Droplift FAQ

updated 12/9/2011

N© 2000 The Droplift Project. No rights are reserved, and duplication is encouraged.

This document can be copied in whole or in part at anyone's discretion.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information in this document is accurate.
The Droplift Project is not responsible for printing or clerical errors.

The Droplift Project

Additional information may be had through the regular mail at this address:

Naked Rabbit World Power Foundation

There are no copyrights, trademarks, service marks, or registered names to be acknowledged in this document.

Electronically published simultaneously everywhere.


      I Introduction

    1. Who?
    2. What?
    3. When?
    4. Where?
    5. Why?
    6. How?

      II Droplift Who?

    1. Who came up with the name "droplift"?
    2. Who designed the project?
    3. Who created the Droplift Project website?
    4. Who are the artists featured on the album?
    5. Who else has contributed to the project?

      III Droplift What?

    1. What is droplifting?
    2. What is the Droplift Project?
    3. What was the press release about the Droplift Project?
    4. What are the tracks on the Droplift Project disc?
    5. What are the bonus tracks?
    6. What does the album artwork look like?
    7. What does it say on the liner notes?
    8. What is fair use? How does it apply to sampling?
    9. What is wrong with the copyright law?

      IV Droplift When?

    1. When did the project originate?
    2. When was the album released to the public?
    3. When will it all end?
    4. When has the project been mentioned in the media?

      IV Droplift Where?

    1. Where are the artists on the Droplift Project located?
    2. Where can I find a copy of the Droplift Project?
    3. Where can I find the Droplift Project on the Internet?
    4. Where can I find other music by the artists on the Droplift Project?
    5. Where can I find other Droplift Project merchandise?
    6. Where can I find other websites related to the Droplift Project?

      V Droplift Why?

    1. Why droplift?
    2. Why do some of the songs on the disc end abruptly?

      VI Droplift How?

    1. How can I contact the Droplift Project?
    2. How can I distribute the Droplift Project in my area?
    3. How can I link my site to the Droplift Project?
    4. How can I donate funds to the Droplift Project?
    5. How can I help the project in other ways?

I Introduction


The Droplift Project consists of nearly 30 audio collage artists from different cities. Each takes pieces of television, movies, music, or other recordings and recombines them to create works of parody, critical commentary, and new art.


The Droplift Project is a compilation of tracks by these audio collage artists. It has been introduced to the public through a technique called "droplifting"; this means that the discs are smuggled in and left in the racks of record stores without their knowledge.


The album was released on the weekend of July 28, 2000. Additional copies of the disc are still being droplifted into stores all over the world.


Everywhere! Droplift operatives around the globe are targeting chain stores and mass outlets where experimental and unusual music is not often sold. Or, if you can't find it, the whole album is available for free download at the official Droplift website : http://www.droplift.org/audio.html


The Droplift Project is a way for artists to be heard, by subverting the current method of music distribution. It is a way that thought-provoking and challenging works by traditionally marginalized experimental musicians can be slipped into the mainstream consciousness. Severe copyright restrictions on the use samples in works of audio collage often prevent this type of work from ever reaching the ears of listeners. The members of the Droplift Project feel that these restrictions amount to censorship of an entire artform, and so they have created this art-response to the current relation of artists and lawmakers to the techniques of appropriation, collage, and sampling in music. The artists know that the disc may not be found by the right people, and they know that they will not get paid. But they needed a chance, so they made one.


Anyone who is interested can help out by spreading the word or conducting droplift efforts of their own. A complete Droplift Field Guide has been prepared to explain the art of droplifting and assist in any future efforts : http://www.droplift.org/guide.html


II Droplift Who?

Who came up with the name "droplift"?

"Droplifting" is a term devised by Richard Holland of Turntable Trainwreck and The Institute for Sonic Ponderance. Droplifting is the reverse of shoplifting - and a unique form of music distribution. Richard Holland can be contacted by email at rjholland@students.wisc.edu.

Who designed the project?

The Droplift Project is a collaborative effort involving the contributions of over 50 people. Still, the artwork and mastering for the disc was done by one man - Tim Maloney of the Naked Rabbit World Power Foundation. You can visit the Foundation online at http://www.nakedrabbit.com or contact Tim via email at tim@nakedrabbit.com.

Who created the Droplift Project website?

The Droplift Project website is also the product of the ideas from many different individuals. However, the credit for the design and maintainence of the site goes to "phat_joe" of Social Security. You can contact him by email at fnord@angband.org or on the web at http://ss.area23.com.

