Friday, January 21, 2011

Intellectual Property

This morning I woke up thinking of intellectual property. For a couple of reasons, but probably the most likely is that I finally got a chance to watch The Social Network last night and was intrigued about the question of who really "owned" the idea for Facebook. The whole idea of creating something and owning it is a tricky one, I think.

Ideas are everywhere, literally. For writers in particular you're bombarded with ideas if you're alive. Everywhere you go there are stories, settings, conflicts that you read about, hear about, see first hand, and it all gets filtered into an author's head. Everything in a book came from somewhere and even if an author says he made it all up, we know that isn't entirely true. The fictional world an author "made-up" is extapulated from influences that the author has had. Even a different world from Avatar has touches of Native American culture and nature. It wasn't really invented by the writers.

Still, most writers that I know, myself included, try extremely hard NOT to write anything that has been written before. Impossible, really. How many ways are there to describe a kiss, for example. There are lines in romance books that make me scream every time I read them. Some version of, "the smile didn't reach his eyes." Ugh!!!!! Everytime I read this, I think "can't this author come up with something more original than that?" It's been used in millions of romance books and if the first person that wrote it could have gotten royalties on just that line, she'd be a rich woman.

But I'm digressing, the point, I think is that when writing about something like a kiss, writers are going to find it difficult to be completely original. How it happens, when it happens, etc. will be different, but a kiss is a kiss (and hasn't that been said before). And even plots won't be completely original. One romance, thiller, horror novel can sound very much like another, because the stories about falling in love or behing chased by a monster (can be one and the same) has been told a million times. What an author CAN be original about is how the story is delivered. All the experiences the author has in this world are filtered through that person's perspective and then they produce the book you love to read or a movie like Avatar.

As far as Zuckerberg and the other Facebook creators, The Social Network does a good job of showing how each of them had a part in developing the site, a how touchy this thing called intellectual property can be.

Now, off to Facebook to post this blog!

Have a wonderful weekend!


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