So, I've been reading a few blogs lately, ranging from the blocky skins, to fake pixel art, Hell, even the Hunger Games servers. Every single one of them touches on the idea of originality. Most know where they're coming from, but many don't know what is acceptable.
Originality is the aspect of created or invented works by as being new or novel, and thus can be distinguished from reproductions, clones, forgeries, or derivative works. An original work is one not received from others nor one copied based on the work of others. It is a work created with a unique style and substance. The term "originality" is often applied as a compliment to the creativity of artists, writers, and thinkers. The idea of originality was invented by Romanticism, with a notion that is often called romantic originality.
Given this description, one would consider many things now to be derivative works of some nature. I'd go into the laws pertaining to it, but it's best to stick with what applies here, to PMC and the creative community as a whole.
Derivative work is basically taking a pre-existing idea or work and basing your work on it. For example: you take a character from a popular anime series and make a skin from it, basing its likeness and features to match the character as close as possible. The work itself is done from scratch, so originality applies. Legally it's still considered derived work.
Another example would be that of a remixed skin. This form of derived work displays the apparent lack of effort in comparison to other skins. Often remixes range from the obvious to the indeterminable (whereupon it becomes judged that there's been enough effort to disguise the fact, it appears to be a completely new skin anyway). Then there are the ones that are completely made from scratch, but the subject material is that there are only a few ways they can be represented, they do end up looking very similar, thus creating the appearance of plagiarism, albeit unintentional. e.g. Link, Ezio, Master Chief etc.
The general rule for Originality here is that you, the creator, did it yourself without any means of third party duplication from other sources.
So why are there rarely any truly original pieces of work around, not just in PMC, but the world in general? One would consider that we've merely come to a point where there is nothing new to think of, given our current situation. Some might say more exploration would lead to more original thinking, However in any given situation, we would normally recall past experience to deal with a new problem, adjusting to fit. No evolution, just adaptation. Humans have been doing that for thousands of years.
Getting back on track, why do we pick things, be it anime, video games or real world as our muses, our inspirations? Because we want to. Whether it's because we like the subject matter very much or figure that it's a popular subject material that you know other people will like and want. Whatever the case may be, we do it because we want to.
Essentially, even if it's based on something else, if you didn't place all the pixels, blocks or words by hand, you're faking it, bro.