Hanging in the balance: innovator or copycat?

Discussions are sometimes very confusing. Steve Jobs has never been accused of plagiarism. One of the things Jobs learned from Dylan is that you first have to borrow ideas to arrive at innovations. In business it is well understood and accepted that connecting ideas is fundamental to innovation. Bob Dylan, being a source of inspiration to Jobs, is however very often accused of plagiarism.

Although widely discussed on the internet, it seldom touches the heart of the matter. Dylan always copied lines from books, bible and other songwriters. Most of the times it leads to a complete new innovative work of art as is the case with Chronicles. In some cases, however, it is just copying and not leading at all to something innovative. For example, the arrangement of Canadee-i-o, is copied from Nic Jones. A remark on a blog that Dylan could  never play it the way Jones does, is beside the point. Copying is copying. And Dylan’s versions of Canadee-i-o does not add anything to the one of Nic Jones (besides that Dylan sings it in a better way). The same is true for some of the paintings in the Asian series. Dylan has in a number of cases just copied a photograph. Nothing more, nothing less. In all incidents where the thin line between innovating and copying is crossed, it would credit Dylan, the great artist as he is, to be more generously in giving credits.

About Hans Buskes

I am a professional mindmapper, I help companies map their business, I am author of two mindmap books. My clients are law firms, municipalities, banks, consultancies and high-tech companies.
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3 Responses to Hanging in the balance: innovator or copycat?

  1. daud desmond says:

    The tune for the Star Spangled Banner was taken from someone else. Dylan is not a plagiarist. If you think so, take him to court. So what if the tune for Blowing in the Wind was already around. Most are. Dylan isn’t plagued by plagiarism. He is a part of the larger culture. Go tell Dvorak and Bartok that they were plagued by plagiarism. Dylan hasn’t disappointed me at all. It’s not a sad story but a funny one. From what I’ve seen on his records, if it’s a cover, he gives credit to the writer. As for the paintings, he paid for rights to some of them. What more do you want? Call the police on him for being original.

  2. Huckel Berry says:

    Modern Times is not Innovative but under Plagiarism. Most of the songs from that CD were taken from others. I don t mind Dylan doing this. What I do mind is that he doesn’t give proper credit. A song by some one else can inspire you and then you work on it till its your own. But Blowing in the Wind the tune was also from some one else. As well as Subterranean Home Sick Blues. Dylan seems to be plagued with Plagiarism. Eventually everything will come to light. Dylan has disappointed us. It’s a sad story.

  3. daud desmond says:

    I don’t think Dylan can do what you are asking. And I think he is being scrutinised more than most. In terms of using photos as models, I read he already had paid for the rights for some. As for the guy sobu who has a website of photos, those photos aren’t his anyway. He didn’t take them BUT he accused Bob of plagiarism. The arts are filled with allusions to other peoples’ works. I think that is something that makes Dylan’s songs etc so rich. He’s in touch with other artists. Most of us are not. And when some journalist or blog person discovers Bob copied from a painting, they think they’ve discovered something big. Bob Dylan knows how to paint. And I think he paid tribute to those photographers from 100 years ago by using some of their works as models. Much of Asia doesn’t look that way anymore. It is the romantic in him that used those images. He obviously liked them. This thing is another tiresome Maureen Down witch-hunt, or Trump demanding president Obama’s birth certificate. Everyone in classical music, jazz, folk, blues, literature, painting etc has done what Dylan has done. Most of what Dylan has done though is more original than many others. I think Homeland Security should follow him around with cameras and recording devices. If he steps out of line again we can send him to Guantanamo Bay.

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