Recognizing a Writer’s Work by Christine Duncan

I had an argument with a Meme presenter the other day. The meme was a video and it was beautiful. It was about love. It was a synopsis of The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. I objected as no where on the meme was there any recognition of that fact. And I was pretty blunt. I said he had ripped off a classic.

The videographer played it coy at first. It wasn’t ripping something off to share the meme. It was what the meme was meant for. When I clarified that I felt he should have given attribution to O. Henry, he said that most people, except for the very young, would know that was the story’s origin so it wasn’t necessary.

When I persisted, saying that as a writer, I wanted to make sure that the author’s work was recognized and he should tag it, he called me ridiculous. I couldn’t let it go. If it was such a little thing, then how hard was it to put, “Based on the work of O. Henry” on the meme?

O. Henry is long dead. The story is probably not under copyright any more but I’m tired of this. If you do any other work, you expect recognition of it. And you are paid. If you are a writer, you are ridiculous for wanting that. So people attribute quotes to the character that spoke them, or the actor that played the part, not to the writer who wrote the lines. Or, they’ll say something like, “someone once said, Blah, blah blah.”

Someone didn’t just blurt this stuff out. A writer sat down and worked. That writer should get recognition.


2 responses to “Recognizing a Writer’s Work by Christine Duncan

  1. Whether or not most people would be aware of the source (and I would guess most people under about 40 years old would NOT) is irrelevant to the question of attribution being an appropriate thing. Since it’s relatively easy to supply that information, it’s to the benefit of not only the writer but the reader also to do so, and I can’t see the downside of doing so.

  2. Me either, Susan. But now I wonder how many such memes are floating around with the author unrecognized.

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