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Old 6th Jun 2007, 13:51   #1
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Default Good Copy Bad Copy

Ooooh, another copyfight documentary!

Yes, I know, I keep going on and on and on about it, but this one really does warrant its own review, I promise. I've listened and attended many a lecture, read many an op-ed piece, and chuckled at many a cheeky Tshirt regarding this subject. I'm sure I've bored many a Palimper too, but I assure you all that this 58-minute film will expose you to many a sub-subject which I haven't seen or ranted about before.

Directed by Andreas Johnsen, Ralf Christensen, and Henrik Moltke, the basic premise of Good Copy Bad Copy is that of a documentary exploring what's up with cultural production these days. You know - how we create and distribute cultural work of all kinds. Sampling, privacy, music and information technology, record labels, business models, promotion, live performance, compensation, and so on are all looked at through the eyes of intellectual experts, business representatives, and on-the-ground artists involved with cultural production itself.

The usual faces are on display: Dangermouse, Lawrence Lessig, John Buckman, and so on. A few noticable absences are Gilberto Gil, anyone from the EFF and everyone's favourite copyfight revolutionary Cory Doctorow. The faces left are by no means disappointing, though. Indeed - it was refreshing to see some new ones! My favourite character interviewed is almost certainly the moustachioed Dr Lawrence Ferrarra, the director of NYU's music department, who looks a wonderful cross between a charming 1920s gent or a slightly sinister Cardinal Richelieu type. There are dozens of interesting folk in there: the director of the MPAA, a politician from Sweden's Pirate Party, a Nigerian film producer, lawyers, a Russian pirate, and of course dozens of artists from around the world.

...And it really is an international film. The whole thing starts off on fairly regular ground - an exploration of the legality of sampling in the USA, but rapidly moves on to an interview with good old Dangermouse (who will - I'm sure - be looked back on as possibly the most important musician of the Noughties) and a quick look at his Grey Album and subsequent rise to stardom. We're quickly whisked off to Russia and Sweden for discussions of piracy markets, privacy and intervention from international governments, before heading on to the movie studios of developing Nigeria and the Tecno Brega music scene in Brazil. Finally we are brought back to Pittsburgh where Girl Talk, who we've been chatting with from the start, is given a new brazillian remix of a song by none other than Dangermouse. His first reaction, of course, is 'oooooh, what can I take from this....'

The footage from Nigeria and Brazil was particularly new and fascinating for me, but the whole documentary is crammed with interesting footage and opinions from all sides of the debate about copyright and cultural production in the twenty first century. What you are left with is not so much a rallying cry, but a fascinating insight into just how many different stories of cultural production there are to tell around the world, and of how there is far from a single approach to the ways in which we produce culture.

It would be nice to think they might show this on telly, but I suspect it might be a while...

The most engaging documentary I've seen on this subject so far, and it crams a lot in to less than an hour.

official website link
...including a (fairly dull) trailer and torrent link for the full movie - free! Hurrah!
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