Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Postmodern mashups make the User Content King

A great video and an interesting blog post from Epic FU.

The video takes a song by Phoenix and matches it with clips from 1980s Brat Pack films. The end result is a brilliant and entertaining mashup, that once posted on YouTube gained the respect of the band and even its own tributes. However, as the posting on Epic FU points out, the very act involved in making mashups brings the producer involved into breach of copyright.

Somewhere along the line there needs to be a careful re-think about this issue. At a school level I find myself in the odd position where I'm told by my exam board (OCR) that while students choosing to make A Level music videos using commercial music won't be penalised by the exam board itself, they may find themselves in breach of copyright when they make the obligatory posting of their content to a website. And that may cost them marks and grades.

In this case the students are not attempting to defraud the music companies or their artistes. They're engaging in an academic exercise. As for most of the mashup producers, they're having fun and quite often bringing added airtime and publicity to bands. Famously, the Red Hot Chili Pepper ran a mashup competition a couple of years ago, inviting fans to make their next music video. The age of collaborative media production is upon us and the relationship between audience and institution has changed. Someone should tell that to the legislators and traditional content producers. As with Apple and the iTunes store a creative and innovative solution is required, so that user generated content can continue to flourish within a framework that doesn't threaten the financial well being of commercial media producers.

For now, the waters remain choppy and grey, but at least there are some great videos being made!

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