Copyright Criminals

Submitted by martha on March 21, 2010 – 8:49pm

We are really pleased to announce that we will be co-hosting with ECUAD and W2 a screening of this PBS documentary film Copyright Criminals. On April 18th at 7pm join us at W2 for a screening followed by a q&a with the producer Kembrew McLeod. Among other things Kembrew writes about copyright at least as coherently and with a good deal more wit than many. His knowledge of music and musical cultures especially oral traditions and hip-hop are demonstrated in this film that takes a nuanced look at music sampling and copyright. The film avoids some of the easy polarities that limit RiP: A Remix Manifesto. Copyright Criminals presents the views of the some of the most sampled artists in history including the drummer Clyde Stubblefield who reminds all of us that artists are not in it for the money. In his book, Freedom of Expression (a phrase for which he holds the registered trademark in the US) Kembrew writes: “Courts and Congress have already carved out many safe spaces for intellectual property law. The problem is that we are often blind to the openings the law provides or we censor ourselves, even when no clear and present danger is imminent. And when an actual cease and desist letter . . . falls into our laps we tend to back down, even when there’s a good chance of prevailing. For the most part, this is not the fault of the law itself, but the way it is interpreted by brand bullies and other enemies of creativity. By not defending ourselves, we are complicit in letting our freedom erode when it doesn’t have to be so.” The mission I have set myself personally and what I hope will be shared by all those who participate in the Artists Legal Outreach is a committment to informing creators about those safe spaces and ensuring that there is advice and information available to all those who create. Join us for the conversation with Kembrew on April 18th.

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