Remix culture has always been around, and is clearly growing thanks to the “…explosion of mashup-style practices [brought about] by modern computing technologies.” (Bruns A, 2010). More and more, you’re not hearing original tracks on your top 40 radio station, but more than likely a remix. Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey is a perfect example of this, with the Cedric Gervais remix being the track that really gained traction in the popular music world. Not too many years ago, remixes were reserved for late night dance programs on radio stations some of us didn’t even know existed, and now some remixes are so popular that they even re-create music videos for them (EG: Lana Del Rey Below)
Another section in remix culture is the idea of the mash up – Where an artist creates a new song either entirely or partially with works from other musicians. One artist who’s made a name from himself doing just this is Girl Talk, who’s multiple albums consist entirely of mashed-up pieces.
Mash Up works such as Girl Talks releases (such us Unstoppable, 2004 and All Day, 2010) raise questions about copyright and if it’s okay for him to sell a song that is literally a bunch of other songs stuck together in a way that actually sounds decent. Surely you’d think musicians and record labels might be a little annoyed that they are not getting a cut of the profits. This however, is where the copyright principle of ‘Fair use’ comes into play.
Fair use is essentially the idea that you should be allowed to use small sections or snippets of a copyrighted work, usually for commentary or critical purposes without permission, and if the copyright holder disagrees with your view of ‘fair use’ they have the opportunity to sue.
This raises an interesting question in the context of this post – Why has no one sued Girl Talk for his use of copyrighted tracks? One view is that the music industry is scared to, because if I court ruled in Girl Talk’s favour, it would likely change how the public used music and could lead to less avenues for the record labels and musicians to make money from their works. In other words, they’re picking their battles.