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Tag Archives: mashup

“Mashup Conclusion” (TDMC Remix)

Music and video mashups continue to proliferate in this digital age.  Proprietary laws which protect artists and their affiliated companies from having their material stolen or used without their permission will continue to be criticized and circumvented by other artists.  With such acclaimed artists like DJ Danger Mouse and Girl Talk who have left their mark on mashup culture, I believe that we will continue see more and more artists like these in the future.

Hopefully, businesses will continue to adapt to these cultural changes and work towards a compromise or better solution instead of simply just continuing to tighten or extend the years of proprietary laws.  The current model of copyright laws are based off of greed, control, and exclusion benefiting more of the companies than the individual artists.  On one hand, artists should have rights to protect their works and the incentive of financial gain if anyone wishes to use it.  However, the prices to which other artists or individuals must pay in order to sample or use one’s material is too high.  As a result of these outrageous fees, individuals will continue to challenge and circumvent the systems in place with the risk of being sued.  However, the question remains – are companies going to sue everyone or just those who they feel are extensively profiting off of their material?  Is it just a matter of ethics or a matter of money?

“Everyone has access [to content]. Enforcement is a global problem. It is a practical problem, because of the reach of where the content might appear.  Finding [infringed copyrighted content] is harder.  One issue the law has to deal with is this new sense of a user ‘right’, referring to that of mashup creators.  User-generated mashups are changing the face of copyright laws, which have to evolve to catch up with the Internet generation.  Laws need a way to catch up with changing culture.  This could be in a greater recognition by the courts of the social use of user expression, or legislative change.  On the part of businesses, having a solid online business model will help prevent broadcasters from taking down every use of their content.  Businesses should have a clear and robust revenue stream online. We’re not there yet.” Mary Wong, an expert on intellectual property (IP).

Music and Videos are data that have a code.  They can be sliced, spliced, edited, and mashed together to get an entirely different code.  Remixing or mashing up the code in one’s own unique way allows a person to potentially enrich the value of the existing program.  While artists can conjure up their rights to “Fair Use” = an exemption in U.S. copyright law that allows limited use of works under copyright without permission from the rights holders.   Parody, teaching, news reporting and commentary are some of the uses allowed under fair use, the stipulations under which one can use copyright material without the owner’s permission seems limited and weakly defined.  “Transformative works” need to be better defined.

Mashups will continue to challenge the system of copyright while copyleft and other alternatives challenge the traditional statues and ideologies.  One of the biggest downsides to this debate is the incentive for artists to create an original work and have someone take it without permission, recognition, or even payment.  Of course, this is extreme, however, defenders and advocates for mashup and remix culture will continue to push for a more open system.  Lastly, people need to recognize the significance that whole new genres have been birthed due to sampling, remixing, and mashups.  Consider this in a brief article by Grant Gross,

Artists shouldn’t face threats of huge fines and prison time for sampling from copyright works, said filmmaker Nina Paley, creator of the film “Sita Sings the Blues”, Paley, speaking at an event in Washington, D.C., called for a wholesale rewrite of copyright law to allow mashup artists to create new works without threat of lawsuits or prison time.  Paley’s 2008 film uses several songs from 1920s jazz singer Annette Hanshaw, and copyright holders demanded she pay US$220,000 for use of the works. Paley eventually settled for $50,000.

$220, 000 US dollars?  $50, 000 dollars?  Honestly, who can afford to pay money like this to use other people’s work?  I would argue that the average person cannot.  No wonder people are so vexed at the current proprietary system.  Peep the video.  Thanks.

Bonus listening: If you want to you can also listen to this song that I made using parts of a sermon by a Christian apologetic Ravi Zacharias and Common’s instrumental to his song “Resurrection”.  It took me a couple days to fit things together the way that I wanted to.  I can only imagine trying to fit together an a cappella  and an instrumental let alone put together a song using sampled-snippets of other songs.  Like hip-hop producer 9th Wonder exclaimed, it’s not as easy as it looks/sounds.  Enjoy.

Resurrection (Ravi Zacharias Remix)

Until next time, try not to get sued-  Clear your samples and get permission if you can afford it.  :)

Music/Video Mashups: What’s at Stake?

I apologize for the late post last week, here it was again in case you missed it>

One person’s copyright infringement is another person’s creative expression.” – Michela Ledwidge

Yesterday, when disco and hip-hop DJs of New York City were sampling different songs and weaving them together using different parts, instrumentals, vocal clips, and more, they originally had to acquire the vinyl record through legally purchasing it… unless someone was generous enough to give them the records that he or she did not want (Hunsicker, 2010).  Now a days, one can easily circumvent the economic laws of copyright and even purchasing property with the internet.  Peer-to-peer sharing and other video sites such as Youtube make viral proliferation of content and information easy as 1-2-3.  That being the case, copyright dilemmas have continued to grow in this digital age where consumers users are fighting back against the few, elite hegemonic powers and authorities who control so much of today’s intellectual and artistic content/property.

