The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Nothing is given to man. In order to survive, he must produce. He must shape the crude materials of earth to suit his purpose, bend them to his individual need. And here man faces his basic alternative: he can survive in only one of two ways—through the independent work of his own mind, or as a parasite fed from the mind of others.

Several weeks ago, when an Internet meme swept the nation, we believed we were presented with the work of an individual creator, a prime mover from whom the imperative “Do the Harlem shake” had risen like the first tall building to punctuate the sky. Now we know that the song’s purported creator, a DJ known as Baauer, is a man of borrowed vision. He is a second hander, feeding from the work of others.

But just as man cannot borrow parts of his body and a building cannot borrow hunks of its soul, a song cannot borrow parts of its track—at least not without paying for it. We now know, thanks to yesterday’s New York Times, that Baauer borrowed the work of two men, Hector Delgado and Jayson Musson, without seeking their permission. Two men, whose voices can clearly be heard in the song, toiled in obscurity only to have their work released under another’s name. They are now seeking compensation—insomuch an any man can be compensated by another—from Baauer’s label, Mad Decent.

To Baauer and all the other parasites who would feed from others in the name of collaboration, I say that the mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective mind, collective thought—there is no such thing as collective creation. To borrow is to rob, to sample is to steal, to mash up is to mash the individual soul of man into an indistinguishable pulp of mediocrity. Creators are not beggars, artists are not altruists. Recognize them for their achievements and pay them for their work.