Danger Mouse’s project, The Grey Album, created quite a stir within the media industry because of our eschewed understanding and enforcement of copyright laws. The issues mainly revolved around the conflict of whether or not the album should have been protected under artistic expression or removed for stealing another group’s copyrighted material. I am going to take a stand from the start arguing that the album should be protected for many reasons, however, none more salient than the very nature of the postmodern landscape which we all inhabit.
Scholars for years have been discussing the implications of living in a postmodern society dominated by the image in which all we have to base ourselves and the world around us on are the images or experiences already in circulation. Fredrick Jameson’s nomenclature of the “pastiche” on creative materials follows the logic of the collage wherein nothing is entirely original because what we create is inherently borrowed from or influenced by some other source and consequently expanded upon; therefore, the only way to truly create something “new” is by way of pastiche. If this is truly the case in our society (I believe it is), then copyright laws, as they are exercised in today’s music industry, act to suppress the only form of creativity left in the world. (Click here for a brief explanation of Jameson’s pastiche)
I realize this claim is a bit extreme and I understand how copyright laws help to ensure an artist’s property rights, however, the way the record labels in the Danger Mouse case reacted do not reflect the artist’s best interest but their own. Even though the DJ took Jay Z and The Beatle’s music the project should not have been suppressed but rather used economically to gain revenues and consequently used as remuneration for all the artists that have contributed. In that case we could foster creativity while still maintaining copyright law/intellectual property for the right reason.
Let me give an example of why copyright law is becoming too harshly enforced. This is a link to the video of the “Four Chord Song” in which many of the popular songs from different eras used the exact same chord progression! Following the logic of the music industry and copyright law, Elton John’s “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” stole from Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and should be removed all public forums—what a loss for The Lion King. In conclusion all I know is that the music industry doesn’t feel the love tonight, and that I have stopped believing in copyright laws.
ps. Speaking of The Lion King, remember Hamlet? I think there are some similarities there too... See what I mean. Mickey Mouse is a criminal too. Nothing is entirely original! It's all a conspiracy! AHHHHHHHH!!!