Bad artists copy, great artists steal

Watching The Social Network today got me thinking about the nature of success. Look at facebook, Apple, Microsoft. The breakthroughs that made them what they are today came from other people. Microsoft ripped off (and continues to rip off) Apple, which ripped off Xerox (sort of). Zuckerberg got the idea for facebook from the Winklevoss twins and Divya Narenda.

Is it better to be original or to take other's ideas and make them better? At the end of the day, do people want to support the "original", which is an inferior product, or the ripoff, which is a better product? It seems that originality either leads to colossal failure or success, while taking the ideas of others guarantees at least marginal success. It's a scientific fact, look at fast food burger joints. Now if you take an already established "good" idea and make it better, you've got it made. It's less work for more reward and really, that's how all progress is made. Just make sure you changed one thing slightly so you can deny you ripped someone off if you get sued, or make so much money that you can settle out of court.

note: this is not an example of the original being inferior, but it's probably safe to say that Family Guy has been more commercially successful.


  1. ... except that your example does not support the "original as inferior product" theory.

  2. ^Yes, I should have said that the Jimmy Corrigan vs Stewie thing is just to illustrate how a ripoff can be "superior", at least commercially. The facebook thing is a better example, Zuckerburg "stole" an idea and made it better. Good and bad is subjective really, but if there has to be a standard, I'm just going by what the general population likes.

  3. Very true, and pretty depressing.


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