Monday, February 25, 2008

The Chronicles of Riddick Was a Crappy Movie Anyway

Going through Prof. Strate's bulletin board on our trusty "Interactive Rams" group I couldn't help but read his re-telling of the "YOU" poem incident. I think Prof. Strate's strong points coupled with the accuser's continuous poor grammar more than reinforce the honesty of professor Strate's claims. But moreover, I couldn't help but wonder if this guy was accusing the poem of being stolen after it was received so publicly. By this I mean, if the poem hadn't garnered any attention at all would this issue even had come up? This got me recalling a documentary clip that was shown to me a year ago by Professor McCourt in my Electronic Media class. This incident Professor Strate posted about demonstrates the sticky and ambiguous nature of ownership, copyright and trademark in the digital domain. With so many more venues on the internet expanding the realm of creativity and expression, the notion of originality and ownership continue to become blurred. The clip I was shown is entitled "Amen Brother Break" and deals with the complexity and significance of these issues. 
The basic outline of the clip traces the far-reaching history of a drum sample known as the Amen Break. The sample originates from a 1960's song entitled "Amen Brother" by the music group, The Winstons. Yet despite being created over 40 years ago, the break has permeated successfully into various musical genres of our culture in the last decade; including Hip-Hop, Electronica, Rock and R&B. The clip shows how thanks to the advent of sampling technology this break has been transformed in a variety of ways impacting numerous types of musical genres and sub-cultures, even going as far as reaching the advertising realm. Furthermore, it was the freedom of this musical sampling and reconstruction, due primarily to the ineffectiveness with which sampling was seen that allowed such a prominent period of growth through this break. I don't want to spoil the main points this clip brings up so I won't go into it much further, but it brings up powerfully interesting ideas about the importance of creative freedom in the face of copyright and the extent to which it should overplay or underplay the use of sampling. 
I think powerful connections can be made since so much of this piece addresses issues of ownership and use in the digital realm. I hope you all enjoy!

1 comment:

Lance Strate said...

That's a great video, thanks for adding it here. And it's absolutely true that the new media really undermine intellectual property through the ease of digital duplication, manipulation, recombination. I wrote a book chapter on Cut, Copy, and Paste that finally came out just recently, arguing that those are the three ubiquitous tools that define the new media environment.

Of course, these considerations are quite distinct from the case of my poem, in which case the accuser was a complete loser (ha ha) and had no idea what he was talking about. One point of connection, though, is that there are periodic cases of genuine plagiarism, it being so easy to copy and paste, and people in the MySpace poetry blogging community get very upset and noisy about it, condemning and circling the wagons and all. And that had lead to a bit of hysteria, where this fellow seems to have jumped on the bandwagon. Some have suggested, as you implied, that he just did it to get attention, but personally I just think it's ignorance and egotism.

Oh, and I like that movie, myself.