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The Arrogant Artist

Where does one draw the line between an idea that was influenced by someone else’s work and an idea that was “stolen? from its originator? I found the situation between the artist, Christian Marclay and the iPhone company rather comical and, overall, surprising.

My first confusion accumulated when I read that iPhone courteously asked Marclay if they could build off of his idea. I would have thought that such a massive conglomerate would not have even considered asking Marclay if they could use his “idea.? It seems that the IPhone Corporation may have just been attempting to eliminate any potential lawsuits that Marclay may have gathered. But even that does not make sense because the iPhone company used the idea anyway. I think it showed civility from the iPhone company to ask Marclay if they could use his broad idea that had a gray area when it came to defining the original artist; they obviously were not concerned about lawsuits, but they at least asked.

It seems like Marclay took advantage of the fact that iPhone ultimately considered the “Hello? medley from various movies as his idea. I would assume that Marclay would not even consider the iPhone ad a plagiarized version of his work if iPhone had not asked for his permission. Marclay acted stubborn and arrogant to refuse to give permission to the company to recreate a collage of movie clips. Marclay portrayed an immature action when he refused to let iPhone use “his? idea. This situation reminds me of an event when I was younger. My little sister looked at a picture of a person that I drew, she complimented me on the way I drew the person’s eyes, and then she constructed a picture using the same eyes that I incorporated into my painting. It happens. People get influenced by certain things and have the right to renovate and advance the idea that motivated them. That same idea was represented by Marclay’s lawyer when he wanted to persecute the iPhone company, “’there’s nothing I can do about it. They have the right to be inspired’? (Bercovici).

One does not credit nature for being the drive and motivation for the work of practically everything inspirational. We just respect it – just as the iPhone company did when it asked for Marclay’s permission even though the act was unnecessary. I am glad that iPhone countered Marclay’s refusal. Marclay of all people should understand the aspect of being inspired by other people or other already-established ideas. His entire career consists of borrowed sounds; he even says aloud that he influenced by the “sounds that people don’t want? in Telephones (Bercovici). Marclay needs to relax; he is not the first person to integrate mixed music or specifically cut videos into one’s work. People have been utilizing all different types of objects to get a particular noise for a movie or mixing music on turntables far before Marclay came up with his “unique? form of art with abstract noises.

My second confusion was how Marclay contradicted himself when he spoke about lawsuits. He first spoke to his lawyer about filing a lawsuit against iPhone, but he was shot down by his own attorney after he said that people have the right to get inspired. The lawyer probably laughed in Marclay’s face because Marclay was upset about iPhone’s supposed “rip-off.? Marclay then says that he is not fond of the idea of going to court over a dispute like that, “’This culture’s so much about suing each other that if we want to have anything that’s more of an open exchange of idea, one has to stop this mentality,’? (Bercovici). Hmm, Marclay, I thought you just tried to file a lawsuit but your lawyer told you that you couldn’t.

Marclay has no reason to be complaining. He extracts noises from musical tools that have already been used for a melodic purpose. He must have been influenced by disc jockeys and turntables to create his artwork; he is contradicting his own work by persecuting the iPhone company. He needs to be consistent in his statements. He tried to file a lawsuit, but it failed, and then he comes up with an excuse for why he is not going to sue the major company. If the iPhone company did anything wrong, it was asking permission from Marclay to use “his idea.? The commercial’s “Hello? idea was too broad to specify one particular artist. Ultimately, all people are influenced by something or someone at one point in their lives. We all build off of each other’s creativity or even the creativity that exists in nature. If we did not do so, nothing would get done. As long as it is not a lucidly direct copy of someone’s work, it should be grounds for inspiration.

Works Cited
Bercovici, Jeff. RadarOnline: Artist Says IPhone Ad Was a Rip-Off. 27 March 2007. 3 November 2007 .


Dear Kimberly,

I completely agree with you when you say that you are confused. From an early age we are taught that what doesn’t belong to us isn’t ours and that we should always ask permission before we use it—some of us that is. Plagiarism has been jammed down our throats that it wrong, wrong, wrong. So why is it such a big deal that a huge company like Apple, asked for permission to use an idea from who—comparable to their size— seemed like a meager peasant, in this case Mr. Marclay?

This may seem like a controversial topic due to the fact that one corporation produced a commercial used to sell a huge product worldwide, but does the world really care? No. I looked into if the public should care more about plagiarism and found an article from Meghan O’Rourke. I understood that plagiarism comes down to just wanting credit when credit is due. To me playing the accusation game of who stole your idea and republished your work first is a little childish. When I read that even people have accused J.K. Rowling of plagiarism I realized that the world just wants it’s rightfully earned money or fame. J.K. Rowling’s books are so out of this world that it is extremely hard to believe that someone else could have thought of the same thing, but anybody can rewrite a manuscript and say “Hey I tried that ten years ago!?

To me I think that great minds think alike, and also that copying is a sign of flattery, and if authors seriously have the courage to accuse someone of plagiarism they better have a lot of guts to back up their work as well.

I also found this particular subject to be quite comical. I kind of related it to when I found out about the lady who sued McDonalds’ because her hot chocolate was to hot and she spilled it and burned herself. She actually won the case. It did not surprise me that Apple Company and iPhone asked Marclay if they could use his movie clip “hello? idea because it was the right thing to do to ask him. I did think it was surprising that Marclay said Apple could not use his idea to help promote the iPhone. To me being associated with Apple would have helped Marclay out a lot. At the end of the ad people would have saw his name and been like, who is that guy. Some people would then research who this guy was and possibly would get into Marclay’s other works. I do not agree with Apple how they went ahead and put out the ad without Marclay’s permission. They could have made the ad like they did, put in a little something about Marclay and showed him they ad and see if he would allow that to be put on the air.

