Minute Meme

Copying Is Not Theft (Minute Meme #1)

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Copying Is Not Theft is the first meme in our Minute Memes series and was supported by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Animation, lyrics, and tune by Nina Paley. Music arranged by Nik Phelps; vocals by Connie Champagne. Released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

In addition to YouTube, we've also uploaded it to the Internet Archive, where you can not only play it but also download the entire video in various formats:

Just The Music:



Other Arrangements

Before we released this final version, we put up a draft version with a "scratch" track in which Nina Paley herself sang the tune, and asked others to do their own arrangements. The comments below link to some of the responses. The remixing doesn't have to stop now, of course. In free culture, there's no such thing as "a final version", there's only "our final version" — just because it's final for us doesn't mean it's final for you. Any interested musicians/sound designers can re-release the whole thing with their own tracks and appropriate credits. Just add and remove sound credits as needed. The fonts are Gill Sans and Gill Sans Ultra Bold. Be sure to keep the CC-BY-SA symbols on all the credits — you'll be releasing your modifications under the same license.

Copying is not theft. Stealing a thing leaves one less left Copying it makes one thing more; that's what copying's for. Copying is not theft. If I copy yours you have it too One for me and one for you That's what copies can do If I steal your bicycle you have to take the bus, but if I just copy it there's one for each of us! Making more of a thing, that is what we call "copying" Sharing ideas with everyone That's why copying is FUN!

This track is 90 (or 180) beats per minute. The animation is 24 frames per second, with one beat every 8 frames.

There's a great video of Nina Paley singing the song at a DIY conference — maybe worth watching to get a sense of how she hears the song in her head:

A real standout among the arrangements is this punk-surrealist remash by Norman Szabo:

copybunny floats in the clouds


Minute Memes

Minute Memes: Reframing Copyright One Idea At a Time

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Minute Memes are supported by a generous grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and donations from supporters like you. We're planning on making many more memes and anything you can give will help; so if you like the Minute Memes project, please consider making a directed donation.

What are the Minute Memes?

The Minute Memes project is a series of one-minute videos about copyright restrictions and artistic freedom, made by award-winning animator Nina Paley.

 Copying Is Not Theft title  
 EFF Cartoon  Credit Is Due
 Copying Is Not Theft    All Creative Work Is Derivative  EFF Tribute  Credit Is Due: The Attribution Song

The series counteracts widely-available videos from the recording and publishing industries that seek to frame copyright as natural property right. The Minute Memes build a new frame of reference to supplant received rhetoric about copyright -- such as:

  • the notion of "balancing" the needs of creators and the public, which assumes that the two are in opposition;
  • the idea that copying is a form of stealing; and
  • the idea that control of copying must be bound up with questions of attribution.

The Minute Memes use visual storytelling, music, lyrics, and high production values to show how art, artists, and audiences can thrive in a permissive and non-monopolistic environment. Several have been completed and are already widely shared on the Internet. Please consider donating to this project to support the production of more Minute Memes.



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