Along with phat_joe and Naked Rabbit, Stop Children have also contributed a great of deal of content to the site, including this document. You can find out more about Stop Children at http://stopchildren.droplift.org or contact them via email at stopchildren@droplift.org

And the website would not have been possible without the help of the various Droplift audio file mirror sites: Sensory Research Network, phlo.net, eclectronica.com, and gweep.net. Thank you!

Who are the artists featured on the album?

The following is a list of contact information for the artists that appear on the Droplift Project. Another version of this list is available at : http://www.droplift.org/artists.html

Tim Maloney - tim@nakedrabbit.com - http://www.nakedrabbit.com
Turntable Trainwreck - rjholland@students.wisc.edu
Phineas Narco & Ronald Redball - voicejail@yahoo.com - http://www.nationalcynical.com
The Button - staff@pressthebutton.com - http://www.pressthebutton.com
Reggae Death Squad™ - rds@rds-tm.org - http://www.rds-tm.org
OBE - btm@billtmiller.com - http://billtmiller.com/droplift
Workeshoppe Radio Phonik - fmstereo@broadcast.net - http://www.noncontactneglect.com
Alamout Black - oracle@phlo.net - http://www.mp3.com/alamout
Chris Ball - ball2000@ball2000.com - http://www.ball2000.com
Project Data Control - datacntrol@aol.com - http://datacontrol.cjb.net
Brain Science - http://www.ovenguard.com/music/brain_science/index.shtml
Mind - http://www.sensoryresearch.com
Social Security - ss@area23.com - http://ss.area23.com
Bonefish Sam and his Power Orchestra - bonefish@bonefish-sam.com - http://www.bonefishsam.com
Andy MacMillan - GiantBeer66@hotmail.com - http://www.mp3.com/acm
Ben Burck - benburck@yahoo.com
EMP-T - empt11@hotmail.com
Equatorial - generica@antisocial.com - http://listen.to/equatorial
The Doom Patrol - thedoompatrol@hotmail.com - http://www.mp3.com/thedoompatrol
Dad's New Slacks - dads@me.freei.net
The Cranial Fishers - cranialfishers@geocities.com - http://www.sensoryresearch.com/~craigco/cranialfishers
Entropical Utopia - eu@free-music.com - http://free-music.com/ent
Seditious Halibut Media - monstor@uswest.net
(c)(P)ee - pee@droplift.org - http://www.emotionmixer.org/music
Quiet American - ghede@well.com - http://www.quietamerican.org
Escape Mechanism - escape@detritus.net - http://www.detritus.net/escmech
Kumquat - bigkumquat@aol.com - http://www.nofuncharlie.com/kumquat
Stop Children - stopchildren@droplift.org - http://stopchildren.droplift.org
M-Sli(c)k da ninjA - http://iloveninjas.com/ninja/ninjaemail.html - http://iloveninjas.com/

Who else has contributed to the project?

We would like to give special thanks to some other people who contributed to the project in different ways including Jeffrey Byers, J. Duncan, Barnaby Fry, Matt Keeley, David Lambrecht, M. Lisa Phipps, Joseph Z. Provo, Mark Shull, Jeffrey Stout, John Tribble, Peter Wallace, and all the other Droplifters out there.


III Droplift What?

What is droplifting?

As stated above, "droplifting" is a term coined by Richard Holland of Turntable Trainwreck to describe a unique form of record distribution - the reverse of shoplifting. It involves dropping a disc of your music in the racks of a record store without knowledge of the store's owner or staff. This is a tactic which has been used by Richard to promote releases from his previous project (The Institute for Sonic Ponderance), and we suspect it is something that many different independent musicians have tried at some point to get their work out to the public.

What is the Droplift Project?

The Droplift Project is the subject of this document. It is a unique compilation album of various artists working in the medium of audio collage. It has been specifically designed to be released to the public through this droplift technique and free distribution over the Internet. Because of the legal grey area in regards to sampling in music, the Droplift Project was created as a stunt to raise awareness of the copyright and fair use issues involved in this kind of music - along with exposing some unsuspecting people to the wonderful world of audio collage and the art of the sample.

>From the Droplift Field Guide:

Droplift began in mid-1999 on an email discussion list devoted to audio recordings that included found sound, audio collage, cultural appropriation, media distortion, Surrealist detournement of corporate messages in the media, and other heady topics.

Many of the list participants were involved with sound collage from a creator's standpoint. Many of them had radio shows in which they would perform mixes of various materials, and a lively tape and CDR trade had sprung up.

The reasons for appropriating media and including found recordings have a clear precedent in the other arts, where influences and homages are part of the artist's selection of aesthetic tools. In music, however, this practice has long been considered an outlaw position.

