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RiP! A Remix Manifesto2009

  • 3.8
The world’s first "open-source documentary," Brett Gaylor's RIP! Is an example (and an investigation) of the "remix culture" that has triggered vibrant new work in nearly all media while drawing strict battle-lines in the war over "intellectual property" and "fair use." It is also a love letter to Gaylor's confessed "favorite artist," genius musical mash-up specialist (and biomedical engineer) Girl Talk (aka Greg Gillis). One typical three-minute Girl Talk track might employ samples from twenty-one pre-existing songs, making something brilliant and new from the old. But if those samples were each individually paid for under onerous current music industry standards, Gillis' pasted-together "song" (which isn’t available for commercial sale anyway) would have cost him an impossible $4-million-plus to create. Does a system that benefits entertainment-industry bureaucracy far more than original artists protect their work more than it prevents free exchange of ideas? Gaylor's survey brings in a wide range of voices and subtopics to address that question, including "Remix Manifesto" author Lawrence Lessig, Negativland, the history of copyright law, the Napster fracas, Metallica, Radiohead, the Disney Corporation, Cory Doctorow, ordinary citizens sued for downloading music, Brazilian superstar Gilberto Gil and much more. It is a freewheeling look at a brave new world you might enter at your peril, particularly the next time you sing "Happy Birthday" (which is, in fact, no public domain freebie but a copyrighted song owned by publishing giant Warner/Chappell Music). - Dennis Harvey

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