Remixing, as defined in the film series Everything is a Remix, is to combine or edit existing materials to produce something new or to create a new culture using existing materials. This concept of remixing is said to originally become popular from the music genre, Hip Hop. Producers and Artists would sample music by adding new beats and sounds to the original piece, thereby creating a similar sound with a new touch or feel to it. However, in Paris during 1961, William Burrows decided to mash up past rock lyrics to create heavy metal. He helped in the creation of Led Zeppelin. As popular as they were during their years of fame, Led Zeppelin has been known for taking other artist’s work. For instance, their song “Bring It On Home” has been replicated from Willie Dixon’s “Bring It On Home.” This being said, the Zep version has a sound that complements the band’s nature and image. Now, who owns this? Is it still William Burrows, or is it Led Zeppelins? In Rip! A Remix Manifesto (Rip!), Editor Brett Gaylor discusses the war over whether Old Business still has the right to own Ideas when the members of the public domain currently want the free exchange of information and ideas available to everyone, for free.
Led Zeppelin had something going for them. They never took credit for writing their music; this is a sure thing. Another sure thing is that they did not have access to the amount of material that the Internet has made available to us. Our ability to find original or remixed material, and remix it further is beyond fathoming. Creative users can post personalized material to the Net from wherever they are from their personal electronic devices. These posts can be downloaded by other users and altered to create a completely new piece of media. In Rip! A Remix Manifesto, GIRLTALK is a mash-up artist who samples tiny pieces of classic music and remixes them to create electronic-sounding dance music. Before changing careers to a music artist, GIRLTALK worked as a biomedical engineer.
In his work, he would take hundreds of pieces of data from medical journals and would process this data for his results. This process would take him an extremely long time to complete, as certain journals could not have ideas or information taken from them, as they were under copyright law. GIRLTALK questions this by asking, “Why not build on the idea of medicine? The use and collaboration of ideas in medicine would streamline the ability to progress medicine.” For instance, the cure for cancer could be a step away. However, this cannot be accomplished because it is off limits to copyright.
This is the way, as Brett Gaylor puts it in Rip! A Remix Manifesto, “copyLEFTS” feel. They believe the public domain must be protected to ensure free exchange of ideas for art/culture. This is the new culture.. “CopyRIGHTS” are all about the idea of making money off ideas. This is old business using ideas as their property, and anyone who uses it must pay up and ask for permission. “CopyRIGHTS” have essentially said NO to a free library for all users and created it into a supermarket with corporate lobby, lawsuits, and copyright to protect their property. This idea property is better known as “intellectual property.” Rick Cairns describes intellectual property as, “property on someone’s MIND.” The big players in this intellectual property debate are those who own successful patents and entertainment companies who hold music, television, and movie pieces within their legal possession.
Radiohead shook the music industry when the group decided to release their album online. Fans could download it and decide how much they wanted to pay for it. A few weeks later, Radiohead released all of the studio recordings and music videos to follow the album. As they spoke in Rip!, “The industry failed to evolve, so we evolved for them.”
Evolution is consistently constant; always occurring. The Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) is the primary example of the single organism that started to multiply to create all living things on this planet. Technology has branched to create various forms of technologies that in turn have create various ways for producers and songwriters to deliver their music and remixes to listeners and for people to share these productions. With original songs now being mashed-up, covered, knocked-off, and remixed, it is beginning to become harder than ever to differentiate whether someone is indeed infringing on copyright.
With our culture expanding more rapidly, we must decide as a society where the line for copyright infringement is. People who have downloaded a song for free or shared it with friends are considered criminals. Thus, it is safe to say that society is made primarily of criminals for committing these acts. Acts of which are the product of communication evolution. As Lawrence Lessig says, “There is no way to kill this technology, we can only criminalize its use, we cannot stop people from taking culture and remaking it in a way that expresses their ideas differently.” In this world of remix that we live in, we must create a solution to harness the power of ideas and to stream line the expansion of ideas; enabling them to branch out, to flourish. This could occur through a mass availability of material on the Public Domain, or the ability to share ideas and intellectual property freely over the Internet. This solution must be realized now.