Boing Boing had an interesting article recently about a talk by Jeff Veen that said “great artists steal.” It’s from a quote (“good artists copy, great artists steal”) usually attributed to Pablo Picasso… who probably stole it himself from T.S Elliot. Anyway, Veen does a good job explaining the general idea behind the quote, that stealing is great when something significant is added to the original. But how do you actually steal? In the full post I look at three examples of theft in computer design, print art and music in hopes of teaching the art of stealing.

Steve Jobs admits to theft in this short video.

But Steve has also accused Microsoft of theft from time to time. The funny thing is they both stole their ideas for the personal computer from Xerox Parc’s Alto, who really just put together university research. Apple and Microsoft, however had the business sense and capitalized on the invention.

Shepard Fairey talks about being sued by the AP (the photo in his iconic “Change” posters was originally an AP photo). The use of photos is not a murky a field as computer science research. However, the trend is towards a looser copyright law as technology allows the creation of mash ups as a matter of course.

When Johnny Cash wanted to cover Trent Reznor’s song Hurt, Trent said “the idea sounded a bit gimmicky.” After seeing the music video Trent said “that song isn’t mine anymore.” If only Apple and AP could be so magnanimous.

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