There has been so much talk lately about copyright (and copying) in my line of work. Some say as soon as you create a piece it's your design and nobody can copy it, not even the color combination or a single spiral. Others say you have to file a copyright or patent registration to have this claim. Still others say there's nothing new under the sun, so get used to multiple people doing the same thing, especially if the "original" artist is teaching that design to others.
I think it's okay to use techniques one sees others using, but not complex unique designs that other artists have developed. Admittedly, there tends to be a fine line between technique and unique. I also think credit should be given if an artist is inspired by someone else. I like Leah's (of Michon Jewelry) thoughts on the subject. Side note: I first found out about Leah from the Four Seasons of Jewelry project. Each quarter of the year, wire artists sign up for this challenge to post a piece of jewelry each week (theme optional). It gives them accountability, knowing that others are expecting to see new and different ideas each week. I think it's fun to read what other jewelry artists have to say about their creative process.
I've had similar experiences to Leah's - working for hours on a new piece that came to me in a dream, even taking step-by-step notes in case I want to publish instructions, only to find something eerily (and annoyingly) similar in the next issue of Step By Step Wire. My days of wanting to be cutting-edge are through, and I'm happy to just make what I like and not worry about trying to be known for my style or being the first to publish new designs.