Remix Culture Is About The Culture As Much As The Remix

from the killing-culture dept

Over the weekend, I finally got to watch the film Copyright Criminals (after having seen clips and a discussion about the film at the Fair Use Film Screening put on by Public Knowledge back in January). I have to admit, the film was pretty depressing. While it may seem like I pick on lawyers a fair amount, I actually tend to like most lawyers I meet -- but I don't know quite how they did it, but every lawyer who showed up in that film just seemed to ooze smarmy. They appeared to smirk through their interviews, as if they knew what they were saying was ridiculous, and the whole thing was all about getting as much money as possible, rather than having anything to do with fairness or creating art. Meanwhile, the actual content creators -- they seemed pretty much defeated. They had worked on amazingly innovative and cool projects that had nothing to do with "copying", and everything to do with creating beautiful new works of art that people loved. And they got sued and shut down over and over again. It's a shame. But not just because of the art that wasn't created, but the potential to connect culturally through it.

This is a point that often gets overlooked in these discussions -- that art is about more than the creator. We've tangentially discussed this idea in the past, but Julian Sanchez put together a little video last week that does a nice job demonstrating this in about eight minutes:
What he points out is that for culture to matter, it goes beyond the artwork itself, to the people who experience the artwork and then share it with others -- thereby connecting with each other and the artwork itself. And while people sit back and claim that remixing is "stealing" or "lazy" or "not art" at all, that's totally missing the point. Art is not about just the creator. Without the shared experience, it's a lot less valuable -- and what we've done with copyright laws is make it that much more difficult to share that experience through our own eyes and our own cultural views. And if you don't see the shame in that, then you're missing a lot.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Feb 8th, 2010 @ 10:50am

    I really, really would love to spend a night with my neighbor's truly hot (ex-model) wife, but social norms, my respect for him, the law, and a whole bunch of other things makes that impossible.

    "And if you don't see the shame in that, then you're missing a lot. "

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 8th, 2010 @ 11:00am

      Re:

      Haha, wow, you're just grasping at straws now, huh?

       

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      Michael, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 11:00am

      Re:

      Your response does not make a lot of sense. Perhaps you should stop looking at your neighbor's wife and read the article.

       

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      AJ, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 11:02am

      Re:

      WTH? Just when I think I'm starting to get your angle.... you go and drop this crazy crap .....

       

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 8th, 2010 @ 11:26am

      Re:

      The law prevents you from nailing your neighbor's wife? What crazy Sharia nation do you live in, anyway?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 11:37am

      Re:

      I think there are some more important reasons that it is impossible. I mean, who would want to spend a night would try to do everything backwards?

       

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      Anti-Mike is a moron, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 11:49am

      Re: Moh Oh Oh Ron.

      Another fine example of why you only deserve mockery, almost as interestingly retarded as "Dirt is dry water".

      You should try to think instead of just puking out words.

      Actually, no, don't, it will hurt your brain when you realize how fucking dumb you are and you'll suffer.

       

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        The Anti-Mike (profile), Feb 8th, 2010 @ 3:23pm

        Re: Re: Moh Oh Oh Ron.

        Another fine example of why you only deserve mockery, almost as interestingly retarded as "Dirt is dry water".

        So sad that you missed the point. I will say that the land under many of the houses in San Fran, you know, "dirt" pretty much turned to water during the last earthquake. I have a feeling that is just out of your trolling grasp.

        As for my comments here, the intent is to point out that there are plenty of things that we would like to do in life that would make us happy, but to do them we have to displease others or break the law. I am sure I would have a good time, but to do it I would have to break moral restrictions and risk the legal implications on their marriage, etc.

        Just because it's possible doesn't mean it is right.

         

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          RD, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 4:18pm

          Re: Re: Re: Moh Oh Oh Ron.

          "So sad that you missed the point."

          You say this EVERY time as if its everyone ELSE'S FAULT for not "getting it." Since almost NO one seems to get your points, perhaps you should MAKE BETTER POINTS. The problem, it would seem, is you.

          "I will say that the land under many of the houses in San Fran, you know, "dirt" pretty much turned to water during the last earthquake. I have a feeling that is just out of your trolling grasp."

          Wow do you even UNDERSTAND the processes that cause that sort of situation? Its not like the dirt just suddenly released some massive amount of PENT UP WATER or something. The water doesnt come FROM the dirt. The quake shakes so hard the dirt essentially loses cohesion (that means, it doesnt stick together anymore and becomes porus (that means things pass through it)) and the water MOVES THROUGH this with less resistance, saturating the area. The water comes from SOMEWHERE ELSE. It didnt "turn" to water.

          You are incredibly stupid, really.

