Appropriation and Remix Culture in our Technological Times

In “Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative” John Oswald disguises the technologies that are changing the way we see piracy. As I read this essay I couldn’t help but think of the fact that this essay was written in 1985. In 85 I was a young child and totally obsessed groups like Eric B & Rakim, Boogie Down Productions, and Public Enemy. The hip-hop music of that time was heavily sample driven music and now from this class I realize what has caused the death of the music I loved as a child. If I start to think of some of the best albums of that time (Bestie Boys “Paul’s Boutique”) I know that albums like that will never made again because I would be too expensive to get all the rights for the samples. I also see that the main difference now is that they stopped going after the artist for a cut of their new art form and started going after their fans.

This essay makes me sad because the optimism that Oswald has that laws will change with the growth of technology.But here we are over twenty years latter and it has not happened. It has only escalated to turning ordinary every day people into criminals for downloading or sharing the music that they love. I agree with Oswald that music is pounded into or heads without our consent yet, if we happen to take it in and use it we are wrong. I also agree with the idea that someone owning a sequence of note is just ridiculous.

On a completely different note I just say a mash-up on the Oscars. I will try to find it and post it on the blog.


Steal this Film

In this article, Cory Doctorow tries to highlight the functions of what would be successful copyright law, and he proffers some good points. I like that he takes the capitalist and consumerist market economies into consideration, and focus on that for a bit.

As much as artists would love the “government will pay you 40 grand a year” scenario, it will never happen, and so copyright must exist in order to fund creativity. He points out that money and art do not have a direct correlation, that it would be better to have revenue from copyright be shared among many artists, as opposed to just one, and that copyright doesn’t deliver a free marketplace where creators or investors set a price for creative works.

I don’t believe that is entirely true: art is in a market place, perhaps, not negotiated by price, but by success, which in turn, increases revenue as if it was negotiated by price. What I mean is that even if Rihanna and her record company doesn’t charge a vast amount of money for people to listen to her new hit-single, they propel it to the top of the charts, causing the amount of people that want to listen to her to increase, which enables her to go on world tours and “float to the top in a pure and free marketplace,” helping her collect her profits.

Furthermore, he says that “money talks, and bullshit walks,” which is a fairly good label to pin on record industry executives and their investors. His argument that creators and investors are notoriously resistant to new media is one that is preventive of cultural advancement Investors possibly apply, but only until they figure out a way to manipulate the new technology in order to make higher profits. There are examples of creators being resistant as well (Metallica vs Napster), however in my opinion, on the whole creators are not only open to new media, they are the ones that spur the new media.

Art, and specifically music, is a market that churns out billions a year, and I feel like even though it’s damning to think about it this way and it’s much nicer to say, oh, art is priceless and art is sacred, the reality of the situation is that the market for art, music, and film is enormous, and it should be considered as such in terms of what the “new copyright law” should look like.