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By Ralph Bernardo, guest contributor.  [October 24, 2009]





[]  What would it mean if, ten years ago, we did not have the ability to share files freely online?

Sharing viral videos through a site like YouTube would not exist. Forget about sharing photos with your family and friends on Flickr, and even those ever-present LOLcats.

Would we be listening to music over the Internet on such sites as Pandora, or downloading songs without having to buy the whole album from a virtual "record store" like iTunes?

The Internet is the most effective way human beings have ever devised to share their ideas.

The question of how easy -- or not -- it is for us to share our music, photos, videos, all our creative works or any media -- is the focus of Brett Gaylor's definite documentary of the digital age, Rip! A Remix Manifesto.

Rip! chronicles our media revolution over the last ten years, since a teenager named Shawn Fanning in June 1999 changed the face of entertainment, copyright, and the way we look at the Internet. His problem child, Napster, took the idea of sharing "ideas" -- notably in the form of music -- from the backrooms of bulletin boards to a wider audience -- one hungry in the late 1990s for what they were (not) finding on the radio or "music" television.

If you read the word "Napster" and are thinking "theft" -- Rip! is a film that's not about making all things free and destroying our system of commerce. This documentary is about our cultural transformation from a media system of a few, very expensive means of distribution, to one where anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can be both a consumer and a producer of media.

Gaylor affirms that balance is needed to ensure that Innovation is: 1. encouraged and not stifled, 2. beneficial to all and not just the powerful, and 3. a matter of civic cooperation and not for the criminal justice system.

Just how we can strike this delicate balance, Rip! proposes a Remix Manifesto based on four assertions:

1. Culture always builds on the Past.

2. The Past always tries to Control the Future.

3. Our Future is becoming less Free.

4. To build Free societies, you must limit Control of the Past.


These assertions are supported by captivating studies of several people, including: remix artist Girl Talk; attorney Lawrence Lessig (author of Free Culture, Code 2.0, and Remix); remix activist Cory Doctorow; and remix politician/musician Gilberto Gil (a former Brazilian Minister of Culture, a rare case of a politician who is a contributor to culture and not a controller of it).

Rip! pays more than lip-service to the debate -- it's available for remixing at During the production of Rip!, footage was made available for anyone to create "mash-ups" which found their way into the final film. A participatory media experiment from its inception, says Gayor, "Rip! is an attempt to move beyond the traditional relationship of producer and consumer -- this passive era is over ... Rip! remains an evolving conversation about intellectual property in the digital age."

On the consumer end, Rip! is available in several ways. After premiering at the SXSW Film Festival in March [2009], theatrical screenings were held throughout the U.S. On the filmmaker's directive, a "Name Your Price" campaign exists at where site visitors set their own price (including free) to download Rip! The Disinformation Company has launched digital purchases through iTunes and other platforms, and released the DVD in June.

How viewers would like to experience Rip! is for the individual to decide, and not a few corporate decision-makers.

What will we see from here? Who knows for sure? But the place to start discovering what the future may hold is by watching Brett Gaylor's Rip! A Remix Manifesto.


The Disinformation Company Ltd. is active in TV production, book publishing, and home entertainment. It distributes opinions and facts not usually covered by the traditional media.

Recent DVDs from Disinformation include Michael Moore's Slacker Uprising; Robert Greenwald's Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, and Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War; Robert Baer's The Cult of the Suicide Bomber; the Sean Penn-narrated War Made Easy; and 2012: Science or Superstition.


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