The End of Attribution?

A couple of days ago, we featured a video posted on Penguin’s YouTube Channel that used a smart video technique to restore faith in the future of book publishing. A couple of our readers were quick to point out that the video’s creative element was highly similar to an award-winning video called “Lost Generation”. (See above.) And yet there was no attribution. A problem? Particularly for an entity in the intellectual property/copyright business?

UPDATE: Tonight, another reader tells us that “Lost Generation” has its own origins in a 2006 advertisement for Argentinian presidential candidate Ricardo Lopez Murphy called “The Truth.” Does this make this style of video a meme of sorts? A style that’s so out there that attribution is not worth a bother? Perhaps I’m holding Penguin’s feet too close to the fire on this one. Perhaps (as, Maria, a blogger colleague mentions via email) this highlights a bigger problem. Too much derivation. Not enough original thinking all around.

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Comments (7)
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  • Well, same deal as the REM / Improv Everywhere flashmob video… It’s the ugliest, most unscrupulous manifestation of those I-wish-I’d-thought-of-this-first moments that we all have.

  • The penguin video wouldn’t have been an issue if the Lost Generation video was released with under a Creative Commons license that allowed derivatives without attribution. Since the Lost Generation video didn’t come with that license, releasing a video that gets anywhere near copyright gray areas probably wasn’t a smart move for Penguin, if they want others to respect their IP–whether it was technically legal or not.

  • Mike says:

    Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it doesn’t constitute theft.

    Actually there’s been quite a lot of sincere flattery going on. Jonathan Reed’s 2007 “Lost Generation” video was awarded second place in AARP’s “U@50 Challenge,” but his work was in turn inspired by a 2006 advertisement for Argentinian presidential candidate Ricardo Lopez Murphy called “The Truth,” which was created by Savaglio/TBWA & Associates in Buenos Aires. You can see the English and Spanish versions here:

    That ad won a Silver Lion award at the Cannes Film Festival. Here’s a little article on it:

  • Avi Burstein says:

    > …it just seems like it’s bad form not to give attribution, especially if you make your business in the world of ideas.

    And you never stop complaining that everyone is unfairly ripping off your content.

  • Avi Burstein says:

    Just to clarify my last comment: the “you” of ‘you never stop complaining’, was referring to the publishing industry, not to the esteemed blog author.

  • Mario Ramirez Reyes says:

    Actually… they are attributing both sources in their blog entry (link on the “more info” bar on the Youtube site).

    “Where did the idea come from?

    DK Marketing in the UK had asked us to make a film for their conference in February, about how publishing would look in the future. We took inspiration from a film we had seen on YouTube called “The Lost Generation” and suggested this might work as a treatment for the DK film, which we called “The End of Publishing”. “The Lost Generation” was inspired, along with some other similar reincarnations, by a film called “The Truth”. This original film was an Argentinian political TV advertisement written by Ricardo Lopez for the Argentinian Political Party Recrear. It won the Silver Lion Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.”

    I think the problem is not doing this attribution in the actual “product” (video).

  • Mike says:

    Thanks for the information, Mario. I think it would be interesting to know whether the concept actually originated with the politician, Ricardo Lopez Murphy, or (and I think this is more likely) with some unnamed ad agency worker in Buenos Aires. It was a great idea.

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