Appropriation and Remix Culture in our Technological Times

I like the beginning of the definition of record players being an instrument and the music produced by it is unique and nothing reproduced. DJs work with their own sense of music and produce new sound and noises with using the phonograph and nobody can deny that it is creative, even though the line between creativity and uniqueness is blurred these years.

The issue of copyright is also in music making, no matter is it among the composers or the listeners. If the composer is responsible for the layers of authorship associated with his work, what about the listeners who does not realize it but still enjoys the music? Are we encouraging the trespassing of copyright or it is the other way around, the trespassing of the composers led listeners to enjoy what we think is unique music?

“…The popular intrigue of computer theft has inspired cinematic and paperback thrillers while the robbery of music is restricted to elementary poaching and blundering innocence. The plots are trivial: Disney accuses Sony of conspiring with consumers to make unauthorized mice. Former Beatle George Harrison is found guilty of an indiscretion in choosing a vaguely familiar sequence of pitches” I don’t agree with the second half of this quote about robbery of music is only of the level of blundering innocence. To say it, I personally know a lot of Chinese or English websites who “help” with the robbery of music online. Most of the music is anime music which is barely heard of outside of Japan but big hooks for anime lovers. People in this “business” buy the CD and put it on whatever social website he or she is part of and share the music online. This is above mere elementary poaching. It became a big network and part of a business that a lot of people take part of, some consciously and some may just due to curiosity or love of the music.

I like how Oswald use the reference of quotation marks. Surely plagiarism is common in writing and using quotation marks can solve the problem sometimes but this cannot be done in music whatsoever. Anyone can claim that one took part of the music from the other when they sound similar and the composer did it consciously or not is not clear. “Audio piracy” is putting the copyright situation in a more aggressive language but it makes sense.

Also Oswald talked about computer and how it removes expertise from the scene. I was watching a talk show in China and there is this girl who makes music with random sounds such as a cough or a thump and mixes these sounds using NDS, PS3, iPhone and other electronic devices. She said that there was another band that emailed her saying they had the same idea of doing music this way and which is the first really is unclear. This also reflects the change of making music effecting the issue of copyright and authorship.

This article reminded me of Joana Så’s influenced style of John Cage’s “the wonderful widow of 18 springs”. Joana Sa made a full length movie of her performing with a piano, THROUGH THIS LOOKING-GLASS, the same way John Cage did; using the piano as a percussion instrument. Though she uses the same idea that Cage did, she does so in a different expressive way; Even if they use the same idea, it is its own unique rendition. Many artists have taken John Cage’s ideas and done their own version, such as BBCs’ 4’33, Joana Sa’s multiple Cage covers, Tetsuo Kogawa’s radio pieces, and the countless youtube and vimeo John Cage covers out there.

I also think that it is kind of freaky how he humorously predicted the use of software to track down samples. Last semester a girl told the class how a video she had got flagged for copyright against a Michael Jackson song, when in fact she did not even use a song, it was an original composition.

Also, why make a sampler when it is illegal and dangerous to sample up to an extent? Its kind of like ‘why make bongs when its illegal to smoke pot?’ or even ‘why make cars go up to 70 when that’s the average speed limit in highways?’ ‘why provide the technology to rip music out from cds ?’ copyright sux