2013 recap – October – creating new from old, if copyright lets us…

October now on our 2013 recap and we are looking at one of our favourite talks fron the wonderful TEDx Brighton – all about creating new fron old – and whether copyright law actually lets us…

One of my most favourite talks at TEDx Brighton last week was by Chris Evans-Roberts from Ithaca Audio – a Brighton based music production company which specialises in the remixing of audio and visual clips to create new, mashup styled content. This appeals not only to my creative brain, but also to my contemporary classical musical brain – the two of which occasional have outings together along a similar sampling / mashup way.

Using a short 2 bar clip from the Shaft theme, Evans-Roberts demonstrated how similar the musical structure was to a section of the Imperial Theme from Star Wars by (personal hero) John Williams.

Very similar indeed. They fitted.

So you can overlay each one, with a few others and create something entirely new – from a mound of carefully collected, curated and clipped samples. (for the geeks out there, my favourite at present is the pounding string section in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and the main theme to Jaws. Pretty much identical. Note to self – will have to do something with this)

Add into the mix the video clips and a live mash up performance and you have got a real performance, based on the (previous) work of others.

But, due to copyright law, is this allowed? Is it a perfect example of the creative recycling of audio and visual, or is it theft? We are so used to creating pieces that we share immediately with everyone that we are growing to expect that sharing is allowed. Sharing feels encouraged, but can we create new pieces from this shared content and how does the law fit in?

Evans-Roberts demonstrated the frustrations with standard copyright laws, which are so hugely complicated that there is not often one answer.

But could that be changed? With Creative Commons licensing, creators can choose to allow people to use – and build on – their work. You can encourage people to develop it.

And why is this really exciting? Because it shows a new way of thinking about the generation of content, and new content in that. And whilst this stretches to audio, visual content, could it stretch further in the future? Could we put design – in the widest sense – into the realms of CC licencing? Could this be the foundation that a flood of open source thinking can spring from with design?

It is a fascinating area indeed, and one that we think will really influence the design sphere…

(video by Ithaca Audio)