It is no wonder, then, that the members of this list felt a certain frustration about getting their sound recordings out to a public which could appreciate them.

The typical venues for this audio art were few. Handmade editions of a cassette or CDR are wonderful one-of-a-kind objects in and of themselves, but they are time-consuming and tiring to create as well as they inhibit larger distribution of a work. Paying the price for a professional duplication of material is usually a bit high for the creatively-minded individual without a strong bank account or access to financial resources.

Online music venues, which allow an artist to post a compressed file of music for general download have proven disappointing. Instead of promoting free and marginal expression, these services have rather become stodgy, citing obtuse and untried variants of the aging copyright law as reasons to avoid the collagist and refuse his or her tracks.

The Music Industry at large, thoroughly wicked, corrupt, greedy, and slouching like a rough beast � like most corporate industries � was either uninterested in appealing to a less-than-chartbusting profit or sick from worry over the legalities that might be involved in using a snippet of sound not recorded under their own auspices in a studio.

It was looking grim.

Thus Our Project was born. Thirty participants would pool their talents and a little cash to professionally produce a compilation CD. Each participant (and several willing volunteers) would "Droplift" this disc into local CD stores � thereby creating the simultaneous "distribution" all over the world that they so craved.

What was the press release about the Droplift Project?

A press release was sent out to announce the Droplift Project to the world. This is what it said.

>From the Droplift Project press release:

What is the Droplift Project?

The idea came suddenly.

Manufacture our own CDs, go into chain stores, and leave them in the appropriate bins. Down among the established pop hits and top 40 product, these CDs await those curious few who take them to the counter.

Then what? Witness the confused faces of cashiers and customers alike when the CD does not show up in the inventory. But they'll most likely make the sale, and the CD known only as THE DROPLIFT PROJECT will go home with yet another customer. Mission accomplished.

On the weekend of July 28th, 2000, all across the United States and Internationally, ordinary citizens will walk into record stores with copies of THE DROPLIFT PROJECT hidden on their person. They will proceed to leave them, well filed, in the stacks, and they will walk out.

Why do this? Surely the artists know they won't get any MONEY from this puzzling act.

Ah, but perhaps you are starting to understand already.

The artists on THE DROPLIFT PROJECT make and find recordings of the stuff we all hear on radio, TV, in the news, on other CDs and tapes, and from everywhere around us. Then we cut it all up and rearrange it to make new art, social commentary, parody, and contemporary criticism.

It's nothing new. Artists have been making collages for the last hundred years. The world of Fine Art has long recognized the artist's right to use found objects in a new context to make a comment.

The world of music has been a little behind.

Record companies reject our works outright, wishing to avoid unpleasant harassment lawsuits. CD Plants, acting on an RIAA mandate to curb piracy, are skittish about pressing material that might contain recognizable samples. Even free music venues on the Internet refuse to allow sample-based works.

Is it illegal? Depends on who you ask. We know we are protected by the First Amendment and the Fair Use clause of the Copyright Act. Apparently the Music Industry does not follow such things.

The atmosphere of stark panic about the creative reuse of material has really got us in a bind. Our only recourse was to manufacture and distribute a disc on our own.

In this way we find ourselves in the awkward position of acting in a way that is seen by some as criminal.

So here it is! Listen to it! We're not doing this for our health. This is a deliberate attempt not only for our talents to be heard, but to encourage some discussion about artists' use of sound samples in their work. If you like the disc, spread the word! Write an article, play it on your radio show, make tapes for friends, and help us get it out there! You can download the complete album and learn more about the artists on the Droplift Project at http://www.droplift.org

What are the tracks on the Droplift Project disc?

