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Thursday, October 23, 2008

If you're a new or irregular visitor to this blog, only discovering it during the strike [and if you're still here, thank you], you may not know that The Trail is a large supporter of the Copyfight at home and abroad.

Basically, I have a problem with the ways corporations and content owners try to tell you what to do with culture. I get testy when art gets commodified like that. Or maybe I just have a problem when iTunes tells me I can only put a song I paid for on five computers or burned CDs. If I can buy a CD and rip it as many times as I want, screw you for trying to limit how I use the digital equivalent.

See, I'm not always happy with Steve Jobs.

One of the more fascinating and amazing aspects of the copyfight is the art of the remix. Don't think of this just when someone puts a techno beat behind a Britney Spears song. Remixing involves creating something new from something old, however that may be. Of course, content owners have a problem with this, even though most people who remix are amateurs and aren't looking to make any money off the project anyway, they do it just for the sake of creation. So the entertainment industry likes to threaten legal action on anyone who makes something out of copyrighted material.

Do you understand how messed this is? Remember that guy who re-edited footage from The Shining to make it look like an uplifiting family drama? Would never happen. DJ Earworm, one of the best mashup artists I've ever encountered would be sued into oblivion, and would never have made his incredible Radiohead/Kanye masterpiece [among many others]. Remember when sampling first came under fire from the record industry, for taking an original recording and reorganizing or combining it with other recordings to make something brand new? This is not thievery, this is creation. It's like the lumber company who sells me a 2'x4' telling me I can only use it to make toothpicks. Ludicrous.

American academic Lawrence Lessig has discussed issues like this for years, but his recent book is dedicated to this issue specifically [aptly titled 'Remix'], and has joined my 'Book Pile of Epic Height' currently scattered abouts my shelves.

In a serendipitous move, my man D.Bresson sent me the link to a documentary on these issues, by EyeSteelFilm. Seen in the clip include author and blogger Cory Doctorow [a guy who regularly gives away his books online] and Lessig himself. Check it out....



Fight the good fight, Windsor.

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