           

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            Henry Emrich, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 5:20pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Moh Oh Oh Ron.

            You expect TAM (or, more accurately, who/whatever is behind that particular sock-puppet), to actually UNDERSTAND something?

            And here I thought You'd been reading what It posts. I'm actually kinda disappointed that, after all this time, you'd still entertain even the merest fantasy of that sort.

            After all, according to TAM, not even the notional "expiration" of copyright should count as an end to the monopoly. They can just "claw" the cultural "product" back, by re-monopolizing it, at whim.

            I used to think TAM was probably a paid corporate shill, but now I'm not so sure, if for no other reason than you'd think corporate front-groups would use somebody who could actually formulate coherent statements of principle.

            Yet more TAM-fail. *yawn*.

             

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              The Anti-Mike (profile), Feb 8th, 2010 @ 5:38pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moh Oh Oh Ron.

              After all, according to TAM, not even the notional "expiration" of copyright should count as an end to the monopoly. They can just "claw" the cultural "product" back, by re-monopolizing it, at whim.

              BULLSHIT!

              Quit putting lies in my mouth.

              I answered all of your questions on that before. If something is still under copyright and copyright is extended, it remains under copyright. If something had gone to the public domain, it should stay in the public domain, even if copyright is extended after the fact.

              My opinion of you just got lower again. Quit making stuff up about me.

               

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          Dementia (profile), Feb 8th, 2010 @ 5:48pm

          Re: Re: Re: Moh Oh Oh Ron.

          Having been through one significant, and several not significant quakes, while I will admit the ground certainly rolled like the ocean, I never sank in to it like I would have water.

           

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          robin, Feb 9th, 2010 @ 5:28am

          Re: Re: Re: Moh Oh Oh Ron.

          As for my comments here, the intent is to point out....


          as any well-versed pr/lobbyist/shill professional will note, your point is to disrupt, derail, create turbulence. constructive discussion has nothing to do with your mission.

          hearteningly, this community is surely beginning to just talk past your baiting as inevitably happens to such persistent agitators.

           

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          General, May 19th, 2010 @ 2:06am

          Re: Re: Re: Moh Oh Oh Ron.

          The problem with your reasoning is that no one was displeased with sampling untill someone come up with the idea of making money of it.

          So to use your analogy it would go more like this: You sleep with your neighbors wife. He finds out and figures, let me make a quick buck of it, and tells you to pay him every time you sleep with his wife. He then Aquires the schedule of other pretty women near by and sells them for some cash while their hubbies are out working. Now he is making all the cash and it's not even his wife anymore.

           

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    Peter (profile), Feb 8th, 2010 @ 11:03am

    culture as our common touchstone

    Mike -- what you say is true at so many levels that it bears emphasis again and again in order to fight the knee-jerk impulse people have to identify cultural creations as "property" and thereby equate them to real estate or cars or something. Beside the rather large fact that property rights are limited in all sorts of ways in order to advance social goals (you can't have a pig farm in the middle of a suburb, you can't paint your house fuschia in most places, and the government can take your property if it pays you a fair (and rather low) price for it, etc.), that knee-jerk reaction entirely ignores how cultural creations draw (and must draw) on existing cultural creations, and how those creations then achieve meaning in the social sphere and are used to convey meaning in the social sphere. When Men at Work "quoted" "Kookabura Sits in the Old Gum Tree" in "Down Under," they were using it as a shorthand and easily understood (even unconsciously understood) reference to Australia (because Kookabura is so indisputably Australian), not as a means of exploiting the value that the original creators of Kookabura had sought to exploit. That decision is so, so wrong, and I expect it to be overturned, but it's a perfect example of the disconnect between looking at copyrighted works as THINGS and looking at them as pieces of an ever evolving culture that we use to communicate and make art out of.

     

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      AJ, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 11:04am

      Re: culture as our common touchstone

      Amen!

       

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      anguyen43, Feb 10th, 2010 @ 12:50pm

      Re: culture as our common touchstone

      Real Estate, cars, and "something" are cultural creations as well. Everyone derives inspiration from everything around them, regardless of whether they can physically take chunks of it and incorporate it into their own art or just simply use the feeling they got from looking/touching/experiencing the thing. I'm having difficulty distinguishing between a car and piece of music besides the fact that one is physical and the other isn't. One might need to explain that one to me.

      Property rights are limited (you can actually have a pig farm in the middle of a suburb and you can paint your house fuschia ONLY IF the developer/owner of the suburb lets you; and welll... the government can do anything), but so is copyright, i.e. fair use, parody, and public domain allows others to use copies of the work.

