UGH. It’s so hard to answer this question, because I am thinking about this on the larger scale, not just about Girl Talk. Aside from the fact that I think his music is TERRIBLE, I listened to “Night Ripper” in its entirety on YouTube and could barely sit through it, but just because I don’t personally care for it doesn’t mean that nobody does. Pretty much all of life is just recreations and samples from other parts and other people; especially art and culture. So in that way of thinking I fully support his style and business, and leave it up to the listeners to decide whether or not to partake. However, there was a lot of time, money, thought, and man hours put into the creations of each and every one of the songs he uses, without permission, and on that note—I do not agree at all. If I was one of the artists of the original songs I would be pretty annoyed that someone was sampling my music, without my permission, to make an”original” work of art.
As you noticed the quotations over original, I don’t believe his works fall into the classification of original simply because he didn’t transform them enough. When breaking glass, plastic or any other materials to make a mosaic, you are completely transforming those pieces into an original work of art. The previous piece has to lose enough of its original integrity and identity in order to be used into another piece, and I don’t feel like Girl Talk does that at all.
Back to the point though, if he is able to obtain permission from every single artist he samples, then there is legally and morally nothing wrong with what he is doing. However, since he isn’t doing that it raises the question of violation. BUT then thinking back to it, as the manifesto said “Culture always builds on the past”. Which I stated earlier was very true. I’m trying so hard to avoid the question right now, but for sake of the assignment, shotgun to my head if I was a judge, I would call it theft, a violation of copyright law and not allow him to record or sell it in the future.
All of this as you imagined definitely leads to copyright being the single most important legal consideration in our digital environment. Although we have the societal factors and moral reasons to allow for free expression and the use and reuse of the previous in order to grow a better tomorrow, what are the definitive lines in the sand for this issue? I have an iPhone, if someone walks up, takes it, then starts using it it would be considered stealing, no? Therefore what is the legal definition and physical representation of our intellectual property? If I spend my whole life working on the perfect song, writing each lyric from my heart and own experiences—just to have Girl Talk mash it with the latest Taylor Swift song and call it original, I wouldn’t be okay with that at all. Copyright can both help and impede the creative process, from what I just stated of upholding one’s creation, to severely inhibiting one from moving forward if someone manages to invoke copyright on something that isn’t so black and white as the previous example.
The copyright infringement lawsuit has gotten to such a ridiculous level that CBS is suing one social media user for posting stills from a 1948 episode of Gunsmoke.
Althought this previous example rom CBS is an extreme case, and as you will read very revengeful, it still leaves the fact that although CBS’ lawsuit is quite ridiculous, it is technically true, and the user is technically in the wrong. With the lines between fair use, Creative Commons and actual copyright blurring each day there are no solid laws or guidelines in place where someone could confidently create an artistic project without fear of infringement. Moving forward, with the ease of access we now have to almost everything every published anywhere on the web, it is only going to get more and more difficult to place blame and hold people accountable to copyright.