible.  But when your paper sounds awfully close to Billy's over there someone's going to have some 'splainin' to do.  Right, Ice?

Now see Ice here, or is it Mr. Vanilla?  Winky?  Learned the hard way that even though you add a couple of extra notes onto an already popular intro you can't call it your own, completely different or in any way not pass it off as you being a total douche and stealing someone else's stuff.  Bowie & Co. will notice, right Bobby?  A couple of notes does not your work make.  I mean, no wonder this guy totally broke down under his own pent up douchery years later.

So what did the nice tool box learn?  That you can't just take someone else's entire shit, sprinkle in a little of your poo and call it totally yours and be done with it?  Hmm?  Without credit attributed?  Hmmm?  That's right.  We're all big kids.  Totally edumacated.  Let's not toss around half-assed comments that you didn't know what plagiarism was.  That you totally thought you were working under Fair Use or Orphan Works or Feigned Ignorance or whatever.  Let's not start thinking we can strip off the Apple logo on an iPad and start calling it Pear and it's totally our own making because IT LOOKS NOTHING LIKE AN IPAD.  Totally.  Let's not patronize people and insult their intelligence, shall we?

We know Queen and David FUCKING Bowie when we hear it, man.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  Fool me three times and you're stumping around footless because you've shot them off.

I'm smarterer than what I'm generally given credit for.  Now for some of the REAL thing -

Fucking shenanigans.  Seriously.  Can we go a quarter without this shit exploding in a flaming blaze of stink?  Please?  Is that too much to ask?  Three months?  To quote Tom Hanks playing Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own, "Start using your head.  That's that lump three feet above your ass."  There's no crying in baseball.

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