Monday, August 17, 2009

You can't copyright ideas but ...

So a nice fellow wrote me, very politely, to say he had been working on a book and only recently was it pointed out to him that one of the core concepts was very similiar to something I'd written about, and would I sign off on him being able to continue with his project? My response:
You're asking for blanket permission to do something similar to something that I created; you don't require my permission to do your own thing, but I'm really not in a position to say no matter how close you come to what I did I'm not going to object. Now that you're conscious of the antecedent for your idea, it's incumbent on you to make it as freshly and distinctly your own as possible -- just as I've done with things in my own work that are inspired by other people's writings. :)
And I wished him luck.
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At August 17, 2009 10:40 PM , Blogger David said...

Original ideas are hard to come by, but they are the name of the game when it comes to SF. A new twist on an old idea (I would use your WWW series as an example since the web coming to consciousness is not new) is great too, so long as it's not too pastiche, or pure hack. I empathize with this guy, but if I learned I was working on a something that had already been used, and probably sold well, I would abandon it.

There will always be new ideas and concepts for those folks with imagination enough to dream them up, but your reputation is hard to reestablish once you've been labeled a thief or hack.

-- david j.


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