Plato was one of the earliest philosophers to provide a detailed discussion of ideas. He considered the concept of idea in the realm of metaphysics and its implications for epistemology. He asserted that there is a realm of Forms or Ideas, which exist independently of anyone who may have thought of these ideas. Material things are then imperfect and transient reflections or instantiations of the perfect and unchanging ideas. From this it follows that these Ideas are the principal reality (see also idealism). In contrast to the individual objects of sense experience, which undergo constant change and flux, Plato held that ideas are perfect, eternal, and immutable. Consequently, Plato considered that knowledge of material things is not really knowledge; real knowledge can only be had of unchanging ideas.(Source: Wikipedia)
Now, take for instance, vampires. I know, the "story" has been done. And done. And done. However, the IDEA of vampires, is it owned by a particular someone? Copyrighted? According to the U. S. Copyright Office, no, an idea cannot be copyrighted.
What Is Not Protected by Copyright?
Several categories of material are generally not eligible for
federal copyright protection. These include among others:
• works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of
expression (for example, choreographic works that have
not been notated or recorded, or improvisational speeches
or performances that have not been written or recorded)
• titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols
or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation,
lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents
• ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts,
principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a
description, explanation, or illustration
• works consisting entirely of information that is common
property and containing no original authorship (for
example: standard calendars, height and weight charts,
tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from
public documents or other common sources) (Source: U. S. Copyright Office)
I realize this may be common knowledge, but in this era when so very much of us and ours is out there (on the web) for everyone to see, copy, use, borrow...it's definitely something to contemplate.
A frog can only be produced from a tadpole. Simple science. Can anyone create a picture book about a tadpole growing into a frog? Yes. (Although, I'm sure there are plenty of adorable pbs' about this subject) However, an author's job is to make the story their own. Tell the story in their own words. Make the tadpole truly authentic.
A Polliwog's Tail
(pb idea created for this blog post by Candy Fite)
Piper, an unruly polliwog in love with her own glorious tail, denies her froggy fate by refusing to learn how to hop on her newly grown legs.
It's that easy. A tadpole to frog...done before. A polliwog with an attitude, refusing her fate...too cute.
So, as writers or readers, what are your feelings on this subject?