Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

The Works of Marketing with Ray INDEX

April 9, 2002• Volume 1 Issue 44

Ideas & Plagiarism

"There's nothing new under the sun ... it's just how it's packaged."

This may not be the exact quote, yet, I've heard a version of these few words most of my life. Don't know where they came from ... do know it means "everything" is here. And either we haven't found "it" before, or it's how we put "it" together. Whatever "it" is.

Well, believe that philosophy or not, ideas, old and re-cycled, or new (at least to us) are what keep people interested and with you. As a body, people seem to tire early of sameness. We want something "new". Different. Unusual. Unique. Sometimes one of a kind works, if we can get it.

A few weeks ago USA Today ran an article about ideas, asking if there is a burnout of good, new ideas. Their report is really more about plagiarism ... than ideas. They begin with a rehash of the story of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who has copied (according to her) scores of works from others and included them in her many books as original. This best selling author may be selling a lot of books for Simon & Schuster, yet, she frequently isn't the author! She, by definition, is committing plagiarism. She is stealing words, ideas, thoughts and phrases from another.

Being new and original today can be tough. First, there are hundreds of television channels running 24 hours a day looking for something to talk about. Ditto radio. And although this is not an excuse, the web has made plagiarism so much easier to do. "Everything" is more readily accessible. You don't have to go to the library and research for days, weeks, even months - you do it in minutes, hours ... maybe a few days ... on the web.

This has lead - as one might imagine - to our university generation, probably the most computer literate on the planet if the kids in my life are any measure, to doing what Ms. Goodwin has done; stealing papers off the web, passing them off as their own. And, what is amazing (and frightening!) is when you talk to the students, you learn they feel if it's on the Internet it's public knowledge and available to them to use as they wish. Appears we have some real education to do.

Yet, why wouldn't the newest generation think using another's material was okay? After all, our culture is full of examples where what is "hot" today was born decades - or at least years - ago. Look at television, music, film, art, designer clothing, jewelry, electronics ... much of the expansion is not "new". It is another level of the same. An extension of the same series, Parts II and III and IV of the story. Knock-offs are big part of the copywriter world, too.

It used to be if something was worth doing it was worth doing right. Now it seems the message is if something is worth doing, it's worth doing over and over again and again.

So, are we running close to the edge ... are we experiencing a burnout of ideas? I think not. In fact, no way. Robert Thompson from the Center for the Study of Popular Television, talking that media alone, disagrees ... at least a little bit. He says there are not enough "new" ideas to fill all the TV slots available; so, "When you've worn out new ideas you have to recycle."

My response to Mr. Thompson is recycling an idea always changes it. Into something different than it was before. Making it "new". That does not address the plagiarism issue - I could of stolen the original idea from you - yet, that is another issue. In my opinion, although I love this topic, generating new ideas and the problems of plagiarism are different topics.

Profit before ideas is a subtitle from the USA Today article. Money gets in the way of good taste, common sense and just about everything. Especially in the entertainment business. Where it is better to be profitable then to be right. Matthew Felling of the Center for Media & Public Affairs says, talking about that broad industry;

"People are not trying new things; they're going for the
safe, lucrative idea and putting muscle behind resuscitating
dusty concepts rather than reaching out."

The recent Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games introduced several "new" sports. Some of these activities do not appear to me to be sport at all - they are more games turned into competition. Yet, what I think doesn't matter. There were several "new" things going on in Utah. And the marketplace loved it - the positive response was high.

Why do I not think we're short on ideas? Well, let's begin with some math;

1 + 1 = 2 ... right? Wrong!
1 + 1 = 4.

Here's how; you have an idea and share it with me. I have an idea and share it with you. Now each of us have two ideas, our own and another. Some may say "but they are the same ideas". I say they are not ... because each of us will change the others idea - at least a little bit. Enough to make it new and different for us.

And this continues; 1 + 1 + 1= 3 .... or 9? I say 9.

"When you've worn out new ideas you have to recycle. What
we're seeing with all this copycat culture and plagiarism are the
equivalent of those blue bins on the curbside for recycling."

So says Robert Thompson. And I think this time he's right. Yet, my experience with recycling ideas in business (unlike television and the movies) is they become better. Like fine wine, they age well.

Are we running out of ideas? Absolutely not!


The previous two E-zines had a collection of numbers. This time it's words. Those "fun" Oxymoron words. Here goes with some of the best. Oh, and EnJoy!

  • Act Naturally
  • Advanced BASIC
  • Almost Exactly
  • Alone Together
  • Clearly Misunderstood
  • Definite Maybe
  • Diet Ice Cream
  • Exact Estimate
  • Found Missing
  • Genuine Imitation
  • Good Grief
  • Government Organization
  • Legally Drunk
  • Living Dead
  • New Classic
  • Passive Aggression
  • Peace Force
  • Political Science
  • Pretty Ugly
  • Resident Alien
  • Safe Sex
  • Same Difference
  • Silent Scream
  • Small Crowd
  • Soft Rock
  • Taped Live
  • Terribly Pleased
  • Temporary Tax
  • Tight Slacks
  • 12 ounce Pound Cake
  • Working Vacation
  • Synthetic Natural Gas
  • ... and, the last one; "This page intentionally left blank."

Why do we use these phrases? I don't know ... and it depends. Next time.


Each E-zine, The Works of Marketing with Ray, has a quote from the world's most famous philosopher ... Anonymous.

Here's one for this time;

"If you win say little. If you lose say less"

"Quotes with Direction" has been a part of my web site collection from day one. If you like quotes visit the archives ... www.rayjutkins.com/quotes/. There's a new batch up every 4 weeks.


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Time is a great teacher.

Along with mentors. The boss, fellow-workers. Friends. Just being around students at school, the members of a temple, mosque, synagogue or church, an association or club. A friends company. The competition. The neighbors. Kids. By osmoses much sticks.

My time in sales since age 12, in marketing and direct marketing since graduation, have allowed me to have a few thoughts to share. They're available in a collection of products. And you can own any or all!

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The Works of Marketing with Ray INDEX

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