Sunday, 22 November 2009


Tackling the sticky subject of copyright in the age of the internet, Good Copy Bad Copy was originally screened on Danish TV, but later received an official free BitTorrent release to increase awareness of the subject. The documentary starts with the topic of hip-hop sampling, and various industry know-it-alls give us the case study of Bridgeport v. Dimension Films, a lawsuit decrying N.W.A.’s use of two seconds from a Funkadelic track. The case shook the industry and also called for a complete re-evaluation of copyright law. Mention is also made of Danger Mouse’s non-profit side-project The Grey Album, which remixed The Beatles’ White Album and added vocals from Jay-Z’s Black Album. Before long, we begin discussion of copyright in film, sparking interviews with the founders of illegal peer-to-peer site The Pirate Bay, as well as producers from the famously unmanageable Nigerian film industry.

Given the often amusing nature of these court cases (one attorney tickles himself with the notion of a judge dealing with song titles like “Get Off Your Ass And Jam”), the film is sometimes hard to take seriously, but it makes many interesting points. Creative Commons board member Lawrence Lessig, a frequently-referenced copyright expert, points out that copyright law discourages easy access to older, more obscure material, and in this manner suppresses creativity. At just under an hour, it’s easy to digest and, apart from the interviews with music producer Girl Talk (which are a little too self-congratulatory to be of interest), not a moment is wasted.

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