NYC Re/Mixed Media Festival 2010: Paying it forward

Re/Mixed NYC 2010

A new film festival is starting up in New York City, and it's friendly to Free Culture:

"The Re/Mixed Media Festival celebrates remix as a legitimate, responsible form of visual art by bringing together filmmakers, video remixers and mashup artists to display their works publicly. The festival will be held in Brooklyn, NY in May of 2010... We are currently soliciting films that utilize remix/mashup techniques, and that are under 10 minutes in length. Additionally, your film should comply with the following guidelines:

  1. Remix does not mean stealing someone else's work and claiming it as your own, but using it to create a work that is substantially different from the appropriated work, even if it depends heavily on it.
  2. The materials used in the remix should be either owned by the artist, granted permission from use from the creator, licensed under a creative commons license which allows such use, in the public domain, or fall within the parameters of the Fair Use doctrine of U.S. Copyright Law.
  3. Attribution for works used will be given where required.
  4. To be considered for the festival, submitted works must be freely redistributable, except as limited by source material restrictions.

(Emphasis added.)

It's very encouraging to see point 4! That's "freely" as in "freedom", if my brief conversation about it with with Tom Tenney, one of the organizers of the festival, is any guide. It's great that the festival is ensuring that the works they show be freely useable by others — remix artists, of all people, understand the importance of this. And as the Sita Distribution Project is showing, being pro-sharing can actually help the artists economically.

Sketching is copying; copying is stealing. Coming soon: no breathing.


This may be old news for art students, but for the rest of us it's still kind of amazing to see cultural institutions like museums buying into the "copying is stealing" myth by prohibiting sketching.

In some cases, the copying restrictions are imposed by a lender — it would be interesting to know how often the lender imposes restrictions on works that are not under copyright, or that would not otherwise be restricted.

Nina Paley collected some examples after the jump. Know any others?

EFF "Hall of Shame" Highlights Copyright Used as Censorship

EFF Hall of Shame   censorship

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just unveiled their Takedown Hall of Shame, which highlights examples of copyright law being used to suppress political commentary and creative expression. Many of the examples involve abuses of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), whose takedown provisions encourage Internet hosting companies to remove content on the mere assertion of infringement by a copyright holder.

The EFF's list focuses on corporate takedown notices, but it's important to understand that it's not only corporations that suppress speech via copyright law. The copyright monopoly system encourages people to do it to each other too; we've collected some examples of that.

So what's the solution?

The real solution is radical reform of copyright law (there are plenty of alternatives). But even without that, there's still an easy solution: fix the DMCA to have a penalty for delivering improper takedown notices. Say, a penalty of five years off the copyright term of the covered work, for each wrong notice sent about that work. Content monopolists would start being a lot more careful if they had something to lose when they get a takedown notice wrong.


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