When is it considered a rip?


A question for those who have an opinion.
When is it considered a rip-off of another work? How big of a percentage is over the line?
Many stories are "similar" to another theme or plot but are unique in their own way.
Is this decision made by attorneys and pay-offs, or is there an invisible line?

Apparently somewhat similar concepts...

Alien take-over of bodies:

Invasion of the body snatchers
Puppet Masters
The Hidden
The Thing (feel free to add more)

Replacement (look alike/similar) Robots

Blade Runner
Battlestar Galactia

I'm confused as to what is new and what is "actionable" plagiarism ??
Can someone explain?
Hmm, I think you have to go right to the core of storytelling. Read up on Propp, the russian who looked into myths and folklore stories and discovered there are only so many stories and characters. If you look into the characters you can actually see the characters in Star Wars ep IV in there almost immediately.

When it comes to novels and films there are obvious copyrights, but with the hash of remake after remake I suppose our back is up already subconsciously.

In a year when two films have come out, I am Legend and I am Omega, you have to wonder what the industry is doing to appease peoples minds.

I know what plagiarism is in academia, but where fiction goes I guess it is a bit more fast and loose.
Good points.

For example when I look at Babylon 5, I see the Nationalities/Races of Earth.

It could be just too many beers?, but

Mimbari = Asian ?
Centauri = France/England ?
Shadows = "Boogie man" (of the moment) ?
Narn = Israel ?
League Worlds = UN ?
Brakiri etc. = up & coming folk (Russian split-ups) ?
Drak = axis of evil ? (la la la)

somewhat similar to L Ron Hubbards races in Battlefield Earth, back of the mind, annoyingly familiar to the existing (at some point in their history) ?

perhaps not, and it's all a dream......again.

I guess it's the "My Sweet Lord" vs. "He's so fine" thing that bugs me.
every show or movie i have seen shows some aspect of our real life. star trek did it with united races fighting for a cause.

still all the replays of stories or storylines, even the characters keep going on and on. you can only expand on a story so many times before you run out of characters and ideas before you start overlapping each other.

the fact that for the most part it is not the same storyline each time is what keeps us as humans coming back for more.

ok, so you see a cylon who is a robot, a terminator who is a robot, a robot who is a robot who is human. story goes on and on but different ratios of the story keep us inspired.

how many movies about bugs attacking. there was a slew of them back in the 50's which are classics yet we still make them and we still love them and want more.

how many helpless women who turn out to be the heroines with some especially awesome power that saves mankind.......LOTS.

how many worlds are going to crash into ours while only a handful of survivors leave and repopulate the world that either followed it or preceded it......LOTS.

there is no plagarism for if there was there would be no artistry in movies, books, etc.
Good news

As you say, many stories are either a sequel, a prequel, or a twist, and just because Alien Invasion was done in War of the Worlds, it does not deny that scenario from ever being used again, in all but an identical manner.

That's the answer I was looking for.

Many times I find myself (in my writings)(scribblings?) wandering into territory that is familiar, and the guilt hits hard. I realize there would be no variety if there was only one brand of everything, and copy write-ism locked down "Noah's Ark" to only one of each animal.


Limits on imagination is unthinkable ! The "Pre-Crime Division" of the "Dream Police" does not yet exist. I hope & pray it never does.
I think the most important point in determining plagarism is "can the main premise of one film be confused for the main premise of another"? I mean, tons of films are going to share similar themes - there's lots of "guy loses his girl" movies, for example... but nobody is confusing "Moulin Rouge" with "Casablanca". It's really about having a new take on an old theme. However, when two movies have the SAME take (or very, very similar takes), then the question of plagarism comes in.

It's a big grey area, that's for sure - but then, so is art in general!