on Rear Window

The Rear Window stop motion film has been doing the rounds for a while, but I only took the time to watch it just now (I’ve been a bit distracted getting my own video out).

For anyone who missed it:

Wow.

I mean, just, … wow. The thought, time and attention to detail that has gone into that work is just stunning. Usually I see something like this and I think ‘beautiful, yes’ and then I retweet it, or share it somehow. But this time I want to also make a comment.

I’m not a lawyer, I haven’t researched this and I’m doing that dreadful rapid-response-internet-culture thing of stating my mind without waiting for details. But it strikes me that Rear Window’s original footage is not in the public domain. Nor is it likely to be Creative Commons licensed. That means this beautiful piece of work, this homage to Hitchcock, this celebration of what new technology and distribution can do for old gems, would be illegal. It means that Jeff Desom, the artist who learned, honed and crafted his skill so attentively that he could create something so much more than the source (while not taking anything from it) would be a criminal.

If that is truly the case, then: That. Is. Outrageous.

This remix practice, standing on the shoulders of giants, is not harming anyone. It takes nothing away. It only recognises beauty from what has come before, nurtures the source, allows it to blossom and then generously hands something back.

If the SOPA / PIPA / CISPA / whatever-the-hell-name-they-come-up-with-next brigade have their way, this kind of work would increasingly struggle to be seen. This totally harmless, Hitchcock-celebrating gem, would just get stamped on by people claiming to “protect” rights holders.

I’m not saying Piracy per se is a good thing, or that anyone should get ripped off. But the internet is about abundance, not scarcity. What are we so desperately scared of? We should be investing in creativity in this environment, enable it to be found amongst dust, nurtured until it blossoms and can generously hand something back. Otherwise we’re just allowing some strangers to lock our cultural sources away in lead boxes and kill them forever.