It was said by Charles Caleb Colton in 1820 that “…imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” I am citing my source, because that is what my blog is about today, the good kind of “copying” and the bad kind.
Another common belief, originally expressed by Audre Lorde, is that “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.”
Perhaps the “no new ideas” concept is true, and that none of us can claim a truly original inspiration. We do not exist in a bubble, and therefore we are constantly influenced by people and ideas around us. We might synthesize the thoughts in a different or possibly unique way, but the seeds for our concepts most likely germinated from other people.
It is likely that we may not consciously realize we are “stealing” ideas from others when, say, we are creating our websites, writing advertising copy, producing a sales brochure, or even writing a blog. However, when we consciously “copy” someone else’s ideas, quotes, or designs, we have a responsibility to be as careful and considerate as possible.
First, Do No Harm
From least to most harmful on the damage spectrum, we can look like jerks for “borrowing” someone else’s idea without giving him or her credit for it, all the way to being legally liable for copyright infringement and plagiarism for more overt and financially harmful acts.
My purely common sense business advice is to ask permission if you want to borrow someone’s idea, or at least vary your take on the idea materially so you bring your own touch to it. You might stay out of trouble and not look so much like an evil copy cat.
To see a good copy cat, visit www.copycatbaltimore.com