I recently had one of my videos muted by YouTube in response to a “Content ID Match.” This two minute movie about a trip my friends and I took to Coney Island used “Cumbia En Do Menor” by Lito Barrientos for a soundtrack. This home movie was created for personal entertainment (Look Ma! I went to the beach!) and not for profit. However, because it “may have content that is owned or licensed by Warner Music Group,” it was determined to be in violation of copyright laws and muted.
I suppose I should count myself lucky that Warner Music Group didn’t sue me for all I was worth (which is not much). As it is, I am guilty until proven innocent. WMG was not required to provide any evidence that they either own or license that song, nor were they expected to prove that I was impacting their commercial business or had gone beyond fair use. If I wanted to dispute the claim, I would have to do all the work, and open myself up to the full wrath of the WMG legal department.
How did we let this happen? How did we let corporations take such control of our collective creative output that the public domain has become a joke, with copyrights extended ad infinitum, and robot crawlers searching the internet for unlicensed songs in home videos (Look Ma! I went to the beach… in silence!)? Why are we letting these corporations stifle our creativity by making art illegal or prohibitively expensive?
In answer to these questions, I offer Open Source Cinema, an open source documentary film about copyright.
Brett Gaylor, the director of this “Remix Manifesto” says:
Imagine a world where ideas and culture, from “Happy Birthday” to Mickey Mouse, are horded under lock and key by copyright laws. Even ideas that could lead to a cure for cancer would be off-limits. Stop imagining now, because this is the world you live in. Although pop culture giants such as Walt Disney and the Rolling Stones built on the past to produce their art, the door is closing behind them.
The movie, made up of content generated and donated by people all over the world, features interviews with Boing Boing‘s Cory Doctorow, Lawrence Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons, and Gregg Gillis, otherwise known as Girl Talk, the musician who makes music by remixing and mashing together thousands of unlicensed song samples.
Being open source, this project is open to contributions from any and all comers. Submit your music or your footage, or help remix sound samples and video footage. Help show the big corporations that art doesn’t belong to them, and that there are things in this world that don’t exist to be bought and sold. Help show big business and big government that intellectual “property” belongs to all of us.