Furthermore, the economic system of music and online videos have greatly been affected by the popularity of music, file, and other video sharing websites.  This phenomenon has changed the way in which consumers people legally buy or illegally distribute music and other video content on the internet.  Besides, everyone is becoming their own DJ or mashup artist given the customizable playlists, sampling technologies, and other ways of individually tailoring someone else’s music to suit your own desires.  Hunsicker further asserts, “Not only is music more convenient to listen to, it also feels more personal, your own mix that you can be proud of.  With the right equipment, everyone can be a DJ.”

With regards to more or less music, artists like Girl Talk, DJ Danger Mouse, DJ Shadow, and many others have found Grey areas or ways to navigate outside the legal confines of copyright laws.  While there are those who would argue that these artists have infringed heavily upon copyright laws, others would defend them arguing that the very proprietary laws which protect certain artists, stifle other artists from re-appropriating it into something new.  Hunsicker proposes a comprise between copyrights and mashup artists:

What a mash-up artist is doing is taking DJing to a whole new level, they are creating entire new tracks, using pieces of a whole to create new songs.  There is an argument for a fair amount of creativity here, but the artist did not create each of the clips.  This is where there needs to be a compromise!  Laws need to be revised, so that a certain percentage of the royalties could be paid to the record companies, not in full, and so that the mash-up artist may be motivated to pay while still receiving individual benefits for his songs.

Okay, so what’s the big deal one might ask? What’s at stake?

“Basically, the music industry is slipping towards anarchy , and the record companies are trying to keep control of their revenue streams,” said Professor Sam Howard-Spink, professor of music copyright law at Steinhart School of Media, Culture, and Communications at New York University.  It has been widely accredited that the artist Girl Talk, a.k.a. Gregg Gillis, is a famous mash-up artist who uses an average of 21 music clips per song. If he paid, the cost would average $260,000 per song and $4.2 million per album according to “RiP: A Remix Manifesto.”

Where is the line drawn between mashups/remixing and stealing?  For many, the answer seems to lie in giving credit to the original.  Still, many would go further and ask for some sense of monetary compensation for using the original.  Obviously, being sued by someone for copyright infringement is the greatest risk at stake.  But then, how do artists like Girl Talk or DJ Danger Mouse find “legal loopholes” or ‘getting away’ with creating some of the most successful and acclaimed mashups to date?  According to a blog article from GENYU.NET, “This success does not go unnoticed by the music business—mash-ups are so popular online that the music industry has become more selective with their legal attacks, looking for a way to harness this genre without the legal complications.”

More artists are recognizing the potential in releasing their music or videos to the public for marketing purposes to create mashup contests.  This is an amazing way in which the public can participate in remixing/mashing up the artist’s original work and being recognized for it with a monetary prize or other awards.  For example, K-OS, a critically acclaimed Canadian hip-hop artist, released his last album to the public creating a remix contest.  He then released the remixed album containing the best remixes for sale on iTunes and throughout other music distributors sites.

Be careful Youtube (Google)?

>Lastly, since 2007 Viacom has accused Youtube (Now Google) of profiting from thousands of videos in a whopping 1 billion dollar lawsuit.  The impending future implications that the resulting lawsuit could have for not only Youtube but for copyright and mashup culture in general are vital.  Greg Sandoval, writing for CNET News online states,

“There’s a lot at stake, including the $1 billion damage amount Viacom seeks. Depending on how the dispute is decided, it could mean content-sharing on the Web will be far more restricted than now. On the other hand, for film studios, music labels, and other content creators, a Viacom loss could mean protecting copyright online becomes much more expensive and labor-intensive.”

In a bitter legal war, both Google and YouTube will have until April 30th to file motions for a summary judgment (basically the judge reviews the evidence on both sides and determines whether the case has enough merit to go to trial or not).  After that, then they would likely set a trial date for later this year.

Then why do it?

Because we live in an society enveloped by various juxtapositions of power and control that are constantly challenged such as the  rich vs. poor; open source vs. close source; creative commons vs. copyright; pay vs. pirate; etc.  DJ Danger Mouse exclaimed about the Grey Album (2004), a highly acclaimed mashup of The Beatles White Album and Jay Z’s Black album acapellas:

“A lot of people just assume I took some Beatles and, you know, threw some Jay-Z on top of it or mixed it up or looped it around, but it’s really a deconstruction. It’s not an easy thing to do. I was obsessed with the whole project, that’s all I was trying to do, see if I could do this. Once I got into it, I didn’t think about anything but finishing it. I stuck to those two because I thought it would be more challenging and more fun and more of a statement to what you could do with sample alone. It is an art form. It is music. You can do different things, it doesn’t have to be just what some people call stealing. It can be a lot more than that…This wasn’t supposed to happen… I just sent out a few tracks (and) now online stores are selling it and people are downloading it all over the place.” Burton denied being the agent provocateur, saying it “was not my intent to break copyright laws. It was my intent to make an art project.”

