Skip to main content
Artist rendition of Bob Dylan

Artwork by (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

When I discovered myself as a writer in high school, I had a collection of short stories and poems that I wrote in several notebooks. I showed my most recent book at the time to a youth counselor at a program I attended. This program was meant to provide a creative safe space for New York inner-city youth, a haven of sorts.

Weeks went by and I kept on asking him for my work, to which he eventually admitted to losing on the train. Of course I was devastated, but when I confided in a friend about the incident, I was told something different.

Apparently, I wasn't the first writer whose book he stole. He was a budding screenwriter, and it was rumored that he never returned anybody's writing or art work because he was using it for his screenwriting ambition. I never probed him about the incident, nor did I ever hear my exact words in any of his plays that I watched.

Did my work and that of others inspire him to write plays that my peers could relate to? In my deepest sentiment, I believe so, yes!

I was angry and bitter. My work from that collection would never be published, and here this dude was, getting serious accolades for his "brilliant" writing.

We artists need to be more protective of our work. However, we are also all inspired by someone..., a style we like, a movement in art, a new rap song written in trap-style. Where is the line drawn?

For a while there all my short stories were written with an Edgar Allan Poe influence. My friends thought it was cool how the stories were so intense and short, and just when you thought that it would be just too brief to have a plausible ending, I did it, a perfect finish to a dark tale.

I don't write such stories anymore, but then I was so inspired by Poe's works, I needed to spit out similar allegories.

The image above, is an artist's rendition of a Bob Dylan picture. Ironically, Bob Dylan has also been accused of writing songs with tunes similar to other artists.

Should the photographer of the original image feel positive or negative that his picture was rendered this way? In my opinion this is an example of art imitating art. It is done all the time. We as humans interpret everything of cognisance.

It is a very interesting subject matter. I think the line has to be drawn when an artist is not given credit, like when we copy images from a Website, without giving attribution. That can lead to a serious lawsuit. Of course, a smart photographer will have a digital signature attached to his or her images -- a necessary act in today's world of piracy.

It's a never-ending story. Piracy in some form will exist as long as we are here on earth.

Now that we know this, and are the midst of the digital age, we need to be smarter about attaching security features to all works, published or not.