01 - Tim Maloney - Thunderclock - [2:34]
02 - Turntable Trainwreck - Cubicle 38 Droplift Blues - [2:13]
03 - Phineas Narco and Ronald Redball - Free Will - [2:41]
04 - The Button - Familiar Faces - [2:34]
05 - Reggae Death Squad(tm) - Rub My Face - [2:34]
06 - OBE - Recycled Flashback - [2:30]
07 - Workshoppe Radio Phonik - Cute Ass - [2:33]
08 - Alamout Black - Traitors - [2:34]
09 - Chris Ball - Urgent Day Off - [2:39]
10 - Project Data Control - Blame the Media - [2:02]
11 - Brain Science - Monkey Business - [2:29]
12 - Mind - Let's Play a Game - [1:58]
13 - Social Security - Loder Runner (Droplift Flakes) - [2:22]
14 - Bonefish Sam and his Power Orchestra - Mr. T Adventure Story - [3:44]
15 - Andy MacMillan - Untitled - [2:32]
16 - Ben Burck - Sailor Mom - [2:41]
17 - EMP-T - Son of Satan - [2:31]
18 - Equatorial - Long Slow Malcolm - [2:15]
19 - The Doom Patrol - Year of the Rabbit - [2:31]
20 - Dad's New Slacks - Ice Teal - [1:56]
21 - The Cranial Fishers - No Need to Fear - [2:14]
22 - Entropical Utopia - Asshole - [2:34]
23 - Seditious Halibut Media - Marilyn Hanson Part 2 - [2:08]
24 - (c)(P)ee - King Brian - [1:31]
25 - Quiet American - Checkmate - [2:32]
26 - Escape Mechanism - Elf Song - [3:00]
27 - Kumquat - Everyone is Afraid of Clowns - [2:10]
28 - Stop Children - To the Fullest Extent of the Law - [2:36]
29 - M-Sli(c)k da ninjA - Wannabe (DE((c)on)ST(r)U(c)TIVE (r)EMIX) - [2:33]

What are the bonus tracks?

The Droplift Project disc contains a bonus secret mystery song on track 30. Titled "We'd Bruise", it's another track from Tim Maloney. It consists of "a single commercial, recut and rearranged for clarification of the 'original'".

Also, the Droplift Project website features some additional bonus tracks which are not available on the album. Right now these bonus tracks include "Collage Collage" by the Bran Flakes, "Copyright (Give It Away)" by the Farmingdale Sound Machine, and "The Art Of Sampling" from DJ Nkrypt - along with a special "Fair Use (Droplift Edit)" track from Negativland, which is a condensed and remixed version of the anti-copyright classic "Dead Dog Records" (the CD included with their excellent book "Fair Use"). More tracks will be appearing on the website soon, including works by other audio collage artists and a collaborative Droplift Remix Project which is currently in progress.

What does the album artwork look like?

The artwork and graphics files associated with the Droplift Project can be downloaded from the Droplift art section of the website located at http://www.droplift.org/art.html. There you can view the complete CD artwork and get everything you need to recreate the packaging for the purposes of making additional copies of the album.

What does it say on the liner notes?

Along with a list of contact information for the artists on the disc, the liner notes for the Droplift Project also contain a special message and some other information.

>From the Droplift Project liner notes:

Chances are, if you bought this disc in a store, it wasn't there because the store owner put it there.

Once we had these CD's printed, we went into record stores in selected locations the world over, leaving copies in the bins for you to find. We used this "droplift" technique in order to protest the current state of copyright law in this country.

Why? Because our art is composed largely of uncleared samples. Each artist on this CD is involved in a relationship with media appropriation, found sound, and the art of collage.

For the last hundred years, artists have recognized the wide possibilities afforded by taking elements of the world around you -- newspaper clippings, photos, magazines, and even manufactured objects -- and recombining them to form works that are exciting, new, and often comment on who we are and what the times we live in are like. The artists on this CD do the same thing with sound.

We cut the TV, radio, tapes, recordings we've made, music we've creatively altered and purloined, samples we've found and hidden again, and even each other, to weave our own sonic tapestries that describe our lives and our times.

Unfortunately, the prejudices of others and the big business of music make what we do rather difficult to get out there. Rather limp and bullheaded interpretations of copyright law and irrational fears cause the music industry -- and its world of lawyers -- to ignore and threaten us.

All of which gets in the way of our work, and your enjoyment.

The artists on this disc want you to hear what we've made. We don't think there's anything illegal about it, so we did what we could to get it into your hands. Open your ears and let us inside for a moment, you'll see.

The Droplift Project is an art-response to the current relation of artists and lawmakers to the techniques of appropriation, collage, and sampling in music. It has been designed to play on your Compact Disc Audio Equipment without modification. Your ears, attention-span, and brain may require slight adjustments for maximum enjoyment of this Quality Product.


What is fair use? How does fair use apply to sampling?

Copyright is not absolute. Fair use is a provision in copyright law which allows the limited re-use of copyrighted material.

>From Sec. 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include -

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Basically, fair use says that the use of a copyrighted work is not necessarily copyright infringement. How fair use applies to the practice of sampling and works of audio collage remains a grey area. A great deal of audio collage work does qualify as fair use based on the fact that it represents "criticism" and "comment" of the sources that it uses. However, there are many possible uses of copyrighted material in collage-style music that we see as being valid - without making direct comment and criticism of its sources. We believe that the use of samples in this context is something that needs to be addressed more specifically in copyright law.

