March 11, 2009  ·  Lessig

So it may well have taken the makers of this amazing remix (and others available at Thru-You.com) more time to make this than it took me to write my book, REMIX. But whether or not it did, this is, to borrow the point from my friend David Post’s fantastic book, Jefferson’s Moose. Watch this, and you’ll understand everything and more than what I try to explain in my book.

(Jefferson’s Moose: Post’s book is about Jefferson and about cyberspace. He’s been toiling to understand both for almost 15 years. The central story of the book was Jefferson’s bringing a stuffed moose to Paris, to show the Old World why their theories about nature in the New World were wrong. Words had failed to do the trick. But when one saw the seven foot tall moose in Jefferson’s entry way, one could not but recognize that theories about nature being “degenerate” in America were false.)

This video is Jefferson’s Moose. If you come to the Net armed with the idea that the old system of copyright is going to work just fine here, this more than anything is going to get you to recognize: you need some new ideas.

Thank you, ThruYou.

  • http://digitalproductions.co.uk Crosbie Fitch

    Also covered on P2PNet: http://www.p2pnet.net/story/18706

    I agree with you that this, more than anything, is going to get you to recognise you need some new ideas….

  • http://youngglory.blogspot.com/2009/03/thru-you-and-thorny-problem-of-airspace.html Matt Blick

    This IS the future

    AND

    I’m counting the days (hours) before someone makes YouTube take it down.

    By the way – I don’t know if you say ‘buy’ as a figure of speech but you can download it for free from the mirror site

    http://www.Thru-You.org

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  • Rick

    Toooo cool!
    Thanks.

  • http://www.bloodyveg.com John T

    One of the players is a guy who went by the name of MarloweDK. He’s a stellar bassist and had a strong following on YouTube. In fact, he inspired me to pick up the instrument. A few days ago, YouTube took him down because he played along with commercial tracks. It’s really a shame because if I hadn’t found him, I would not have been exposed to those tunes, and I would not have bought the tracks. Nice move.

  • B. Ilious

    Lawrence,

    Could you post a copy of your book Remix in PDF somewhere online?

    Thanks.

    -B

  • http://www.keglawyers.com JT

    It’s actually such a cool compilation! But, yeah, the way we think about copyrights is going to have to change. I found it really annoying, for example, when NBC made YouTube take down any clips from its broadcast of the Beijing Olympics. Seemed really silly.

  • Rick

    Not directly related to the creative arts, but still relevant to the remix concept, this latest Tedtalk with Tim Berners-Lee speaks to how freely-available linked data on the web can give rise to creative “remix” that can provide not just speed, efficiency, and clarity but entirely new insights across our entire culture. Good stuff.

  • Winston G

    Hi Larry,

    I would like it, too, if you would post a copy of your book somewhere online.

    Please let us know where we can find it.

    Thanks.

    Winston

  • geoff cline

    Kutiman rocks! His work is the promise of the internet realized and displayed for the word to see and hear. Is this not composing? Brilliant.

    I was just talking about this at SXSW Interactive…and then heard that you had spoken…and then came hear. The analog and digital worlds, together again for the first time.

  • geoff cline

    Yes and…

    Typos can be such fun. In the above post, substitute “world” for “word” in line 1; substitute “here” for “hear” in line 3.

    You can take the boy out of the editor (kicking and screaming), but you can’t take the editor out of the boy.

    LL–Keep fighting the good fight.

  • http://www.thinknowyes.com David Passiak

    There’s a similar concept video I covered on my site that was recorded with musicians playing around the world, you can see the story here:

    http://www.thinknowyes.com/home/?p=43

    Eclectic Method are another group that produce and perform in this way, though I think the British group Coldcut on the Ninja Tunes label were the ones who got the first recognition in the genre.

    Excellent stuff!

  • Paulo

    The old system of copyright works just fine. You can do this as much as you like at home and share it with friends. But if you make money from it, return some to the talented people who made it possible.

    Your “sharing” culture does not seem to include SHARING any MONEY with CREATORS.

    “but you can download it for free from the mirror site”

    Even better – why not pay for it? :)

  • Jason

    Amazing stuff, especially the song “I M New.”

