I have learned a great many things in my life as both a designer and educator; some good, some bad. Among the most despicable acts one can commit as a designer or student is taking the work of someone else and passing it off as their own. Please don’t misunderstand. It’s common practice for many designers to research different styles for inspiration, but when the line between motivation and plagiarism becomes so blurry that it’s indistinguishable you’ve got to question it.
What’s more troubling is that many offenders know it’s wrong but continue to do it anyway, convincing themselves that somehow the vile act has some redemptive value. I’ve even heard faulty logic claiming that it isn’t really copying if you change at least x percent of it. I hate to break it to you, but most copyright lawyers will tell you there is no magic formula! Cheating is cheating. If you’re doing an homage or a parody that’s something different – here identification of the original is important to understanding and appreciating the work.
It’s disturbing to see a growing number of people turn a blind eye toward this type of behavior. One could almost go so far as to say that society’s general lack of ethical and moral fortitude might be the cause. Where does that start? With each of us. Can we really blame others, even if they represent the majority, for our individual lack of integrity? Is it really old-fashioned to be honest and truthful? Is it considered progressive to be more UN-like the generations before us? Does society now hold a higher view of a cheater these days than they once did? If you claim you don’t believe in statistical morality to determine the difference between right and wrong, then stop looking at what the crowd is doing. Do the right thing – be original!