This week, we were asked to watch rip! A Remix Manifesto – A documentary by Brett Gaylor about copyright and remix culture.
Check out the trailer:
“In RiP: A remix manifesto, web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores issues of copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 20th century and shattering the wall between users and producers.
The film’s central protagonist is Girl Talk, a mash-up musician topping the charts with his sample-based songs. But is Girl Talk a paragon of people power or the Pied Piper of piracy? Creative Commons founder, Lawrence Lessig, Brazil’s Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, and a pop culture critic Cory Doctorow also comes along for the ride.
This is a participatory media experiment from day one, in which Brett shares his raw footage at opensourcecinema.org for anyone to remix. This movie-as-mash-up method allows these remixes to become an integral part of the film. With RiP: A remix manifesto, Gaylor and Girl Talk sound an urgent alarm and draw the lines of battle” (Page 1) An Education Guide to rip! A Remix Manifesto.
The educational guide to this documentary offers thirteen chapter summaries and discussions teachers can have with their students. Many of these questions relate specifically to music and media studies but some there are also some general questions as well. We were asked to respond to one or more of these questions and to think critically about what is being asked and how we answer.
Here are my responses to a few of the many questions from the educational guide:
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? (Page 2)
I think that when you are manipulating an existing song you are starting with a song that was created by an individual. When you create a remix or mash-up, whether it be with two songs or numerous songs, the product that is created is composed of the original clips you sampled from. I do not think that this created remix or mash-up can be claimed as your own creation because while you put together this product, it is made up of existing clips that you have taken are were not created by you. However, you are taking pieces of existing songs and are combining them to produce something that is new. This new song that you have created, I think is your own creation. You combined and manipulated pre-existing clips and have created something new and I think you should be able to claim it as your own creation. The line would be drawn between copying and creating based on how it resembles the original song you start out with. I think that copying in this context is when you take an existing song and manipulate it, and it still resembles the original you are drawing from. I think creating is when you take from an existing song and you manipulate it to where the result does not resemble the original. The creation may include a beat, rhythm or lyric from the song your start out with, but this only makes up one piece of your creation. I think a creation is new and that it draws from the original – changes are made, new things are added; where as a copy takes something previously created and nothing new is added or changed.
Do you agree that a healthy public domain is essential to creativity? (Page 3)
I do think that a healthy public domain is essential to creativity. Having a public domain that allows people to take and draw from these previous creations helps creativity and aids in producing something that is new. I had no idea that Disney created its popular films and characters based on previous images and creations. I think that images or songs in the public domain for example inspire and ignite our creativity. They can give us a starting idea to build off of when creating something new. I believe that everything we see and hear has been influenced in some way by something that has previously been created. I feel it is extremely hard to create something brand new and original because of this. These previous creations can drive us and challenge us to produce something unique and new. Without having public access to these previous creations, I think this hinders what we are able to create. Being able to freely manipulate images or songs in the public domain can produce wonderful results that become something that inspires someone else.