If you have an interest in copyright law and have not already watched Rip!: A remix manifesto, you need to check it out. The director’s politics are a bit heavy handed but the point is eye opening: copyright law has not always been what copyright law is today. Using mash-up music artist Girl Talk as a case study, the director takes viewers through 86 entertaining minutes of copyright past, present and hopeful future.
The most eye opening revelations in Rip! is how traditional public domain music has been borrowed, shared, built upon and eventually copyrighted by popular acts like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin who then turned around and said the borrowing stops with them. The Rolling Stones sued The Verve for 100% royalties on their 1990’s hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” even though the Stones themselves did not originate the score.
And as if that is not enough to tweak your interest, you can watch members of Metallica threaten downloading teenagers with the best lawyers their musical empire can buy. You can also watch Public Enemy’s Chuck D, crooner of such anti-establishment anthems as Fight the Power and 911 is a Joke, defend the right of to download music and re-mix tracks. Watch the manifesto here.