Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Copyright Within the Film and Music Industry

We were recently given a short presentation by our Year tutor sharing an understanding of the copyright laws in the Uk. I will start by sharing a general understanding of the laws. Interestingly, there are no compulsory legal processes required to register your work to be copyright protected. In the UK this law applies automatically. If work is shared on the web however, it is a good idea to put somewhere "name © year." Generally, the creator owns their work's copyright. This can be the creative director, also the producer in film, or the studio who has funded the project.

Often controversially, within the music there is a culture of recycling or 'sampling' existing work in genre's such as Hip-hop and techno brava, which is very popular in Brazil. The question is whether sampling encourages fresh new creative work, or whether it simply produces uninspired throw-away media.

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of sampling is the album 'Paul's Boutique' by 'The Beastie Boys.' The album consisted of 105 song samples, which where mostly cleared but at very low prices compared to todays laws. Despite consisting of so many sound clips from existing media, the album received positive reviews.

The channel 'Sky Arts' explored sampling and file sharing within today's music culture with the program "Good Copy, Bad Copy.' An example they used of sampling was Jay-Z's 'The Black album', which was mashed together with the Beatle's famous 'The White Album' by Hip-hop artist 'Danger Mouse' to produce 'The Grey Album.' Here is an example of one of the tracks from the album which combines Jay-Z's '99 problems' with The Beatle's 'Helter-Skelter.' Even Sir Paul McCartney himself said he felt fine with the project, which must show some creative integrity toward's the artist of the album:

Taking the idea of sampling to new levels of creativity in my opinion is Gotye, shown creating the album 'Making Mirrors' in this video documentary:

What is interesting about Gotye's approach is that his samples are not taken from existing popular songs, but from obscure vinyl from decades gone by. This likely negates any copyright breaches and gives Gotye free reign with exciting and inspiring sounds. We see him in the video experimenting with world music, combining a Taiwanese traditional song with a sampled turkish drum sound. This is another interesting element of Gotye's creative process. He not only takes samples from existing songs but also samples the acoustic instruments he owns. We see him sampling a small harp and programming each note into a midi keyboard. This takes the original instrument out of context, giving it a more unique staccato sound as appose to a strumming sound as he explains how the harp would conventionally be played.

It seems that Gotye's intentions are not to take existing commercial songs and use them almost as a motif to sell his work, which we see in some modern chart music. It seems he simply shows a passion towards vintage and analog sounds which he applies creatively in his music. There are copyright laws which see this potential for sharing and recycling media in a creative context. In particular, the creative commons license encourages the idea of allowing others access to your work whilst giving credit to the creator. At the same time, it encourages the person who expands on your original idea to apply the same conditions to their take, so the that the original concept is passed on and creatively built-on with varied insight and input.

It could be argued that ownership is hard to establish. Simply look at genre in film. Common theme's are repeated countless times and some cases films are even referenced and quoted. Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in the West' famously referenced existing western classics in an ironic manner. On top of that, Tarantino shot his film 'Inglorious Basterds' in the distinctive style of Leone's western movies, showing wide picturesque valleys and then cutting to striking close-ups of the characters within the scene. 

In conclusion, I believe that in a generation where many strong ideas have already been established, it is an equally exciting concept to see these ideas taken in to new contexts, resulting in original creative media.

No comments:

Post a Comment