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Girl Talk: Art or Theft?

Girl Talk: Art or Theft?

Girl Talk, aka Gregg Gillis, who, as the NY Times describes him, “makes danceable musical collages out of short clips from other people’s songs,” has built a career out of other people’s work by reconfiguring it into incredibly clever, ADD type juxtapositions that are fun to listen to for their familarity while also humorous because of the way Gillis excitedly matches up songs and their beats from such strikingly different genres.

NYT’s Robert Levine explores if this is all legal. It made me wonder how the film world would react if a filmmaker simply took scenes from movies and reconstituted them for their own intent. Could someone build a comprehensible feature out of grabs from 100 years of Cinema? (I’ve seen this in different experimental films before, or film remixes, like some of DJ Spooky’s work, but can’t think of a Girl Talk equivalent.)

Also, as the article examines, has copyright law become too stringent or is Gillis’ argument of fair use valid?

As digital technology makes it easier to “swipe” samples of practically anything available one can see how this will become a bigger issue, especially in the YouTube world where users constantly do their own mashups of TV shows, recut scenes from films with different music, etc.

The above YouTube user even has made a music video for one of Girl Talk’s songs featuring all the original videos for the samples he uses.

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