The importance of copyright is quite clear; it’s a way for people to legally protect their work from being stolen by others. When you copyright a piece of your work, it’s straightforward that that piece of work is yours and no one else can use it without your permission or copy it and claim it as their own. On the other hand, when it comes to pieces of work that are not copyrighted, our society has set an expectation that the original creator must be credited anyway. However, this is not a written rule anywhere.
I’ve been witnessing this happen in social media quite a bit where people with a large following create something, post it, then are immediately faced with backlash from their followers on how they stole the idea, even if they may not have know it. An influencer who comes to my mind right away is a YouTuber by the name of James Charles. He is a male beauty influencer who has been accused many times in the past of stealing people’s ideas and claiming them as his own. Despite him denying these accusations, his followers find it hard to believe that he gets no ‘inspiration’ from other artists, especially with makeup looks like the one pictured below. Although it’s evident now that he takes the time to credit people when necessary, his followers were still outraged that a social media influencer with millions of followers had the audacity to steal ideas from multiple influencers with a significantly less following than him.
I believe that people are extremely hard on ‘copiers’ nowadays because original ideas are so hard to come by. It seems as though anything and everything has already been done. It’s also incredibly easy now for people to find out if someone has copied someone else with social media and how fast it spreads. The image above was one James Charles’s most famous ‘copying’ scandals. A lot of people who were defending him during this situation were proposing that he didn’t know the other girl had already created a similar makeup look. I find this hard to believe because with the search engine technology we have now, it’s easy for people to check if their idea has already been done through a quick Google search. Even if James didn’t know it was already done before him, the whole debacle could have been avoided if he did a quick search of the makeup look before he posted. He could have still done the makeup look, but given credit where it was due.
On the flip side, we also have people wanting their social media accounts to fit a certain mould or ‘aesthetic’ that matches everyone else’s. Let’s be real, everyone’s Instagram accounts look the same nowadays. I find it interesting how we are against this ‘copycat’ culture, but at the same time we want to fit in this aesthetically pleasing ‘Instagram mould.’ People are also willingly giving this information away. There are tons of videos on the Internet where people share how they achieve their Instagram theme. What makes ‘stealing’ Instagram themes without crediting different from stealing other kinds of ideas and work? Our guest speaker in class this week, Trevor Battye, talked about the uniqueness of our websites and creating something that no one else can compete with you on. I find this almost the opposite on social media, especially Instagram, because it seems though no one minds if their account looks the same as everyone else’s; it almost appears to be the goal.