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Radiohead vs. The Matrix vs. Copyright law

Canadian Vancouver Sun reports about the rumblings of resistance to the idea of intellectual property: Two writers take aim at copyright law, one more convincingly than the other.

One of the most popular shows at the late, lamented Blinding Light Cinema was a unique performance called Radiohead vs. the Matrix. In it, the Vancouver filmmaker Nicholas Podbrey screened the martial arts/science fiction movie The Matrix while manually switching between the original soundtrack and five different albums by Radiohead, the electronica/rock band. The resulting experience was somehow greater than the sum of its parts, the eerie music matched with exciting visuals.

Technically, Podbrey wasn’t altering any of these works; he was merely playing a movie and some albums at the same time in a members-only theatre. Still, he made a point of getting permission from both Radiohead and Warner Bros.

He thinks of Radiohead vs. the Matrix mainly as a live performance but has considered making a DVD combining the images and music. That would be a far different matter — one that could move Podbrey out of the realm of fair use and into that of felony.

Technology created over the last few years makes cultural expressions like this possible. It also makes it possible to distribute those expressions around the world, without the permission of copyright holders. Copyright law, which regulates intellectual property, is struggling to catch up but is also widely missing the mark.

[thanks Alex]

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