Imitation is often the first thing many people do to understand how something works, such as a painting, story or machine. It’s often considered a form of flattery when someone finds out their work’s been imitated, but it can become an insult when an imitation is used to pass off as an original work.
Imitation has a fine line between acceptable scholarly practice and criminal forgery. Here’s what you should know:
Imitation or stealing
When someone attempts to copy something and pass it off as the real deal, it’s often considered a forgery. Forgery is typically used as an intent to defraud or deceive someone. There is a long history in the art world of people creating forged paintings and sculptures as their own, but forgery isn’t exclusive to art.
For example, nearly every year, a child comes home asking for their parent’s signature to go on a school field trip or to show they received their report card. Some kids work around their parents by simply copying their parents’ signatures. While a copied signature may not get a kid into legal trouble, they’ll likely be punished by their teacher and parents alike.
Like above, a forged signature may be used to give someone unauthorized access to information or finances. Likewise, people may attempt to alter or amend existing legal documents for some kind of gain and deception. Or, people may forge identification paperwork as a form of identity theft.
Some forms of forgery take years to uncover, while others may be so blatantly a copy that it’s a surprise that the forger wasn’t caught sooner. A forgery can lead to serious criminal charges. If you’re accused of forgery, then you may need to know your legal rights.