I like your example you used about your sister copying they eyes you drew on your person on hers. However, your sister copying your eyes on her person is not on the same scale as Apple using Marclay’s “hello? idea. The ad being viewed by the entire nation makes it a much bigger deal.

I don't think that he was being errogant at all, it was his idea and if the iphone company was not going to give him credit for the idea then I would not want someone to use it either. It's like if I had invented a new product but it didn't have a patent yet and someone stole my project plans without giving me any credit. I remember when I saw this add for the first time on tv and I remember thinking that it was such a new and creative idea, but now my view is skewed and I know that it was not the iphone company who made it up, it was Marclay. I understand that the iPhone company would have been "inspired" by Marclay's idea but then they should have changed it more instead of simply sampling different current movies. I don't think that they changed the idea enough where it was really "inovated." I think that if they were truely "inspired" by Marclay's work then they should have put "inpired by Marclay" at the end of their comercial. It only seems right, usually this is how it works when people work off of other people ideas or when they get help from others, one must give credit where credit is due.

Although you do make a good case at the end againgst Marcay; it is true that he was inspired by odd sounds, but it is much harder to give credit to anyone for making those sounds because they are accidental. He claims to be the first person to play around with turntables with odd sounds, and without knowing the history of such an odd talent it is hard to prove him worng. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it is also hard to believe that he was the first person to pull clips together from different films. Even so it is a different case for the iPhone add because it was just too similar to Marcay's to not give him any credit.

Kim, I like your thoughts on where one would draw the line on plagiarism. Essentially, as Jeff explained to us in class, there is no original idea. All ideas are just the same old stuff rearranged into to a new pleasing way. So what can we define as plagiarism when similar ideas are used by separate people.? You say the Apple Corporation courteously asked Marclay if they could use his idea, which I suppose must be a courtesy if they really didn’t have to, though I suppose it had nothing to do with social niceties, just a legal recommendation. But I wouldn’t go as far to say that Marclay was stubborn and arrogant to refuse his permission for them to take his idea. Marclay’s video was a work of art, and had an entirely different intention that to be used by Apple for the iPhone. There is nothing wrong with his wanting for his video to remain art, though essentially it doesn’t matter anyways since he had no power over what Apple chose for their advertisement. But like you I was also a tad annoyed with Marclay and his whining about lawsuits. He says something along the lines of he hasn’t taken legal action--yet. His lawyer essentially told him there is nothing that he can do, and he’s still threatening to go to court, and the way he’s phrasing it is like he believes he’s being all civil and courteous for not having done so yet.

Essentially I like how you put it “if the iPhone company did anything wrong, it was asking permission from Marclay to use ‘his idea’ ?, Marclay has the right to protect his art all he wants, but essentially there isn’t much he can do because his idea was so broad and not entirely original, he doesn’t own the idea of mixing movie clips together. Apple has every right to use the commercial as they did.

I agree with you that everyone is inspired by someone else’s idea. In everything that we do we get inspired into doing it with the help of other’s work therefore we should at least credit the person that we got our ideas from. To put it short IPhone failed to credit the person that they took their idea from. It’s true that the original author of the “Hello? clips took clips off of movies and used them, but it was his idea to begin with. Without him IPhone wouldn’t have thought of that idea of taking movie clips of people saying hello and using it. Although I find what IPhone did was wrong in taking Marclay’s idea I also found what Marclay did was wrong too by refusing to let IPhone use his “idea,? but IPhone should have respected his decision about not wanting them to use his “idea.?
I totally agree with you that Marclay should of understand IPhone inspiration because he too uses other people to create his musical pieces therefore he should understand where IPhone was coming from. I didn’t think Marclay was being arrogant at all when he refused to let IPhone expand on his work. Sometimes even if you want to inspire someone with you work you don’t want them tempering with the idea. Because by tempering with the idea they may do a better job and therefore receiving more recognition for the work that you have done.

When you talk about people being inspired about an idea you think of a building that has been worn and faded over time. They also could be inspired by a song and use it to paint a painting. When you use an idea like the hello clips two people can end up with two totally different products. If they ended up with the same product then people are stealing and plagerizing.
Marclay did not have the product that looked close to the product of apple but he still thinks he was the creator of the "hello" commercial. Some of the inventions in the world were taken from other peoples ideas but the problum was that could not get their product to work and someone else got it to work. So ideas do not make the product the end result is the what you can fight over is someone has the same result as you because they copiede it the you can be upset.

First off let me start out by saying that I thought you did a great job analyzing the situation from the short film we watched in class. You made a lot of great points in your position paper, and you also had really good explanations for them. When you discussed how iPhone used Marclay’s idea of using the various film clips cut and pasted together and Marclay’s reaction to it, I thought that you made some really good points. Such as how Marclay most likely made a mistake in not letting them use his idea. I think the funny thing was that this was not even all Marclay’s idea. He had gotten inspired from someone else, and now iPhone was being inspired by him. If he had been smart, he would have let iPhone use his idea. I am sure that they would have paid him some sort of compensation, otherwise why would they even bother asking him? And if they had not offered him one, he could have bartered for it. Another aspect that I thought was really clever was when you discussed Marclay’s view of suing people and lawyers and courts in our culture today. You pinpointed the ridiculousness of his quote, “‘This culture’s so much about suing each other that if we want to have anything that’s more of an open exchange of idea, one has to stop this mentality,’? by pointing out that he had just gone to a meeting with a lawyer. He is such a hypocrite. Just because he wasn’t able to take Iphone to court, he is trying to put on a persona of not caring, of not being a whiny and stubborn man. You gave this paper a fitting title; he is in fact and arrogant artist.