Another issue in applying fair use to collage is the question about whether the work is of a "commercial nature". While this is not an issue with a free album like the Droplift Project, certainly many audio collage artists do sell albums of their work (although very few sell enough albums to make a living from their art). But creative audio collage is clear different than something like using a pop song in a TV ad or selling bootleg copies of an album.

The fair use statutes are intended to allow for free appropriation in certain cases of parody or commentary. Currently these provisions are conservatively interpreted and withheld from many "infringers". We believe a huge improvement would occur if the fair use section of existing law was expanded or liberalized to allow this kind of partial usage of copyrighted material in artistic works, a slight change to specifically allow for this variety of artistic expression

The beauty of the Fair Use Doctrine is that it is the only nod to the possible need for artistic freedom and free speech in the entire copyright law, and it is already capable of overriding the other restrictions. Court cases of appropriation which focus on fair use and its need to be updated could begin to open up this cultural quagmire through legal precedent.

What is wrong with the copyright law?

>From Negativland's Changing Copyright:

In an attempt to suggest a culturally sane solution to the continuing legal confrontations between owners of copyrighted cultural material and others who collage such material into new creations, we advocate a broadening of the copyright concept of Fair Use. We want the Fair Use statutes within copyright law to allow for a much broader variety of free, creative reuses of existing work whenever they are used in the creation of new work. The world wide corporate assumption of private cultural ownership is now fencing off such timely artistic directions by using copyright law to assert that virtually any form of reuse without payment or permission is theft. From their economic point of view, cultural owners now use copyright law as a convenient shield from "direct reference" criticism, and a legal justification for total spin control and informational monopolization in the marketplace.

However, from an artistic point of view, it is ponderously delusional to try to paint all these new forms of fragmentary sampling as economically motivated "theft", "piracy", or "bootlegging". We reserve these terms for the unauthorized taking of whole works and reselling them for one's own profit. Artists who routinely appropriate, on the other hand, are not attempting to profit from the marketability of their subjects at all. They are using elements, fragments, or pieces of someone else's created artifact in the creation of a new one for artistic reasons. These elements may remain identifiable, or they may be transformed to varying degrees as they are incorporated into the new creation, where there may be many other fragments all in a new context, forming a new "whole". This becomes a new "original", neither reminiscent of nor competitive with any of the many "originals" it may draw from. This is also a brief description of collage techniques which have developed throughout this century, and which are universally celebrated as artistically valid, socially aware, and conceptually stimulating to all, it seems, except perhaps those who are "borrowed" from.

No one much cared about the centuries old tradition of appropriation in classical music as long as it could only be heard when it was played live in front of your ears. But now all music exists as a mass produced, saleable object, electronically frozen for all time, and seen by its owners to be in continuous, simultaneous economic competition with all other music. The previously interesting idea that someone's music might freely include some appropriated music of another has now been made into a criminal activity. This example is typical of how copyright laws now actually serve to inhibit or prevent the creative process, itself, from proceeding in certain interesting ways, both traditional and new.

This has become a pressing problem for creativity now because the creative technique of appropriation has jumped from the mediums in which it first appeared (principally in the visual fine arts of painting, printmaking, and sculpture) to popular, electronic mass distributed mediums such as photography, recorded music, and multimedia. The appearance of appropriation techniques in these more recent mass mediums have occasioned a huge increase in owner litigations of such appropriation based works because the commercial entrepreneurs who now own and operate mass culture are apparently intent on obliterating all distinctions between the needs of art and the needs of commerce. These owners of mass produced cultural material claim that similarly mass produced works of appropriation are a new and devastating threat to their total control over the exclusive profits which their properties might produce in the same mass marketplace. They claim that, art or not, an unauthorized appropriation of any kind can not be allowed to directly compete in the appropriated material's avenue of commerce, as if they were equal in content, and equal in intent. The degree to which the unique nature and needs of art practice do not play any part in this thinking is more than slightly insane.

Consider the starkly stupid proposition that collage has now become illegal in music unless the artist can afford to pay for each and every fragment he or she might want to use, as well as gain permission from each and every owner. Consider how this puts a stop to all independent, non-corporate forms of collage in music, and how those corporately funded collage works which can afford the tolls had better be flattering to the owner in their usage. Where does such a routine thwarting of common free expression lead to? Society does not thrive on commerce alone, and an enlightened one would have long ago established the legal primacy of artistic intent and authority to be at least equal to that of private commercial activities when these two social forces come to blows within our free market system. One feeds the mouth, but the other feeds the spirit, and either one without the other can only be seen as a form of societal decline. And if you don't think the overwhelming colonization and monopolization of creative formats by economic interests has had a debilitating effect on the very practice of creativity, you have already succumbed to that homogenized haze of inconsequence which commercial media surrounds us with day in and day out.