    Kutiman was featured on NPR this week:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101959636

  • http://www.socialsecuritybullshit.com Steve Baba

    Wall Street Journal article “The Fine Art of Copright”
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123716866712036921.html?mod=
    which may be behind the money/subscription wall if you are not reading close to date of posting

    I am copying 4 paragraphs which I think is fair use:

    Mr. Garcia was irritated when he learned Mr. Fairey had used his photo. “When I found out, I was disappointed in the fact that someone was able to go onto the Internet and take something that doesn’t belong to them and then use it,” he said. “That part of this whole story is crucial for people to understand: that simply because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s free for the taking, and just because you can take it doesn’t mean it belongs to you.”

    The AP countersuit notes that the poster has generated revenues in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, such as $60 sweatshirts on Mr. Fairey’s Web site. The news agency, a nonprofit, earns its revenues by licensing content, including its library of 10 million images.

    As for Mr. Fairey, instead of agreeing on a licensing fee, he worked with Stanford University’s Fair Use Project to sue the AP, claiming that the poster was fair use of the photo. The Stanford group, founded by Lawrence Lessig, favors fewer protections for copyright. In Mr. Lessig’s recent book, “Remix,” he rightly criticized many copyright claims. He cited the lawsuit brought by Universal Music against a woman for posting on YouTube an amusing clip of her infant dancing to a song by Prince. There’s no opportunity to license snippets of songs and no harm done to Prince.

    But this case is different. The AP and Mr. Garcia make their livings selling their work. As a reader commented on Mr. Lessig’s blog, “I don’t think photographers, professional and amateur, are going to appreciate free-culture types saying that their work is not creative since it only took a second to snap a picture.”

    ——————
    Also the WSJ copied my blog post but did not print my name – half as bad as Fairey would do .

  • http://www.socialsecuritybullshit.com Steve Baba

    and where is Lessig.
    No post for 9 days.
    He is not sick or depressed over recent political events?

  • Lekas

    This guy is just a genius! who would make so groovy music out of clips?

    awsome

  • http://luni.net/ Gunnar Helliesen

    Not only is this work genius and art, it’s also excellent PR for every artist featured.

    The fact that almost all of them are amateurs can make you wonder about the whole concept of “value” in our current copyright system. Who determines what is valuable, and according to what criteria? Hundreds of thousands of views of the videos on YouTube, surely that holds value (other than to YouTube’s owners, Google)?

    Or is something only valuable when it’s protected by the legal department of a huge corporation? Yeah, I know, evil rhetorical question.

    Gunnar

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  • Rick

    Reports of Lessig’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

    He just blogged on HP a few days ago on the Change Congress effort.

    But closer to this topic. I’m hopeful that Lessig can offer us an opinion on the DOJ’s brief given in the Sony/Tenenbaum case. Ouch!

    On the other hand, this one is kinda fun. Ya gotta hand it to the folks down under; their tolerance for BS is much lower than ours here in the US.

  • http://www.mininova.org/search/?search=lessig&cat=0 Matt

    @Paulo

    What you are describing IS a violation of copyright. That’s the whole point.

    Also, for those that wanted it, I posted a link I found to the audio book format of Remix. [torrent]

  • Matt

    And sorry about the double post. The first time I forgot the Captcha, not realizing that you don’t actually need to.

  • Farmer Joe

    Hello. I doubt this will get posted on the other side, so I am going to seed some thoughts here.

    First off, I am absolutely for free culture, and when copyright/patent prevent trade and commerce, an alternative should be considered. I believe that if someone creates a product, if they decide to charge for it, they should. But as written in the Bible, “Nothing Is New Under The Sun”. Point is, it should be the creator’s decision whether or not to charge for their work. In this spirit, I would like to present some blanket thoughts, released under Creative Commons, to engage others and have a spirited debate on these ideas…

    Thank you.

    I’d like to see a serious discussion on creating a Music and Media Derivative Works Marketplace. A oft-used response to many artists for creating derivative art by the entertainment industry is that much of it isn’t copyrightable- that the art is not really “creative” but derivative in manner.

