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Confessions of an Intellectual (Property): Danger Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Sonny Bono, and My Long and Winding Path as a Copyright Activist-Academic 1

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Abstract:

Using as its departure point the controversy surrounding the release and dissemination of Danger Mouse's Grey Album , this article discusses the recent brand of activism that has emerged as a reaction to the expanding influence of intellectual property law. The limited edition Grey Album , in which Danger Mouse mixed the instrumentation from the Beatles' White Album with vocals from rapper Jay-Z's Black Album , came to the attention of EMI/Capitol, the owner of the Beatles' sound recordings, in early 2004. Danger Mouse received a cease and desist letter from this copyright holder immediately after it was released, but it wasn't until the company began sending cease and desist letters to fans who were trading and distributing the album on the Internet that EMI/Capitol was positioned at the receiving end of a large, organized online protest. The Grey Album itself is also a useful object of study because it highlights the ways in which copyright law has not caught up with the century-old cultural practice that is collage. Placing this album in a historical context--from musique concrète to post-millennial mashups--helps to highlight the ways notions of the authorship and ownership have changed over the years, with regard to intellectual property.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0300776042000300981

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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