Because art is not defined as a business, yet must compete for economic survival in the business marketplace, we think certain legal priorities in the idea of copyright should be turned upside down. Specifically, a revision of the Fair Use statutes should throw the benefit of the doubt to artistic reuse and place the burden of proof on the owner/litigator. When a copyright owner wished to contend an unauthorized reuse of their property, they would have to show essentially that the usage does not result in anything new beyond the original work appropriated. However, if the new work is judged to significantly fragment, transform, rearrange, or recompose the appropriated material, and particularly does not use the entire work appropriated from, then it should be seen as a valid fair use - an original attempt at new art whether or not the result is successful and pleasing to the original artist, the owners of his or her work, or the court.

This would fully protect the owner's undisputed right not to be bootlegged, and it's NOT difficult to determine! Think of any past or present examples of unauthorized bootlegging, and any past or present examples of artistic appropriation, and you will find it is always perfectly obvious which is which. The difference between any kind of fragmentary transformation of existing work, and the unmanipulated presentation of whole works by others, which is required for successful bootlegging, would be as clear to courts and juries as it is to us. But this is precisely the crucial distinction in methodology which present law seems unwilling to acknowledge, thus throwing all kinds of valuable creative techniques and motivations into the same criminal hopper with economically motivated ripoffs. Both our courts and our corporations are now in the untenable position of assuming that once a work becomes a saleable object, that becomes its only significant roll in society, and that roll is the only one the law should be concerned with.

We acknowledge there are some complex difficulties in delineating exactly how fragmentary appropriation and esthetic motivation might be defined and allowed within revised Fair Use statutes. But awkward as that process may seem, we think that effort is possible. We presently see neither wisdom nor integrity in a set of laws that, except for very narrowly interpreted "fair use" allowances, simply ignores the validity, even the very existence of various established and valued art practices based on "direct referencing", (Surrealism for example) which have evolved through art formats of all kinds since the turn of this Century, yet do not necessarily fit within the Fair Use guidelines. Now it is implied that artists should actually strive to fit within the narrowly specified "Fair Use" government guidelines whenever attempting to use appropriated elements in new work. But when you become aware of the tiny sliver of specific artistic activity which Fair Use now allows, it doesn't take an artist to see that there is much more to be done with all the media influences which surround us. These ideas range far, wide, and weird, not always following the strictly defined "rules" of parody or carefully controlled commentary which the tiny tunnel of Fair Use statutes now provide for.

Please consider the ungenerous and uncreative logic we are overlaying our culture with. Artists will always be interested in sampling from existing cultural icons and artifacts precisely because of how they express and symbolize something potently recognizable about the culture from which both they and this new work spring. The owners of such artifacts and icons are seldom happy to see their properties in unauthorized contexts which may be antithetical to the way they are spinning them. Their kneejerk use of copyright restrictions to crush this kind of work now amounts to corporate censorship of unwanted independent work. Unlike the basic thrust of all the rest of U.S. law, copyright law actually assumes that all unauthorized uses are illegal until proven innocent, and any contested "fair use" always requires a legal defense, which remains beyond the financial grasp of most accused "infringers". This financial intimidation results in the vast majority of art appropriators caving in and settling out of court, their work being consigned to oblivion, and the "owners" having it all their way, including their expenses paid under the guise of "damages".

The question we want you to consider is this: Should those who might be borrowed from have an absolute right to prevent any such future reuses of their properties, even when the reuse is obviously part of a new and unique work? Do we want to actually put all forms of free reuse under the heading of "theft" and criminalize a valuable art form such as collage? - A form which may involve controversial social/cultural references and cannot operate true to its vision when permission is required. Present copyright prohibitions appear unable to appreciate the flow of the art forest because they are forever fixated on the money trees. One might say that Soviet Communism finally fell because it insisted on ignoring the human nature of its own citizens. Here in the land of the free, as well as everywhere else, it is basic to human nature to copy for our own creative purposes - in fact, it's how we got to this level of civilization. This ageless aspect of human creativity is nothing but desirable and need not be criminalized when the motive is to create new work.

The law must acknowledge the logical and inalienable right of artists, not publishers and manufacturers, to determine what new art will consist of. The current corporate control over our technologically based culture has an ominous feel to it because these private owners of our common cultural life have succeeded in removing the concept of culture from a pluralistic dispersement of esthetic ideas, born and realized by individual creative impulses, and given it over to fewer and fewer corporate committees of molders and marketers who are driven only by an over riding need to maintain an ever rising bottom line for their shareholders in the culture market. Is the admittedly pivotal role which society places on commerce really so unassailably useful when it begins to inhibit and channel the very direction of an "independent" art form, "allowing" it to evolve this way, but not that way? Is the role of Federal Law to serve the demands of private income, or to promote the public good through free cultural expression? Both?

