Recycled 80s Live (2008)
Recycled 80s Live is a collage of small fragments of ‘80s pop songs, recomposed and recontextualized into a new, larger work. I chose this approach because artists have always borrowed material from one another, but copyright is increasingly being abused to prevent borrowing. This situation is a threat to culture and creativity in general and it deserves to receive attention.
Copyright has always had two roles, to protect the rights of the creator, but more broadly, to encourage creativity. Without copyright, artists would never be properly rewarded for their work and art would not get made. But without fair dealing provisions (or fair use in the U.S.), copyright law strangles creativity by making artworks inaccessible.
Over the past 100 years, corporate interests have increasingly tried to restrict or remove fair dealing from copyright. Copyright in 1900 was only 14 years long and had to be officially requested. This meant that artists at the time could draw on a huge store of relatively fresh material in their work, leading to the explosion of creativity that marked the birth of Hollywood, the avant-garde, jazz, and more. Now copyright is automatic, can last over 150 years, and legitimate works that use fair dealing are frequently attacked in court by corporate interests. This trend has only accelerated with the rise of digital music technology and file sharing.
For this reason, Recycled 80s Live draws entirely from material still under copyright, without permission. This can be done under fair dealing as long as the new work creates new artistic value and does not take away from the market for the originals. I designed Recycled 80s Live to respect these boundaries, working within the tradition of mash-up artists such as John Oswald or Girl Talk, but with live musicians. My message, to adapt an old adage, is that your right to swing your copyright ends where my music begins.