Tuesday, April 28, 2009

more thoughts on the tool

As I was saying, using online rippers illuminates certain aspects of the nature of ripping files that are somehow isolated and inoculated when using a desktop program, hidden behind the inherent shiny niftiness that most 'widgets' seem to inherit. Its entirely possible that its just me, but something about pasting the url- metadata, a key part of the framework of the object in question-conjures sensations of loopholes and savviness and beating the system. Many of the reviews of online rippers highighted their usefulness in not only breaking copyright law, but circumventing it altogether by serving as a means to capture controversial or otherwise videos before they are taken down by the powers that be. I find the idea of copyright control and censorship on the internet using traditional media as a model to be quite absurd - hell, the film and television industry tried using legislation to stop the first home video recording devices from being mass produced. In my mind, if it is part of the media stream in the grand scheme it is fair game, whether that takes the form of graffiti on an especially nauseating billboard ad or a humorously re-cut trailer of a mainstream film. The now-incredibly-popular street artist Banksy has a fantastic quote about why he defaces advertisements (bear with me here): "You owe the companies nothing. You especially don't owe them any courtesy. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don't even start asking for theirs." Now ripping/remixing isn't vandalism because the original is left intact and not by any stretch are all youtube videos promoting or advertising something, but the idea that someone knowingly put it out there, maybe didn't shove in under your nose, but put it in a public place means I can do what I want with it artistically. Reminiscent of the artists plight: whatever meaning you placed in your work often has no bearing on how people interpret it. Once you put it out there, it is not yours to control anymore - it is the rest of the world's to experience and manipulate and derive meaning from. This is getting long-winded - the fact is with Zamzar and others, not only can you keep your own personal library of videos and have the abilitiy to dodge copyright law, it is absurdly easy and fun to generate remixed or reappropriated content and contribute to the leveling of the playing field. It is your right as a human introduce your own viewpoint to the conversation. Here is a means.

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