    But that’s the point, and what we’ve seen over the past decade. The RIAA’s started with issues around the Diamond Rio, Napster, and the like. None of these technologies were really “creative” but derivative. They identified an underserved marketplace called “electronic distribution” of works. But overall, this is just one more problem of the Recording Industry. The process of sound recordings was not invented by the record labels. In fact, Thomas Edison invented the art form and it was subsequently embraced by the record industry when it saw ways to control the content, and the distribution channels the Recording Industry setup made it a commercially viable business.

    In many ways, the industry wasn’t new, just a derivative of existing inventions when the RIAA formed in 1952. The RIAA’s purpose and original existence was founded on maintaining proper “cutting” of a recording. This is where the “RIAA Equalization Curve” came from. Today, it thrives on commercialization of existing pieces. I find it odd that this is the basis of the recording industry itself, but when it comes to serving a marketplace, and creating new works of derivative art, the industry comes to a full stop, when it isn’t creative. This seems to run in reverse of the actual history of the industry itself.

    We keep talking about the gaffes of Music and Entertainment industries here, probably because it’s Tech-related and it attracts an audience of technology professionals, and we naturally see the best solution is probably some sort of a tech-based solution. Many of these discussions have veered into areas which prevent tech-based solutions from going mainstream. This includes the often discussed patent/copyright debate. If you are granted a Government-sponsored monopoly, it should do something to serve its citizens, and furthermore strengthen the economy. For more background, do read into Thomas Jefferson’s original intent of the USPTO.

    Content is locked up for years; you’re unable to Pass Go without paying $200.00 licensing fees. As a result, alternative use such as Larry’s Creative Commons has gained momentum. Consumers have plenty of choices about where to get their content online, and “FREE” doesn’t get the

    Let’s not forget that copyright was based around the blanket axiom that content, after a certain amount of time, has the ability to change from a product to something identifiable with an entire culture, not the other way around. To this point, it also seems that the original protections of TradeMark have been moved to support Copyright law. This is interesting because a trade mark rights are granted to protect an inventor and product and in turn encourage trade. It appears the need to stimulate Trade was removed. Subsequently, content has become locked up for years; you’re unable to Pass Go without paying $200.00 licensing fees. As a result, alternative use of licensing such as Creative Commons has gained momentum. Consumers have plenty of choices about where to get their content online, but from a higher level, “FREE” doesn’t get the overseas folks who have our TARP money open their wallet.

    Today, we suffer from issues around increasing productivity and creating exportable goods to tender debt. And we have a crisis where our largest export- Financial Derivatives has cratered, so we need to find a new export.

    Why not find a way to support monetization of derivative music and media works? Distribution channels such as iTunes already exist, and with the correct legislative pieces in place, it could re-stimulate the once powerful Media and Music Export Industries. If it means we have to make 2,000,000 apps and remixes to be sold on iTunes for 99¢, so be it. These are low-startup-cost industries that have the ability to stimulate trade almost immediately.

    A fundamental problem is that the current system and business model isn’t setup to make it easier to purchase and be legit. Not just for final products, but also for derivative works. The former has been demonstrated correct with the phenomenal success of services such as iTunes. When content companies make purchasing uncomfortably complicated, there are few other alternatives.

    What can be done?
    Possibly the best idea is something that should have been discussed years ago– Find ways to license music under the auspice of a low-cost derivative/promotional licensing scheme, so people can create and manufacture derivative works. If done correctly, it can lift up and re-stimulate Media and Music Industries with viable exports.

    It needs to be setup to avoid things such as the recent Warner/YouTube shakedown. If such an industry was to exist, it needs to be streamlined– approvals go through 30 people at 3 licensing entities to get a price need to go away. Content should be made it available, with the intention to monetize it. A foundational principal needs to be either your going to sell a license because content is for sale or it isn’t. don’t care about use so much of use. When I buy a car, I can put a new stereo in it. Why is use so overly complex with the recording industry?

    I doubt in most cases, you’ll find these people are sharing their life freely with others and presenting it as their culture, and not deliberately trying to skirt paying a 25¢ royalty.

    Today, we’re wallowing in a sea of content and you have a generation that can come up new ways to do it, but are spooked to get in the box. Many, many new uses of content coming to the surface. Look at YouTube’s “Chad Vader” series as an example.

