Copyright criminals.

Browsing the site of University of Iowa professor Kembrew McLeod, best known for trademarking the phrase "freedom of expression" (and then sending out cease-and-desist letters to those who infringe upon it), I came upon a documentary he made in February with Ben Franzen. Called Copyright Criminals, it's an excellent primer on intellectual property and the perils of sampling music. Filled with friends and heroes—Lawrence Lessig, Siva Vaidhyanathan, DJ Spooky, Greg Tate (of the Village Voice and Burnt Sugar), Saul Williams, Carrie McLaren (of StayFree!), Miho Hatori from Cibbo Matto, the TC's own Eyedea and Abilities, Public Enemy's Harry Allen, Scanner, and others—it looks at the history, law, and potential future for the use of copyrighted music in hip-hop and pop. I especiallly like when Shock G of Digital Underground says, "How many comedians tell the same joke? Nobody says, 'Hey, that's my knock-knock joke. That's my mama joke. That's my political joke.' Jokes are free."

For now, they are.

[Go straight to the movie file.]

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