RiP! A remix manifesto

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      A documentary by Brett Gaylor. Rated PG. Opens Friday, March 20, at the Ridge Theatre

      As someone points out early in this provocative and fast-moving documentary, writers are rarely criticized for referencing Shakespeare or Herman Melville. And yet computer-savvy musicians can be legally hounded for stitching together snippets of older records to create something new.

      Watch the trailer for RiP! A remix manifesto.

      In RiP! A remix manifesto, B.C.’s innovative Brett Gaylor argues persuasively that the organic, self-starting nature of creativity, especially in the connected age, is stifled when corporations put toll booths on every stretch of the information highway. Even if there are quick visits with people getting sued by megacorps for “illegally” downloading 99-cent songs, the tone here is much more celebratory than tragic.

      Gaylor uses several guides for this colourful, NFB–funded film. The most illustrative is Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, a Pittsburgh-based mashup artist—science geek by day, star DJ at night—whose amazingly deft audio collages offer polemics you can dance to. Less hip but more to the legal point is Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons, advocates of widening the public domain, whose interests held more sway until the media conglomerates figured out how to corner the market on piracy.

      Also aboard are social critic Corey Doctorow, as well as some profit whores from the other side, including Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, seen delivering an antidownloading screed that he has every right to regret. And the filmmaker talks to music star Gilberto Gil, then serving as culture minister for Brazil, where patent and copyright laws are being weighed against the greater good. Gaylor spends perhaps a little too much time in Latin America, although the optimism he finds there is contagious. In any case, viewers are invited to remix the movie to personal tastes at Because, you know, fair is fair.