    To that point, some 10 to 13 hours of content is uploaded to Youtube every minute. Could the industry even support legally licensing 5% of this? Probably not given it’s current manual processes. Considering the circumstances, and repeated conditioning based on the threats of suing, it’s no surprise people devalue content so much. Yet, you can create an entire manufacturing base with a near-zero setup cost.

    Why do this?
    Well, perhaps you’ve noticed the recent and incredible adoption of FinalCut, Garage Band, and Avid. These skillsets were once only known by a few, but now, these same tools have become increasingly within grasp of hobbyists. Still, the industry seems to not see how to make money on it.

    Some say that there is no worthwhile content, but in actuality, the reverse is true. The TriBecca Film Festival had its most entries ever this last year, and Sundance receives over 9000 entries to fill it’s allocated 200 slots. So user-generated and hobbyist-generated content is gaining in momentum because established players can’t keep up with the content.

    There is a market, which if setup correctly, could stimulate trade. It’s just figuring out how to set up the business so it can be successful in profiting from it. This is probably why so many people are upset, and increasingly looking to people like Rio Caraeff to help drive the industry forward.

  • Sumo

    Mr. Lessig, This remix is certainly demonstrative of the post modern trends that you identify in your book “Remix.” At the same time, I think your claim that this is the champion of remix culture that you describe is misleading To what degree might this remix withstand a fair use analysis? This funk remix is by no means confusable as a substitute for the original compositions and the sample usage is arguably difficult for a lay person to recognize. This type of remix is distinguishable from a mash up because it’s samples aren’t offered for recognition purposes. Indeed, this type of use is readily distinguishable from what Girltalk or Dangermouse produce. To what extent would this type of remix really need the deregulation of the fair use frame work you propose in Part Three of Remix? This is clearly the work of a skilled individual, amateur or professional, according to your frame work isn’t the line crossed when this type of work is effectively published on a service like youtube or promoted for mass distribution?

  • sethpark

    there and back again.

    this makes me think about the role of mashups in my life. i do a lot of mixing, myself. when i do mashups, i do them because i cant get all of the sounds to exist in real time. either i cannot find the right players or i cant find the time to write a real-time song.

    there is significant digital consumer value for these mashups. But greater still is the desire for the same net effect to come from real people, real time.

    i think mashups are like prototypes. when i build (for my day job) prototypes of information systems, i cobble together the desired user experience. mashups. then, when i sell my prototype, i have to figure out how to make it work in the real world, in real time.

    i think mashups help us explore what we’d like to have, were we to have the time, resources, and motivation to do so. i dont think they compete with the real.

    i mashup content from external sources and internal sources. i mashup my own work in ways that i could never reproduce real time… then i find people to play the parts. mashups is a design tool. for me, the initial concept is just the beginning point for communicating creative ideas to a broader group.. groups that play by ear… groups for whom a score would be meaningless.

    but the ultimate goal of my mashups–be it information system interfaces or music–is to provide a prototype that i desire to realize…. in real time, with real people. something that could be a viable real solution.

    if everybody thought of mashups as a prototype for reality, nobody would have a problem with it. the only problem is when people consume mashups as if they were the end product.

    one day, we’ll understand how to design our value as modules in a library that can be employed as creatively as paints of various hues on a palate. then, our work would not be subject to infringement. we’d be materials suppliers rather than feeling like product suppliers whose value has been deprocessed and exploited.

    every creative work is based on something else, if only inspiration. when orchestral composers adapt the ideas of others in their score, it’s called inspiration. when a mashup is created for the same purpose–to design and communicate creative thoughts–it’s called piracy. but if the mashup is not the finished good, there is no problem. the issue seems to arise when the mashup is not sufficiently abstracted, paraphrased.

    it’s as if none seems to mind if you play the exact same notes; they seem to only mind when you use a recording of a person playing the notes you intend to use for inspiration. this seems fair to me. it’s the difference between idea and synthesis. nobody can own ideas, but everybody has the right to lay claim to their performance. there’s a big difference between “this is my idea” and “i did this”.