Then the crux of the debate we hope to raise is how are we going to maintain reasonable forms of fair compensation for artists and their whole parasitic entourage of associated agents without inhibiting, stifling, or criminalizing perfectly healthy and valuable forms of independent music/art practice which arise out of new, enabling technology? We believe the promotion of artistic freedom should, for the first time, find a balanced representation with the purely commercial guidelines which now dominate copyright law.

Finally, this shift in the mental paradigm which now deifies all- encompassing private ownership must be forged and supported in all the little areas which now attend it. For instance, contract clauses between music labels and their artists which assert the label's exclusive right to market the artists' work could conceivably be renegotiated by fair use supporters to include the possibility of a subsequent fair use of the artist's work by anyone else. The clear and crucial distinction between bootlegging and fair uses, and the change in attitude towards the artistic legitimacy of Fair Use, should be reflected in the very legal documents of private enterprise which occasion all these lawsuits in the first place. Contracted artists who support Fair Use could begin demanding such clause adjustments in their contracts now, and in fact, this would be an interesting means for the traditionally "helpless" artist to actually begin affecting this artistically desirable change in our present legal system, as they are apparently the only people involved who are capable of putting art before profit, and no one else involved appears willing to push this convention challenging juggernaut into reality.

For more thoughts on audio collage and copyright law, try "Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative" at http://www.interlog.com/~vacuvox/plunderphonic/xhtml/xplunder.html, Negativland's "Fair Use" essay at http://www.negativland.com/fairuse.html, or Crosley Bendix "Discusses The US Copyright Act" at http://www.negativland.com/crosley.html.


IV Droplift When?

When did the project originate?

Droplift began in mid-1999 on an email discussion list devoted to audio recordings that include found sound, audio collage, media appropriation, and "culture jamming". From that point, the project developed slowly over time as funds were gathered and the participants crafted their submissions to the album. After all of the this was collected and the artwork was complete, 1000 copies of the CD were pressed and distributed to the Droplifters (along with several other sympathetic individuals and organizations).

When was the album released to the public?

The album was released on the weekend of July 28, 2000 when all across the world, our Droplift operatives introduced the disc into the racks of countless record stores. This is also the date that the album was released to the public as a free download from the Droplift website.

When will it all end?

Additional copies of the disc are still being droplifted into stores to this day. In an attempt to keep the project going as long as possible, we encourage others to pick up where we left off and make more copies to droplift at their local stores. We also support the free distribution of the album through the Internet, and we will continue to make it available on our website long into the future.

When has the project been mentioned in the media?

The Droplift Project has made a signifigant impact in the media. Articles about the Droplift and interviews with members of the project have been featured in major newspapers such as the LA Times, Orlando Weekly, and the LA Weekly; along with the subversive Adbusters magazine. The project has been mentioned on numerous websites including inside.com, thejournalnet.com, mi2n.com, and many others. And in addition to some radio play on college and alternative stations, news programs on radio stations such as CJSR and the CBC have covered the project and interviewed some of the participants. A complete list of media appearances can be found on the Droplift Press page at http://www.droplift.org/press.html.


V Droplift Where?

Where are the artists on the Droplift Project located?

There are many different contributors to the Droplift Project, each living in a different area. Although most of the participants are from the United States, the project also includes artists from Canada, the Netherlands, and other countries.

Where can I find a copy of the Droplift Project?

A copy of the Droplift Project might already be waiting in the racks at your local store. However, because we do not yet have droplifters active in every area you may not be able to easily find a copy. As an alternative, we encourage listeners to download the entire album for free from our website.

Also, due to the demand for physical copies of the Droplift CD, we have decided to make CDR copies with full art available to the public on a donation basis. For a minimum donation of $5 to our cause, we will mail you a copy of the Droplift Project CD. Additional copies are available at the same rate of $5 per CD. For more information visit our "Not For Sale!" page, located at http://www.droplift.org/nosale.html.

Or, if you are interested in receiving a free promotional copy of the Droplift Project for radio play or to write up a review, please contact us at cds@droplift.org.

Where can I find the Droplift Project on the Internet?

The official Droplift Project website is located at http://www.droplift.org. The links for free downloads of all of the tracks on the album can be found on the Droplift audio page, http://www.droplift.org/audio.html. The tracks are available in MP3 and RealAudio formats or as full uncompressed WAV and AIFF files.

