A message about copyright…

Today I watched this video, RIP A Remix Manifesto for my ECMP 355 class. As a part of our tech task we were given a variety of questions to respond to after viewing the film.

Do you think that if you manipulate an existing song enough you can eventually claim it as your own creation? Where do you draw the line between copying and creating? 

What a loaded question! Before watching this film, I honestly would have probably said no, you can not claim the individual components of a remix as your own. They were created by another artist, you are just recycling them. However, I am not so sure that I believe that anymore. After all, these remix artist engage in the creative process and make something new, out of something old. I would suggest “citing” these artist if it wasn’t so costly! The video made a great point, we always use quotes from authors in writing, we reference them, and no one blinks an eye. We certainly don’t pay Mark Tawin every time someone quotes him! Why then are we expected to pay musicians and filmmakers for referencing their work? We live in a world (by we I am referring to the people of the western world) that is money hungry, and running on a business model. The intent of copyright laws have been warped to make the rich, richer and unfortunately, in this situation, to criminalize a generation of creators. (Lawrence Lessig spoke to the idea of piracy and what it means for children and the future you can watch his TED talk here, its worth your time!) So where do we draw the line between copying and creating? In the video, it is suggested that people view this as a “moral dilemma.” I think this is because even though people believe in sharing, mashing, remixing, and creating.. they also believe in their duties to follow the law and to be a good citizen. So I think the question we need to address is not where to draw the line, but WHEN do we take a stand? At what point do we stand up to the government, and demand change? We have the right to do that, it is possible (Have you seen all the buzz around Kony 2012? I ordered my action kit today!) So, do I think that if you manipulate a song enough you can claim it as your own creation? Yes! Claim it as a remix… people know that it is just that.. a REMIX, a combination of different songs.. and YOU made it.

Just hours after watching the RIP video, I came across this blog on twitter. It talks about the copyright issues with my newest addiction.. pintrest. “According to the company’s terms of service, when a user pins something, she is claiming to be the “sole and exclusive owner” of that content, and she is granting Pinterest the right to use it on their website.”As I was reading this I panicked! Have I been doing something illegal….wait… I just said I believed that remixing was ok, so why I am freaking out now? “The problem, quite simply, is that Pinterest encourages users to do something potentially illegal without them ever knowing it, all the while absolving itself of any responsibility.” This hit close to home, this is the exact same issue only now.. its relevant to me. Hmm.. let me reconsider.

I believe that we should give credit where credit is due. It is based on that very principle that I buy my music, I reference works in assignments, and I link things in my blogs. So why am I OK with remix? Well, I think as consumers we recognize that a remix is art, we are giving credit to the artist for his arrangement, we don’t believe and we know that he didn’t record the original songs. We give credit to the artist who recorded the original songs when we are listening to them. I respect both art forms, and their creative processes. I consider a remix a new creation. We cannot easily “draw the line between copying and creating” in music, just as we cannot draw it easily in another aspect of life. All inspiration comes from somewhere…

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2 thoughts on “A message about copyright…

  1. Wow! What a great reflective post! I totally hear what you’re saying and don’t even know what to say because I sure feel the same. As a fellow blogger, I try my best to use due-diligence when it comes to linking and citing sources as well as when I am having my kids create a video in my communication media course. But the reality is that students have a hard time admitting that they aren’t doing illegal things at home as far as music downloading and mashing things together to create their projects. Hopefully as long as we are conscience of what we are modelling and what we are doing ourselves at home, this should keep us in the realm of legal! I love this post!

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