rip: a remix manifesto

Synchronicity. After obsessing over Girl Talk all weekend, I just received an email from Tripwire about Brett Gaylor’s documentary Rip: A Remix Manifesto, which received a standing ovation at the International Documentary Film Festival held in Amsterdam this past weekend (and received the Dioraphte Audience Award.) The film “explores the legal and artistic ramifications of the mash-up using Greg Gillis, a.k.a. Girl Talk as the central figure.”

Here’s some more about the film:

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.

I’ve been making a documentary for over 6 years that explores this issue: RiP: A Remix Manifesto.

Digital technology has opened up an unprecedented global economy of ideas. RiP explores the robber barons and revolutionaries squaring off across this new frontier as the film journeys from the hallways of Washington to the favelas of Brazil. Our central protagonist is Gregg Gillis, the Pittsburgh biomedical engineer who moonlights as Girl Talk, a mash-up artist rearranging the pop charts’ DNA with his incongruous entirely sample based songs. Along the way, I met key figures on the complexities of intellectual property in the digital era, among them Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig, culture critic Cory Doctorow, Brazilian musician and Minister of Cultural Affairs Gilberto Gil, and Jammie Thomas, the single mom successfully sued by the RIAA for illegal downloading.

*P.S. If you’re fascinated by this ‘conversation,’ you might also enjoy this presentation by Lawrence Lessig wherein he addresses a range of subjects from Free Culture to corruption (with Net Neutrality, privacy, cyberlaw, copyright and Democratic politics in between).

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