Eric Steuer of Wired moderated a panel on the rise of remix culture. Mashup artist DJ Reset started off by talking about the work he’s been doing, and the kind of feedback he’s received from the original creators. Most have been very positive, including Lynyrd Skynyrd. He’s also working with U2. But it’s not all wine and roses: AC/DC has shut down one of his mashups.
Glenn Otis Brown of Creative Commons talks about some of the legal history. One decision stated, essentially, “unless you have a license, do not sample.” Another case, in which the Beastie Boys’ “Pass the Mic” was the subject of a lawsuit by the publisher, over three notes that had already been cleared by the label. That one went the other way. Still, labels are “gunshy” over samples, and some won’t touch them at all. DJ Reset says that the first thing out of a label’s mouth is, “is there a sample on (the track)?” And if so, they often try to get an artist to take it out.
Interlude: a mashup of Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain, where both the music and his choreography are remixed.
What are the prospects for this genre? Reset says it depends on the music. If it’s good quality music, people will keep it going. If it’s marginal, this could be a flash in the pan.
Reset mentions a “poor me, somebody likes my music” attitude among artists who see a mix of their music made available, and see only the imaginary dollars they lost.
Another mashup: “This Place Sucks“, where the Superfriends act out scenes from Office Space.
Brown mentions the merger of the real and imaginary, documentary and narrative, etc. He mentions the real and acted-out Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as an example. Then he discusses the Creative Commons Sampling license which was the basis for the Wired CD It allows sharing, remixing, etc., for the tracks. They worked with Negativland, who insisted that advertising be excluded from the new license. Eric Steuer describes the process of the CD as being anywhere from no response at all, like it was a concept so foreign that it wasn’t worth a response, to some serious questions, to some real collaboration. Bands like Le Tigre, Dan the Automator and Cornelius, who already work with samples, got it right away.
Question: A documentary filmmaker wants to open-source his interviews. He wanted to first release all of the transcripts, then when the DVD is released, also release the audio and video. Wants to know how to collect micropayments for the interviews. Brown says that it’s good to provide some direction for consumers. He mentions “Outfoxed”, a film which did release its source material. And also Magnatune, the netlabel that offers clear commercial licensing terms.
Reset says EMI and Apple Records put a premium on the brand over the content. Bands, however, often aren’t opposed to the concept. He has one freely-available track featuring Paul McCartney (with permission). But sometimes, the music is just something the artists don’t like, and they don’t want to be associated with it.
Question: Someone puts a Sampling Plus-licensed track in a movie, and wants to use that song in the ad for the movie. Is that a problem? Brown says that appears to be a hole in the license. But it probably wouldn’t be a problem to remedy.
Question: What if I wanted to remix various sorts of text from political views? Brown says that’s essentially what syndication software does. If you’re still linking back to the original source, that should be fine. But how would it be to reprint something from Wired in another magazine? That would certainly be problematic, says Steuer. Brown adds that it will get harder and harder as time goes on to find out what is the original source of certain items. William Gibson says in Pattern Recognition that it will take archaeologists in the future to find the actual origin of some given work.