Every so often, someone will tell me a story. It's usually a stranger than fiction gem that they probably didn't think was so fantastic at the time it happened to them.
For example, someone once told me about their experiences on someone's Ostrich farm. Well, they posted the thing on a forum and I thought, what a waste of a story. You should have written that thing up, polished it, and found a magazine to publish that in.
Because I find stories like that really fascinating. Because even though it didn't happen to me, I realize it could happen and that somehow broadens my horizons. And it's not like the person who told me the story desperately needs my approval or attention. They were just telling me about something that happened in their lives.
An example that leads me to this blog is this. I was working at Rite Aid ages ago and this customer tells me a story about how his cat liked to drink beer straight from the mug.
And I thought, what a typical cat behavior. I could see in my mind, this cat leaning over the arm of the chair, just lapping up the beer like there's nothing unusual about it.
So I told the customer, "You know, you really need to get a video of that and put it on Youtube. If that thing doesn't land a million hits I'd be surprised."
Later on I thought, well, what am I doing? If someone saw a painting of that they'd think it was funny and cool.
So of course, later that weekend, I did a painting of a cat drinking beer, just as I described it. Some kid watched me, (because I liked to take my paint supplies to the park when the weather was nice) and laughed. Just the reaction I wanted.
Alas, that painting has gone into limbo. (IE, the owner of the establishment where it was hanging insisted it "disappeared") But the point still remains, it was a good story and I jumped on the chance to profit from it, at least in spirit. (Though financially profiting would have been great too.)
I guess my question is this. If someone tells you a story like that and they don't have the sense to try to turn it into something big, is it right for you and I to take advantege of it? It's not technically plagiarism, because again, they didn't write it down. All they did was tell me the story.
What do you think?
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