Copyright or Copyleft? “RIP: A Remix Manifesto”

“RIP: A Remix Manifesto” is a film about the copyright industry and the issues about people sharing and changing content, especially music. The film follows the artist “Girl Talk” who is known for taking popular songs and mashing and remixing them into completely different songs, the question is, is he infringing copyright laws or has he simply written his own song? The short answer is yes he is definitely infringing copyright, so maybe the question is are the copyright laws wrong or is their protection of artists and thier songs justified?

One of his mixes “Feed the Animals”

At first you most people would think that of course the copyright laws are justified, surely? I mean the artist has spent a lot of time and effort in their song/film and they deserve for no one else to profit from their work. This seems like the obvious answer until you look at the original reason for copyright and its original intention towards authors/artists/directors. When writers were not getting rights to their own work, just after the first printing press was brought in, it meant that they had no motivation to continue writing, therefore the Statute Of Anne was brought in giving the writer all the rights to their work for 14 years. This meant that, they were encouraged to write but after a while their work can be re-imagined or improved on. I know that it hasn’t been  14 years since a lot of the music “Girl Talk” is remixing was produced but the point being made is that the original copyright law wasn’t designed to stop the innovation or change of another piece or art/music/literature, but to help it develop. As time has gone on the the validity period of the copyright has been extended from 14 years to now, the authors lifetime plus 70, a dramatic change from the original.

One of the main companies that are highlighted in the film as taking advantage of the copyright law to aid in there domination of a market is Disney. Walt Disney, the creator of the Disney company originally took old stories that had expired copyright and re-imagined them for the audience of the time, thus taking advantage of the old copyright law that allowed innovation and development. However after his death and massive success of the company, they had the law changed so that copyright maintained until 70 years after the authors death so that it will be a very long time till anyone will be allowed to touch any of the original Disney work, giving them complete control of the empire they had built up.

The film highlights the unseen darker side to Disney

The film states that copyright has gone too far in the way of protecting the creators of art and that the current law needs to change. The other side of this argument is that, especially in the music industry, the artists have taken a lot of time, money and effort into creating their song so why should people be allowed their music for free? I can understand this side of the argument because most people who are downloading free music are not using it to remix and re-create but simply because they do not want to pay for it, I feel that the film does not address this side of the argument and simply portrays the entire music industry as evil and greedy. This may be true but does not deter from the intentions of the downloading audience.

Overall the film makes an excellent statement and a very good point that has made me think of the entire business of copyright and its purpose. Obviously it takes a very one-sided view and does not address some of the positive sides to the law that many artists have been defending. I now think that the law definitely needs to be changed to allow for remix and development of ideas, but not be abolished completely as this would send the entire entertainment industry into mayhem and ruin it for good.

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