I’ve been robbed!

This morning I got an email from a co-worker who informed me I had been robbed. Not robbed in the traditional sense of the word, but robbed none-the-less.

A little over a year and a half ago I came up with an idea for a video for one of my internal clients at Compassion. It’s a light hearted video with fairly serious message about ending extreme poverty. We made it available through a special website so that it can be customized with your own name or the name of a friend or family member. You can check it out for yourself, if you’d like…just click here.

The email I got this morning contained the following message: “Hey, they swiped our idea!” along with this link: http://t.co/LNK3pDh

I clicked on the link and watched the video. Conflicting thoughts and emotions started running through my head. “That’s my video…they’ve stolen my idea! I’ve been robbed!!” I thought. Should I be flattered that someone liked my idea so much that they ripped it off or should I be angry? Honestly, I’m a little bit of both.

Something you should know about me is that I don’t believe there are any new ideas left in the world. I think everything creative has been done and everything that is “new” is a modification of an idea that someone else already came up with. Most people add a new twist or freshen up the idea to fit their specific need but it really isn’t an original idea. That’s not to say that they’ve stolen someone’s idea or plagiarized someone’s work…they’ve taken it in a new direction and made it fit their purpose. I don’t feel like that’s the case with this particular project. There are too many similarities for this to be a coincidence. Someone saw my video and decided to recreate it as their own idea. Sure they made a couple changes here and there but the script, storyline and design are too close to the one we produced for it not to have been a rip off.

I’m not sure what to do about the situation. There’s the old saying that imitation is the highest form of flattery but this goes farther than just being an imitation in my mind. At the very least I think I should add a line to my résumé that my work is creative enough that people are ripping off my ideas!

Am I wrong? Am I reading too much into this? I am truly seeking your thoughts on this since I might be over-reacting. Watch the videos and write a comment to let me know what you think.

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