I was recently turned on to this documentary by Brett Gaylor, and it has been jogging my thoughts for days. It’s a great source of material for visual artists as well as musicians. Especially ones who find themselves collaging or drawing from others work and incorporating it in their own.
The premise of this video is centered around Girl Talk, and explores the complications he runs into with record label’s strict copyright laws. But Girl Talk isn’t the only focus; the film branches out covering a multitude of issues that are entangled in this escalating problem. They do a brief history on the development of the remix era and highlight some of the first songs that were remade or remixed. They also talk about Walt Disney being “sue” happy and over-protective of their characters, even though most of Disney’s story lines have other origins and were remakes themselves. Napster is also mentioned, along with interviews of single mothers, Pastors and children that were sued for illegally downloading songs from the site.
These Laws were instilled to make sure that the artists reap all royalties from their work. However, all of the money made in lawsuits goes straight to the label and is never seen by the artists that is supposedly being protected. Strangely enough there are so many legalities and things copyrighted that I didn’t even know you could copyright. One of the saddest realities is the copyright over scientific research and intellectual property. There are teams of scientists working on cures for diseases such as cancer and AIDS that have rights to all of the research. This means if other scientists would like to use part of their research to plug into a different equation prompting a different result, they can’t. So there are selfish scientists just sitting on life changing research when we could have potentially found cures. Knowledge should be celebrated and shared not hoarded.
I have a lot of thoughts about this documentary because it brings up many important points. It covers a topic that is steadily snowballing and effecting our new electronic generation. This film leaves you with an anxious feeling that our world is consistently becoming less free. Current culture always draws from the past and will continue too. People need to start embracing it and understand that nothing is original; we are one of the only species that has the ability to innovate and make things better faster and stronger. Most other species simply rely on instinct, never innovating their way of life. The human way of life is always improving and becoming more efficient because knowledge is passed down from prior generations. This inherited knowledge eventually becomes ingrained, entering the subconscious of the people evolving it to plain common sense.
Copyrighter’s original intention was to protect developing concepts and ideas generated by underdogs from capitalistic big companies. Now most copyrights are owned by these big companies and are used against average citizens.
The Past needs to stop trying to control the future and turn it into a communicative free place.I could continue on about this documentary because I appreciate its relevance and as a visual artist myself I run into similar problems. However, I need to shut up so you all can just watch for yourself and become enlightened on the complicated spider web of copyright laws. I think it can generate an interesting dialog, especially between people as passionate about music as you all. I hope you all are as outraged and inspired as I was.
Watch the documentary here at:
*About the Images*
I’ve been in the collage game for a minute but this article was a good kick in the ass to do a couple more fun paintings out of archival shit I had laying around…I’m not trying to get all Martha Stewart on you guys but its a good way to recycle old magazines and it’s fun to do with your friends ! . I had some Hustler magazines and some old national wildlife so I just made a couple visual mashups.