CT&D #56. Review of RiP!: A Remix Manifesto

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After watching “A Remix Manifesto,” I can say that this documentary really covered a lot of detail surrounding the controversy of copyright laws and I enjoyed watching and learning from it overall. I liked how there was sufficient detail to the subject of copyrighting and violations and how these details tied into 4 main points the documentary’s purpose was based on:

1. Culture always builds on the past (i.e. music and video remixers always look to past/previous works made by others to manipulate them into a remixer’s “own work,” sometimes creating a message)

2. The past always tries to control the future (i.e. laws have been passed to deter people from taking ideas from others or to limitedly hold them off from doing so, in some cases well after the original creator (s) have passed on)

3. Our future is becoming less free (i.e. where such laws and violations that have resulted from backlash have created more regulations by government bodies to limit the use of breaking copyright laws), and

4. To build free societies, you must limit the control of the past (i.e. the best example being intellectual property such as potential cures for diseases having to be freed from the hidden security of patent laws in order for its usage to be fully taken advantage of by many scientists from all over world to cure pandemics such as cancer and AIDS).

Prior to watching this documentary, I knew to an extent how copyright laws hold importance in crediting a creator’s work fairly and some of the terms in issuing a copyright to prevent plagiarism; but there are a lot of gray areas (where the law can be somewhat countered, like free speech) that I never really paid attention to when thinking about this issue. Furthermore, another thing the documentary brings up is the concept of a “copyLEFT and copyRIGHT” referring to the public domain and corporations respectively; the former concept promotes the free exchange of ideas (without suffocating restrictions to prevent others to recycle/remix ideas into “original” works) while the latter promotes protection by corporate bodies, accompanied by the concept of royalty fees to allow the original creator to claim monetary benefits as determined by the value of their work (when in actuality, the controversy is with the corporations being compensated even though most of the time creators do not sue others for infringing on their work as they typically embrace the sharing and giving aspect). To me, this is a highly complex matter that I sympathize more with the copyLEFT group but at the same time understand the importance of crediting someone’s work.

Even though the documentary primarily focused on copyright infringement on music, it can still happen with any medium, art included. As a graphic design student, I understand that plagiarism can exist in a work of art; at the same time, I also understand artistic influence. The key difference is that the former refers to one ripping off another idea for their own while the latter defines the fondness and perhaps the paying of homage to a work of art by somewhat paralleling it to a work of their own. I feel like the documentary was trying to portray a world where anyone can pay homage to ideas by having anyone recreate them (by their own definition) but unfortunately there are limits to using other people’s ideas.

This is not something I agree with, specifically with how the government and corporations want to turn their own citizens and customers respectively into criminals for “illegally” sharing, but I wholeheartedly believe in citing and referencing as it deters (or should deter) someone from taking credit for someone else’s work and benefiting from that by money and fame.

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