Sound Unseen screened rip! a remix manifesto, a film by Brett Gaylor, last night in a small, intimate theater recently established (this was the premiere showing) in Minneapolis, filled almost to capacity.

View the film at http://www.ripremix.com/. Pay what you think it is worth (and it is worth the money, I promise), then can rip it, do a mashup, or simply watch it. Just don’t sell it.

Figuring prominently in the film are Lawrence Lessig (@lessig on Twitter), Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, Cory Doctorow (@doctorow on Twitter), science fiction novelist and blogger, and GirlTalk (aka Gregg Gillis), mashup artist, who not only give us information about remixing and mashups, but give us background and historical references to copyright laws. Each of them also shows how complex this subject is, from Lessig commenting on the illegality of segments of the video, to Doctorow discussing the Dickens / Twain copyright issues of the 19th century, to GirlTalk’s previous career in a field steeped in intellectual property issues (biomedical engineering).

The movie is informative and entertaining. The music is amazing, the sound bites are funny, and Gaylor discusses the reasons behind his advocacy of a remix manifesto. What he doesn’t do is discuss in depth the middle of the road between complete copyright control and no copyright control and what the differences are. There is a sense of US versus THEM to this film, but in the end the lines of US and THEM are definitely blurred.

At the end of the screening, the audience was given the chance to talk to the filmmaker over Skype. The conversation was lively and interesting.

In other news in the copyright fight, BoingBoing reported today the USA, Canada, and the EU attempted to kill a treaty to protect blind people’s access to written material. Doctorow writes

At issue is a treaty to protect the rights of blind people and people with other disabilities that affect reading (people with dyslexia, people who are paralyzed or lack arms or hands for turning pages), introduced by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay. This should be a slam dunk: who wouldn’t want a harmonized system of copyright exceptions that ensure that it’s possible for disabled people to get access to the written word?

Doctorow amends the piece and says there is victory (for now):

Victory! — the treaty proposal survived this meeting and will be back on the agenda at the next one. We’ve got a couple months to lobby our governments and make sure that the next time they show up, they don’t embarrass us by opposing this.

See the the final conclusions of the SCCR Eighteenth Session at Knowledge Ecology Notes.

And finally, the Chronicle of Higher Education, news was posted about different copyright law curricula being offered in higher education. The author, Marc Beja, discusses the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) curriculum for teaching copyright law, and the response of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in releasing their own curriculum. He writes,

The foundation’s program, “Teaching Copyright,” includes a Web site and five 60-minute lessons that the foundation hopes will give students what it calls “the real story” about their rights when it comes to downloading movies, music, and other media from the Internet.

Interesting that Brazil figures predominantly in both the rip/remix issues and the copyright issues. While Lessig was in Brazil talking about Creative Commons, he said

I come from the land where we talk about being free. I come from a land where we are lost. You are our brother in this debate, and you must remind us of what we have lost.

Brazil, again, has reminded us. Now it is up to us to listen.


  1. Julian

    That’s so interesting that the director conducted a Q & A via skype after the screening. Certainly emblematic of the new uses of technology covered in the film. Did he provide any really interesting tidbits that you can relay?

    1. dawn

      I had a feeling that he’s more of a fanboy of remixing rather than someone who understands the depth of the laws. He wasn’t able to answer some simple questions about Creative Commons that the audience asked. But he is definitely interested in pursuing some of that area in a 2.0 version of the movie.

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