Or, if you prefer to download the files through FTP, you can come to the Droplift FTP located at edserv.ucf.edu:21 (username=droplift; password=snuggles).

Where can I find other music by the artists on the Droplift Project?

The best place to start looking for more music and information from the artists on the Droplift Project is the Droplift artists page at http://www.droplift.org/artists.html. You also might be interested in the sequel, Droplift II. Another place to go to for additional tracks by many of the Droplift artists is the free online compilation "Snuggle This!", located at http://www.sensoryresearch.com/~craigco/snugglethis.

Where can I find other Droplift merchandise?

Several pieces of Droplift merchandise including T-shirts, mugs, and mouse pads are available for purchase online at http://www.cafepress.com/droplift. All profits will be used to produce and distribute additional copies of the Droplift Project to the culturally needy.

Where can I find other websites related to the Droplift Project?

The Droplift Links page located at http://www.droplift.org/links.html contains an assortment of different links related to the project covering intellectual property, the music industry, culture jamming, activism, and other sound collage artists. Also, be sure to check out Droplift II!


VI Droplift Why?

Why droplift?

We are not doing this just to be a pack of bastards. Droplifting is a stunt, but it is a serious one.

It was born of the necessity to promote and distribute our own work. This work, however, has developed around issues of appropriation, media culture, collage, art, and copyright. The very structures we are addressing in our music are the structures we are attempting to master with these unusual distribution methods.

Droplift calls into question the sorry state of the Music Industry Conglomerates, who determine the kinds of sound art that can be created by threatening legal actions and outdated interpretations of law the only effect of which is to stifle free expression and criticism in mass media forms.

Droplift calls into question the distribution of a limited selection of cultural material by dominant corporate music retail giants. The sole relevant effect here is to similarly stifle new voices, especially dissenting or critical ones.

Droplift calls into question the pathetic adherence to the ancient and practically irrelevant copyright law as a standard to which an artist's work must conform. This is especially damaging to sound art works which would "quote" existing material in a way that is transformative - such as in criticism, comment, or satire - the same way that a filmmaker "steals" a shot from a master, or a writer reprints a poet's verse at the start of chapter.

Yes, it's a fun prank to pull, but it's got some serious issues attached to it. We wouldn't do anything too serious without a bit of fun - it's the kind of people we are. We could attach a lengthy Study Guide or somesuch, full of quotes and laws. We could fill volumes with serious commentary and opinions on the state of these issues. But we've chosen this route instead. You have this Guide, you know the prank, and you can get the CD. It is our sincerest hope that our efforts come to some notice and spur a little discussion about these matters. To do so would be to wrench us all from some concrete assumptions about the ownership of culture and get us all to think about change.

Why do some of the songs on the disc end abruptly?

Unfortunately, an error in the pressing of the Droplift Project disc caused the last few seconds of 3 different songs to be cut off. These tracks include #18, #19, and #28. The corrected and completed versions of these tracks are available for download from the Droplift audio page at http://www.droplift.org/audio.html


VII Droplift How?

How can I contact the Droplift Project?

For general contact with the Droplift Project, send email to contact@droplift.org. If you would like to conduct an interview or write a story about us, you can drop us a line at press@droplift.org. For those who wish to assist us with droplifting efforts in your local area, you can contact us at volunteers@droplift.org.

How can I distribute the Droplift Project in my area?

Anyone with access to a CD burner and a printer can create their own copies of the Droplift Project for distribution. If you are interested in becoming a Droplifter, visit the Droplift Recruitment Office at http://www.droplift.org/recruits.html.

How can I link my site to the Droplift Project?

Go to http://www.droplift.org/logos.html for instructions on adding a link to the Droplift Project onto your website. There is a wide selection of graphics to choose from, along with HTML code that you can simply cut-and-paste into your site.

How can I donate funds to the Droplift Project?

The Droplift Project is a non-profit organization, and we exist solely on the basis of donations and money out of our own pockets.

How can I help the project in other ways?

There are many other ways to help out with the Droplift Project. You could write an article, play the disc on your radio show, make copies for your friends, or anything else to help us get the message out.

Even if you can participate in no other way, simply spreading the word about the Droplift Project has the potential to benefit us all. It points out to the public consciousness the sad and sorry state of the current Music Industry Establishment and its violent resistance to artists who are merely engaging in techniques and ideas that have been with us since the turn of the last century. It may encourage discussion about the outdated copyright laws which were written at a time before any electrical innovation touched the lives of most Americans. And it may encourage others to do similar work, both in terms of the sampling aesthetic and in terms of our methods of distribution.


N© 2000 - This work is in the public domain