Plagiarism claims have been directed at British stealth artist, Banksy, by the author of a zine who claims a lengthy quote attributed to Banksy in his 2004 book, Cut It Out, was largely based on an essay written in 1999. The author Sean Tejaratchi has recently blogged that most of the quote, which went viral over the internet and is also attributed to Banksy on Wikiquotes, was “swiped directly from an essay I wrote in 1999, in the “Death, Phones, Scissors” issue of my zine Crap Hound.”
Tejaratchi included the corresponding excerpts and writes, “The first paragraph is more or less original, but the rest is mine, right down to the same words and phrases. See for yourself. Here’s the Banksy quote followed by the relevant part of my essay as it appeared in Crap Hound. Pink indicates indirect references, and yellow shows the direct swipes.”
Plagiarism is a damning accusation, and while Tejaratchi never actually uses the ‘P’ word he makes it clear that he believes the thoughts/words were “swiped directly” from his original work. However, he opts for the “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” perspective. He writes, “I like Banksy’s art and ideas. I’m flattered he liked my writing and my sentiments, and I’m happy others liked the quote enough to post and forward.”
He writes, “My goal is to set the record straight online. There will be no lawyers or threats of legal action.” Now Tejaratchi faces the problem of trying to get in touch with an anonymous person. Not that Banksy would even be that interested in offering an apology or an explanation for the apparent quote “swipe”. After all, this is an artist whose whole satirical oeuvre has relied heavily on appropriated imagery from a large chunk of different sources.
There’s a big difference between inserted intellectual property into anonymous public art pieces and not attributing quotes to the correct author for a commercial project, like the book Cut It Out. Sean Tejaratchi is handling himself in an impressively chilled (and, understandably, passive-aggressive) way.
Stay tuned for Banksy’s reply.