I like the ideals of the copy-paste culture that is the very substructure of the Internet: share and share alike.
Hilarious link? Copy, paste and broadcast it to any number of people you know or are merely acquainted with. Find an embarrassing email? A weird image? Share it with the world. Encourage others to copy and paste. That’s how memes develop.
Ah yes, I love the smell of Internet in the morning!
However sometimes people “abuse” copyright and don’t properly credit artists or seek artists’ permission to use their works — a fact caused in part by the extreme lag and lack of ductility inherent in the law. So it goes.
Thankfully, we’ve born witness to the rise of Creative Commons, and many artists, writers — and poorly labeled “content creators” — are rightly jumping onboard. However, this still makes accessing and using older works complicated, and the notion of mashing these older works up with new stuff is typically met with extreme skepticism, if not extreme litigation. Still, [sometimes] anonymous mash-up auteurs soldier on, for their love of music or film (or whatever they’ve managed to mash-up) — of new permutations and potentials for collaborations that never were.
My first exposure to mash-ups was a really good one — exemplary, in fact. It wound up being one of the more popular music mash-ups to date. It caused a stir in the copyrights and copyfights communities. It launched a DJ’s career at least somewhat. It’s even stood the test of time.
It was DJ Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album, a mash-up of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the Beatles:
After The Grey Album, I was hooked. I managed to stumble upon mash-up master dj BC from Boston, who did an unbelievable mash-up of Dixieland Jazz with the Wu-Tang Clan called Wu Orleans. And once you hear Wu-Tang rappin’ along side to The Dirty Dozen Brass Band you’ll never look at ODB and crew the same again:
(Admittedly the version above isn’t synced correctly, but you get the scope of radness, I hope.)
Next, dj BC cranked out the second “Beastles” album he’d done, this one called Let It Beast. The Beatles were back, only this time they were benefitting from the outstanding lyricism of my favourites: the Beastie Boys:
Most recently, I’ve come across Jaydiohead and the Hood Internet. My friend Pauly’s even gotten into the mash-up scene and started a site called Paulcasts (and by the way, he’s definitely an unplucked gem. Share and share often). If Pauly’s any indication of the passion mash-up artists have for music, then only good can come from this. And though the frothing foaming mouths of hungry litigators seem, for the moment at least, less pervasive than they did even a few years ago, you can bet your ass the old-man-run record labels still haven’t figured out what to make of all of this.
What they’ve failed to make, also, is money — which they could be doing by the truckload, I suspect, if only they had the brains to collect the very best mash-up artists, pay them handsomely, and earn a tidy sum off their talents. Or, since the landscape of ownership has changed so much and the methods of production and distribution are cheap as free, at least find some way to encourage this and try and earn revenue off royalties — nothing exorbitant and extortionist like the Big Labels’ halcyon days of money-swimming à la Scrooge McDuck (himself a mash-up of Donald Duck and Mr. Lodge from the Archie Comics, I think) — but enough to feed the necessary mouths and turn a princely, if not kingly, profit.
Alas, after all the time since Napster, LimeWire, and Bit Torrent, no one’s figured it out. So people continue to hide and seek and steal. And download and share. And culture propogates across the virtual landscape, onto MP3 players, USB keys and maybe even the radio waves (at least the college ones) into the real landscape. And I think this is a good thing, this building upon of culture, this combination of ideas and sounds.
Besides, I’m dying to hear whose lyrics can be mashed up with the Beatles’ music next…