In a day called “Grey Tuesday” coordinated on February 24, 2004, Downhill Battle, an activist group, posted copies of Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album for free download on various participating websites in protest of EMI’s, a record company that ordered cease and desist of the mashup album.

Here’s this week’s mashup that I put together. Enjoy >

Thanks to/References:

A Few Good Men (1992); And Justice for All (1979); The Matrix (1999); Braveheart (1995); Lawrence Lessig; Training Day (2001); and Copyright Criminals (2009), Outkast+Queen Mashup from VillexHermannixValo.  Hopefully, my own mashup falls under the Fair Use Doctrine under educational use/criticism/teaching purposes.



Music/Video Mash Ups: Although flittering with Copyright’s shackles, do they promote/cause change or are they just l’art pour l’art?

Mashup culture continues to expand in our increasing digital age of Web 2.o.  These videos, music videos, or songs are becoming more popular because of how they can be easily distributed throughout the web.  What these newly recycled creations of taking the old and making something unique has the ability to empower individuals to not just consume media but to actively participate in entirely new and amazing ways depending on the technical know-how and how media-production savvy a person is.  There are so many tools available to cut, copy, splice, mash, blend, synergize, and recreate today.  What I’d like to try to uncover more of and unravel are a mix of the inherent copyright dangers that one faces, how one can circumvent these, and if one’s mashup makes more than just a statement.  In a wonderful online article from the NYTimes written by Michiko Kakutani, he references, artist and computer scientist Jaron Lanier, about Texts without Contexts.  He writes, “Lanier, 49, astutely points out in his new book, You Are Not a Gadget, of how online collectivism, social networking and popular software designs are changing the way people think and process information, a question of what becomes of originality and imagination in a world that prizes “metaness” and regards the mash-up as “more important than the sources who were mashed.”  Kakutani also mentioned in his article another Google phenomenon called – Google Wave – have you heard about it???

Here’s my next quasi-political mash-up using other mash-ups to get across my travelogue message of mashups political statements and if mashups in general can affect copyright changes with regards to some of the sites listed below.  Much respect and thanks for DJ Spooky.

How do we change culture?

“Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do — all of us — though not all of us know it yet. Reality cannot be copyrighted.” – David Shields in Reality Hunger

“Artists no longer work in the bub­ble of a record­ing stu­dio. The stu­dio is the net­work.” … “The 20th cen­tury was the era of mass pro­duc­tion. The 21st cen­tury is the era of mass cus­tomiza­tion,” -DJ Spooky

“audience is as antique a term as record, the one archaically passive, the other archaically physical. The record, not the remix, is the anomaly today. The remix is the very nature of the digital.” - William Gibson (2005) Wired.com

Fair Use & Copyright- The risks to recycling and reappropiating> mashup

Fair use is the right, in some circumstances, to quote copyrighted material without asking permission or paying for it. Fair use enables the creation of new culture, and keeps current copyright holders from being private censors.

Can we make more than just a statement through mash-up videos/music remixes?

- www.politicalremixvideo.com >> Political Remix Video (PRV) is a genre of transformative guerilla media production whereby creators critique power structures, deconstruct social myths and challenge dominate media messages through re-cutting and re-framing fragments of mainstream media and the popular culture.

- www.rebelliouspixels.com>> Hi my name is Jonathan McIntosh. I’m a video remix artist, a photographer, a new media teacher, a consultant and an activist. I’ve also worked on numerous media and social justice related projects in the United States and around the world. In my spare time I help co-edit the blog Political Remix Video and I’m a member of the Open Video Alliance. I also do some freelance work building and customizing WordPress websites– mostly for non-profit organizations.

- www.barelypolitical.com >> Barely Political is the leading political satire site on the web. Here’s some history: Barely Political launched in June 2007 with the debut video “I’ve Got a Crush on Obama” featuring Obama Girl. That quickly made us one of the most talked about and blogged about political satire sites online. Since launching, Barely Political videos have been seen over 150 million times worldwide, and featured on shows including Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show and The Colbert Report. President Barack Obama called Barely Political videos an “example of the fertile imagination of the Internet,” and he’s really important.

- http://opensourcecinema.org/ >> Open Source Cinema lets you create your own videos online, remix media that you have on your computer, as well as remix other people’s media from places like YouTube and Flickr. You can also connect with others by sending personal messages, commenting on remixes, or even joining projects that others have created.

To the class:

Also, if the class would be interested, we could maybe try to enter this competition and make our own media mashup: “Sunlight Labs Offering $5K for Best Government Data Mashups”