By at 7:32 AM Tuesday, March 9th 2010


‘Rip! A Remix Manifesto’ Explores The Musical Copyright Wars

Girl Talk, Music


We don’t often get the justified chance to showcase full-length films on Antiquiet, but this one’s right up our alley. SnagFilms has put together a documentary on Girl Talk, aka Greg Gillis, and his patchwork-pastiche musical style – as well as the hurdles he faces in the (somewhat) new technological landscape he’s working entirely within.

Using Gillis’ sampling techniques as an example, Rip! A Remix Manifesto examines the labyrinth of copyright infringement in music, a hot-button industry issue we’ve been exploring for quite some time. The best part? You can watch it all, right now, for free:

In addition to capturing Gillis’ infectiously high-energy shows as Girl Talk, the film dives down the rabbit hole of sampling & copyright infringement, examining how we came to this point, the contradicting positions on the issue and where this whole thing could be headed. The uphill battles professional remixers have faced over the years has evolved into a new game, resulting in a “Remixer’s Manifesto” of sorts, centering on three basic tenets:

1. Culture always builds on the past.
2. The past always tries to control the future.
3. Our future is becoming less free.

These three points are concepts familiar to anyone who’s studied sociology throughout civilized history, but they ring particularly true within the music industry, where the landscape of opportunity and conceptualization has been blown wide open and the profiteers are scrambling to restructure their business plan – or simply suing the hell out of anyone pushing envelopes and expanding technological frontiers.

Citing Radiohead’s In Rainbows as a tipping-point example, Rip! A Remix Manifesto looks to the future of music sampling & distribution, as well as copyright law. It’s a fascinating 86 minutes – if you’ve got the time, check it out. Also dig into our own interview with Gillis from back in 2008, not long after Feed The Animals was released and Girl Talk’s explosive Lollapalooza performance had brought droves of new fans – as well as scrutiny from the gatekeepers of the Old Guard.


Meanwhile, On The Internet...

  1. Skwerl says:

    really, really great. so many documentaries are just whiny pity party bitchfests, but the good ones, like this one, actually make points and educate. the last third is such a gut punch… intellectual property is so much bigger than i even considered, and i thought i knew a hell of a lot about it, $30,000 and a year in court after sharing nine songs. it pulls the curtains back a little bit on why the ip laws haven’t been reformed; our economy depends on it since letting all the physical manufacturing go overseas. the bit about america’s early copyright laws being designed to protect twain at dickens’ expense was eye opening as well. this is a must see.

  2. Thunder Cat says:

    I will definitely check this one out. Weird thing is I’m in Canada so I’m gonna have to download it because its not available in my country.

  3. moss says:

    It’s not working here in Canada. Odd that a documentary on copyright would have region-restrictions, no?

  4. José De la Rosé says:

    As a fan, or as a person who loves something for nothing, it’s easy to sit back and say “Hey man just set the music free…”. But really, isn’t that kind of naive? Or selfish maybe. If internet technology got to the point where some kids on a P2P network were able to steal your TV or stereo from your house you wouldn’t like it. But you’ll still go right ahead and steal from the artists and labels while saying “well that’s different”. The rights to the music do in fact belong to someone, and “stealing” it the way we do is still stealing. And obviously that means me too. I steal 99.999% of the music I listen to. But as an artist, if I knew for a fact that I was losing out on sales because people were getting my music through means that I’m not in control of, I would be pissed. If I want my music to be given away for free, let me be the one to decide that. Basically, there’s no answer to the problem. The technology just got to the point where people can easily use it to steal, and that’s just the way it’s going to be, probably for a long time.

  5. Skwerl says:

    well this documentary isn’t saying “set the music free.” and i’m glad it isn’t, because that is silly and naïve. it’s exploring intellectual property laws with respect to both rights holders and consumers. it isn’t about downloading (just touches upon it here and there); it’s about remixing, and fair use. there’s this bit about how walt disney built his empire building on works that were in the public domain- snow white, cinderella, alice in wonderland, all those movies were unlicensed remakes, legal because at the time, after 14 years, a work of art went into the public domain. and now disney protects its “property” (all “stolen” from others) more fiercely than most. and as i touched on with my first comment, the doc shows that as america has shifted so much of its economy away from manufacturing and physical property and more towards innovation and patents and ideas- intellectual property, the laws have evolved to protect our interests more and more aggressively. there are all these implications to this, well beyond girl talk being a criminal for remixing. such as medical research that can’t be legally done just because some company patented some broad concept that they never did anything with, and this proprietary concept overlaps with ideas active researchers may have.
    but hey, unless you’re in canada today, you could just watch the film.
    and to the canadians, we’re very sorry. we didn’t know the movie would be regionally restricted, and are generally enthusiastically unwilling (is that an oxymoron?) to present any such content. we’ll pass the concern onto our contact at snagfilms.

  6. José De la Rosé says:

    I watched it this morning, and it was pretty good. There were a few moments were it felt a little heavy handed with the whole big bad wolf record company vibe, but the stuff about the broad patents and all that was a kick in the balls for sure.

    And I guess it’s a separate discussion maybe, but while sampling is one thing, having a musical career built almost 100% on other peoples music is pretty shitty to me. The fact that Girl Talk can exist on any level is the pinnacle of what’s lacking in most modern music (originality). If he were just some nameless, faceless youtube goofball, that might be funny. But as it is, he should need to pay every royalty before anything gets released.

  7. Adrian says:

    FYI, it’s not just Canada that can’t see this film; I’m in Australia and can’t get to it. From the link, looks like it’s USA only.


  8. I spoke with Mike Procelli of SnagFilms (who brought this to our attention in the first place), and he had the following to offer:

    It’s actually pretty ironic – we were only given US distribution rights for a film that rips apart copyright restrictions and preaches widespread creativity. We got it from the film board of Canad – I just found that the film is actually now available on that site too:

    So that should work for your international readers!

  9. Adrian says:

    Awesome! Thanks Johnny.

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