Posts Tagged ‘copyright’

Review: RIP! A remix manifesto

March 20, 2009

Who should see this film?
Although it’s a manifesto, which carries some radical undertones, the documentary is more of a journalistic piece that explores our human connection. Anyone interested in development in the areas of health and science should see this film. If you’re interested in developing nations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), Empire, American trade policy/strategy, and understanding why North American manufacturing jobs are disappearing, you should see this film. If you like to party, if you like to get down, you should see this film. And finally, if you’ve ever heard, read, or seen anything produced for your consumption and thought it could have been done better, you should see this film.

In Vancouver it’s playing at the Ridge starting tonight. I saw it last night at District 319. If you’re in Vancouver and you like film, you should check out this venue. There’s a bar area where you can talk before and after the film, even the theatre area is licensed. Canada Screens has a line-up of films at this venue.

The review
The documentary starts with a personal reflection, and I had a sinking feeling. I’d seen My Winnipeg, and although I liked that film, I wasn’t really in the mood for another deep piece of Canadian-artist narcissism. But this didn’t happen at all, in fact the initial personal piece went no where, and the “artist” seems to lose control, or disappear, or maybe the subjects themselves take over. The history of the copyleft movement takes over. The whole issue of copyright, intellectual property rights, opens up as the film goes on, and remain open. The film maker’s intentional practice urges us to continue the discussion, to actually become creative in the process of discovering our world.

Before the film, Brett Gaylor, in a video introduction from Montreal, said our viewing experience should be participatory. We were to boo the bad guys and cheer for the good guys. Very little of this happened, but the participatory ethos of the filmmakers, was embedded in the subject of the film. You can remix the film on line. It’s an interesting experiment in a resistance movement against corporate control of what we can do with our experiences, how we can express ourselves in a mediated language that surrounds us, speaks to us, and is owned and controlled by corporations.

The good
The scene in the boat with the Clinton administration wag. This was good. This was intelligent, brilliant documentary work. This guy told us the strategy of the american government when it came to intellectual property, the information economy. WTO. The american government gave up its manufacturing sector, by allowing free trade, opening up its borders to imports with the agreement that all its trade partners would follow its patent and copyright laws.

And the Brazil scenes were all great. Brazil copies AIDS treatment, messing with pharmaceutical corporations. The business model, the profit paradigm, is not fair. It’s inhumane and wrong. That a government chooses to resist corporate domination to give medicine to citizens who need it. It’s a start.

And the scenes dealing with science, the idea that ideas that could be beneficial to the public were locked away in a corporate hold. This was good informative stuff. It’s current and gives us an argument here in Canada for fighting funding cuts for science.

The bad
As a manifesto for a resistance movement, I’ve got a complaint against the filmmaker. There was a rave scene where kids are dancing and the narrator says something like (I need to see the film again to make this a little more accurate) “the dancing kids are exercising their right to culture” or some such thing, it was a complete fabrication. Kids are mindlessly (and this isn’t a value judgement) dancing (is a liberating experience, fuck, let loose) and the narrator imposes some form of the manifesto on them. As far as propaganda goes, sure that’s fine, look at the numbers on this side of the copyleft movement. But for organization, for creating a movement, there needs to be a more strict measure of reality. It does no good to create illusions.

I’ve been complaining for years about the quality of journalism. Paper, television and radio news, lack a quality of depth, a quality that I think is necessary for understanding our world as opposed to being confused by the news of it. Yes. I do realize that I should be making this quality journalism myself if I’ve got such a problem with it. I understand that. But do you understand how hard it is to do the type of work I’ve got in mind? I’m talking journalism that illuminates. Journalism that goes to the root of a problem, finds connections with other problems. A journalism that digs to understand the complexity of our problems and then explores possible complex solutions. This isn’t pyramid style journalism. This isn’t segmented journalism. This is journalism with a memory, an open archive, and collaborative practices. This is the exact opposite of corporate journalism as it’s practised today. And this is why, if we want a better press, we need a revolution. RIP! A remix manifesto is the kind of journalism we need.

The conclusion
We need the RIP! kind of journalism because it’s open and freely exploring, and is given to us as a starting point where we can begin our exploration. It’s a practice of journalism that allows us to take the weak stories, closed stories, and add depth, find connections and explore solutions. Who is working on this problem and what are they doing that we can do? What are our alternatives?

Not knowing when to stop…
Here’s an example of good journalism. This is Robert Scales on Vancouver’s housing crisis. Something like this could be the start of a movement to understand the root of the problem. Speaking of housing, There’s a march this April 4. Details to come.

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Ending the War on Sharing

February 17, 2009

Richard Stallman spoke on the issue of community and copyright law. After Kate Milberry asked if the practice of software development and sharing he’d been talking about can be applied in the wider world. Stallman replied that his whole talk has been about that very question. Stallman refused to make the links between his issue and larger liberatory movements. He is pushing one issue. There are other issues, but he will leave those to the interested parties.

Some ideas Stallman dropped – Don’t use their terms. Once you take on the terms of the status quo you reproduce dominant meaning. The terms themselves contain meaning that limits our freedoms. We need to develop a language of freedom. The concept of an alternative language.

Fighting the war on sharing. Sharing is anti-capitalist. Sharing is socialist. Sharing removes the price fetish of capitalist imaginary.

Vancouver, BC

(Here’s a liveblog of one of Stallman’s talks in Vancouver: humminbird604)

Another software related presentation: Jim Andrews spoke in the New Media Building. The talk is well blogged here. After hearing Stallman, Andrews was a disappointment. (Here’s my cut and pasted review of the presentation, originally from gmail chat)

me: The presentation wasn’t that interesting, in and of itself, but there were a number of moments when the philosophical deficiencies in the room became the interest.
social foundation of intelligence.

me: the fear of AI
is the fear of an asocial intelligence
the development of a psychopath
Capitalism does a very similar thing, when people say “makes sense”
what they mean sometimes is “it makes financial sense”
which is a bit asocial and as a result psychopathic
me: I asked the guy if the software he was developing was open source
he said it wasn’t for financial reasons
he wanted to be the only one… but if you’d have seen how derivative his software was…
I didn’t push it for fear of confrontation, telling an artist his work is derivative…
them’s fighting words