Just in time for the sections on intellectual property and fair use in my “Information Technology Ethics” class, the Israeli artist Kutiman released a brilliant collection of YouTube video mashups called “Thru You” (his site has been down due to traffic, but the mashups are also available here and here).
Kutiman has taken existing YouTube videos of people playing music alone, sampled, looped, mixed and mashed them together to make absolutely amazing new music. Here’s a sample:
These songs are genius. They are original. Yet, most interpretations of existing copyright laws would conclude that Kutiman violated the copyrights of the original uploaders (however, perhaps some uploaded with a Creative Commons license?).
The spirit and original intent of copyright and fair use is to encourage creativity, and it would be tragic to think that Kutiman’s creations aren’t transformative in such a way as to be allowed under our current intellectual property regime.
It’s hard not to agree with the sentiments expressed at P2P News: “Copyright is an unethical constraint on society’s cultural liberty and those societies who choose to remain bound by it choose cultural stagnation and obscurity.”