      People decide how they interpret things and draw inspiration from them. But that doesn't mean that if I wanted to create something from the Mona Lisa that I should be able to grab it, cut it up and turn it into a t-shirt. I agree with TAM to the extent that simply because we can, doesn't mean we should.

      Copyright, for me, is not about exploiting a monopoly, but protecting the integrity of the work and the artist. Compulsory licenses allow others to re-record songs while paying royalties to the original songwriter. Other than that, artists should be able to have the right to refuse to have their music be in a shitty hipster 80's fan video (with all due respect, of course). If an artist could not be guaranteed that their art won't be used in some gay-bashing, Nazi-promoting film, what kind of silencing effect would that have on the creative community? If I couldn't control the way my art is presented to the world, then what do I really have?

      What I got from the video is that those who want their copyrighted works to be used by fans and by others can do so, just give them permission. In regards to music, it's the labels who typically do not want others to use music in fear of hurting their profit margin and they're trying to use copyright to do it. It's not working. We need to shift away from the idea that copyright is to intended to be used to protect profit margins, but to protect artists and their works, in addition to foster a growing creative society.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 11:11am

    See, copyright is hampering the ability of artists to mutate known artistic work. So instead, they have to make mutant forms of expression in order to be original, which is fantastic, it's just that everyone has to do this. Instead of building upon the recent culture with different forms of new culture we have new yet highly dysfunctional forms of expression. Which is great, but, starts to look very foreign and very alien very quickly. Which is great, it's just that now the oldsters and the squares have nothing to compare it to. Nothing to find comfort in. All forms of art are going to get very weird in this here century. Thanks copyright laws! Thanks for scaring the crap out of grandpa. Mark my words!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 11:27am

    First link is a bad URL

     

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    mrharrysan (profile), Feb 8th, 2010 @ 12:37pm

    It's been said here before, but some of the greatest works of classical music, literature, and art could not have been created in today's copyright constrained environment because they were derivative and transformative of existing works.

     

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    Hulser (profile), Feb 8th, 2010 @ 12:54pm

    All art is infringement

    They appeared to smirk through their interviews, as if they knew what they were saying was ridiculous, and the whole thing was all about getting as much money as possible, rather than having anything to do with fairness or creating art.

    The lawyers were bad enough. After all, a lawyer's job in most cases it about getting as much money as possible. What really drove me nuts was the guy that sounded like he was some kind of record producer who equated sampling with unoriginal copying. If anyone can do it, as he claimed, why isn't everyone doing it? The simple answer is that many people try and few actually produce an end product that people want to here. Do I think that MC Hammer and Sean Combs are the most original artists out there? No, but they made something that had a good beat and was easy to dance too. And that counts for a lot.

     

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    :), Feb 8th, 2010 @ 12:55pm

    Social Change vs Sony

    http://themediawonk.com/2010/02/04/alarm-bells-come-too-late-for-sony-pictures/

    Apparently Sony will discard a lot of employees in America(the big pirate hub of the world), the home entertainment and IT divisions will bear the brunt.

    Funny thing though, even with record income they still will lose money.

    The shift in consumer behavior toward rental? That was a function of wholesale pricing and the consumers’ perception of value, which are entirely under the studios’ control. If 40,000 supermarkets in America were selling new release DVDs for $8.99 by the checkout counter, how many consumers do you think would be lining up at the Redbox kiosk in the parking lot? How many supermarkets do you think would let Redbox on the premises?


    I'm not weeping for Sony.

     

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    Rob, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    Copyright Criminals License

    I thought I'd like to see Copyright Criminals so I went to the web site. I can buy the DVD for about $25. I'd do that if I could share it with others of like mind ... so I looked for what license it is be sold under. Finding none I have to assume it's the same "no public performance" provision.

    We show movies at our church, for which we have bought a blanket license. If "Copyright Criminals" had listed a non-commercial public performance license on their web site, I might have bought a copy and set up a screening with an announcement on MeetUp.

    You'd think that based on the subject of the film, they might have thought to provide a more liberal (and easy to find) license.

    Oh well ... I'm moving on.

    Peace,

    Rob:-]

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 8th, 2010 @ 1:32pm

      Re: Copyright Criminals License

      I thought I'd like to see Copyright Criminals so I went to the web site. I can buy the DVD for about $25. I'd do that if I could share it with others of like mind ... so I looked for what license it is be sold under. Finding none I have to assume it's the same "no public performance" provision.


      Yeah, the filmmaker explained why they went a more traditional route in his talk. I don't remember the exact reason, but I think it had to do with the effort to get it shown on PBS (yes, this is silly).

      But if you are looking for films of that nature that do have permissive licenses, check out Rip: A Remix Manifesto:

      http://www.ripremix.com/

      It's really well done.

       

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