Today I heard an interesting quote (over pizza) from my good friend Cale. In regard to copyright he says, I believe works should be free as in speech, but not as in beer. What does that mean? I ask with prosciutto hanging out of my mouth. It turns out that it means he holds the belief that people shouldn’t have the right to distribute others’ content for free, but that once someone has bought a work they can have free reign with it. Apparently this is a belief touted by “the copy left,” a group of people who believe copyright law stifles creativity and stalls advances in art. A big topic, sure, but It was exactly what I wanted to hear today.
This all came up because I just made a new mashup last night (Katy Perry vs. Coldplay) and when I tried to post it to youtube it got BLOCKED because they detected that there was copyrighted material in the video. Give me a break. DJs work to promote the music that they love, not to decrease sales for the original artists (or gatekeepers). And in this scenario I have made a new product, it’s taken from found materials, yes, but it is arguably more, and different than the original. But youtube blocked it, so instead my boyfriend posted the video on his vimeo account and we blew it up all over facebook from there. Problem solved.
There’s a mashup party based out of San Francisco that absolutely adore, called Bootie. It’s an awesome site, with a pirate as their mascot, and I have gone to every New York party they have thrown except for one. I’ve been following their blog for about 3-4 years, so long that I have no memory of who introduced me to it, or how I found them. Nevertheless, despite the long time we’ve spent together it was only recently that Bootie + Pirate came together in my mind to form the realization: oh! pirated, like music! because mashing up is potentially a violation of copyright.
I argue: Violation, but not defamation.
A few weeks ago I attended an Off Broadway show called 3C, by a playwright named David Adjimi. The stage show lifts characters and environments directly from the show 3′s company, apparently with the intention of mocking past eras for their homophobia and racism. Now the TV series is suing the production for defaming the show and it’s characters. Defamation is a weird thing, because couldn’t I right editorial after editorial describing how I thought a show was terrible? I’m defaming it then, but for some reason it’s different if you use names and text from the original work. 3C was definitely painting the 3′s company characters in an unappealing light (although I had never seen the TV series before), but there’s no conclusive proof that this could actually be damaging to the franchise. I read later that the TV series people were also planning a stage show and that their complaint was mostly focused on perceived damage to this specific project.
Now, I ask you: is remix culture defaming original pop? no way. I wonder why Youtube and Soundcloud can’t look studios in the face and say “get real”. Studios: I can’t understand why you’re not excited that people are blowing your stuff up all over the internet.
I’m not really in the mood to rant, but I’ve been increasingly interested in copyright conversation recently. For about the past year it’s been one of my favorites, ever since a NPR (or something) sparked it as an interest of mine.
Below is the video my boyfriend made to accompany the mashup. Comments on the work, or the morality are welcomed.