The question that came up was something about ekphrastic art and when is it a collaboration, and when is it plagiarism, or appropriation, or something unethical like that. Generally, I’m an admirer of Woody Guthrie, and I love what he said about people using his music without permission, I don’t remember the actual quote, I’m paraphrasing, but it was something like: “If somebody sings one of my songs, well they’re a pretty good friend of mine.” He didn’t really take a proprietary view of things.
I can understand the opposite attitude, of course. For some, art is a career, which means they can’t afford to treat it as a hobby.
But, I think the argument is likely to soon become moot. Art, of course, has always been full of fraud, appropriation, forgery, and all sorts of skullduggery. Now, however, with the advent of the internet, we are in a whole new world. It is a world in which ideas are seen instantly by millions of people and masses of people can instantly decide to all mangle the same meme, in a thousand different directions. A poet sees a painting and writes a poem about it. A musician is inspired by a book. A film is inspired by a video game.
I’m not saying that in the future all art will be ekphrastic art. There will always be new love songs, and beautiful paintings inspired by nature.
But a lot will be, and there’s no stopping it.