The Wall Street Journal:
All good things come to an end. By 1970, the beloved Beatles had decided to go their separate ways.
Within a year, George Harrison reached No. 1 with a solo song, “My Sweet Lord.” But his sweet time at the top was short-lived. Within a month, a lawsuit was filed. Harrison’s song had original lyrics, but shared a melody and harmony with the 1963 hit song by the Chiffons, “He’s So Fine.”
Was the Beatles’ lead guitarist guilty of plagiarism?
The psychologist Dan Gilbert calls this kleptomnesia: generating an idea that you believe is novel, but in fact was created by someone else. It’s accidental plagiarism, and it’s all too common in creative work.
In a classic demonstration, psychologists Alan Brown and Dana Murphy invited people to brainstorm in groups of four. They took turns generating lists of sports, musical instruments, clothes, or four-legged animals. Each participant generated four ideas from each category. Next, the participants were asked to write down the four ideas that they personally generated for each category.
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