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The following is an article from the The Journal Net:
(Original article http://www.thejournalnet.com/Main.asp?UID=101063&SectionID;=41&SubSectionID;=&ArticleID;=15472171)



Protest prank puts spotlight on law, creativity

By SCOTT HALL
Daily Journal staff writer
shall@thejournalnet.com

Aug. 24, 2000

Subversive acts don't get much subtler than this: Sneaking CDs into music stores and stashing them in the sales bins.

Nonetheless, that is the plan of attack for the Droplift Project, a blend of artistic statement and guerrilla social protest that touches on issues of copyright, intellectual property and creative license in the digital age.

The nationwide effort centers on an independently produced CD, The Droplift Project, which features 29 tracks by recording artists from across North America. These are little-known tinkerers who specialize in found sound and audio collage, using digital samplers and other technology to appropriate material from various sources - pop music, TV commercials, video games, etc. - and reassemble it in new forms, often with a satirical twist.

For example, a track called ``Blame the Media'' by Project Data Control incorporates snippets of dialog from news broadcasts about armed conflicts in Central America. Then clips from ``Scooby Doo,'' ``Leave It to Beaver'' and ``Ghostbusters'' are added to the mix, and the whole conglomeration is set to a hip-hop beat.

Although there is some legal and social precedent for artists to do such things in other media, this sort of recording rankles the lawyers at record labels and big media corporations. Major retail chains, rather than take a stand as bold defenders of the First Amendment, are hesitant to sell such products and risk a legal battle.

As a result, a network of wiseacres - most of whom have met only via the Internet - conceived the Droplift Project, which generates no revenue.

Beginning on July 28, participants quietly took copies of the CD to chain record stores in their area and left them in the bins; it's the opposite of shoplifting. Presumably the discs were picked up by curious shoppers and taken to confused sales clerks who summoned their managers to discuss the issue. Because the disc was not part of the store's inventory, the shopper typically was allowed to take it home free of charge.

Longtime southsider Peter Wallace, a graduate student at IUPUI, was among the local participants. He dropped the Droplift CD at Borders and Best Buy in Greenwood, Best Buy and Wherehouse Music in Castleton and Karma Records on Indy's east side. He doesn't know what happened to the CDs after that.

``It is basically a prank,'' he said.

The issues at stake, however, are important, he said. Corporate interests and profit motives are threatening free speech and creativity.

``Once a work of art exists, there are parts of it that can be appropriated,'' he said. ``It has a long, respectable history. ... Classical composers often quoted passages from their predecessors.''

Another participant was Tom Visnius, also a grad student, but at Indiana University. He also volunteers for a couple on-air slots on WFHB, Bloomington's marvelous community radio station.

In addition to playing some of the Droplift cuts on his radio show, Visnius dropped the CDs at three chain music stores.

He is concerned that the controversy over Napster, which is essentially a financial dispute between business entities, is dominating the debate over copyright law. To him, the question of whether artists can appropriate small elements from other media has far deeper consequences.

``The idea of found sound is just as valid as found objects in visual media,'' he said. ``They're sampling and recontextualizing it.''

Wallace put it this way: ``You eventually get to the point where everything is copyrighted, and then you have the death of art.''

Find more information and downloadable cuts from the Droplift Project at www.droplift.com.

Related Links:
Droplift Project