Nothing is Original. Says Who?


In a piece on directing in Movie Maker from 2004, the film director Jim Jarmusch states that ‘Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere…’ Well, Jim, I stole your quote above not from your Movie Maker article but from something someone else made and posted on, where stealing and reposting is encouraged.  If you are unfamiliar with

FFFFOUND! is a web service that not only allows the users to post and share their favorite images found on the web, but also dynamically recommends each user’s tastes and interests for an inspirational image-bookmarking experience!! (From the website)


Yet about your idea of thievery, the once ‘no holds barred’ begs to differ and I’d like to know since when?!

I uploaded a video to youtube of a silly little zombie film called ‘DEATH… TO THE DEAD!’ that some friends and I made a few months back. I had the decency and the courage to cite the musical sources that I used throughout the video: ‘Reunited’ by Bob James, ‘Tereznina’ by Cesaria Evora, and ‘The Mob Rules’ by Black Sabbath. Who would think that in under two hours from its original posting time that would send me a rejection letter stating that: “A copyright owner has claimed content in one of your videos’ in regard to the Black Sabbath track? Damn! Is somebody from Warner Bros. sitting on the recently added videos link and scrupulously deleting our hard work from because I certainly didn’t tag the video with any musical references. 

We at Matterful came across a similar dilemma in the last 24 hours in relation to our most recent ‘Top 5’ post about songs of heartbreak. The youtube video uploaded last night to illustrate my love of The Sundays’ song ‘You’re Not the Only One I Know’ was a fan video and has since been ‘removed due to terms of use violation.’ I did a little research thinking that The Sundays might have been a Warner Bros. band too and that maybe, in attempts to salvage some money from the shrinking music business, that WB now had rabid dogs standing guard at to protect their creative licensing. But The Sundays were on Geffen, I discovered. So where is the rhyme or reason here? How can we post a fan video of Spiritualized (on Arista) but not one of The Sundays? What are the rules of engagement at youtube anyway? 

Maybe it’s just because I have personally been burned twice by rights and clearance issues now in using, but ‘The Mob Rules’ song spoke directly to my soul, Mr. Jarmusch, and I’ve brazenly celebrated it in the public eye only to be scorned by a rather fickle friend. Am I on a bad luck stealing spree or has this ever happened to any of you? 

Posted by: Autumn.


3 responses to “Nothing is Original. Says Who?

  1. this is crap. i mean, how long was that sundays fan video up there before it got busted — right after we posted it? and black sabbath can stand getting introduced to a new generation of listeners. now…when can i see the zombie flick?

  2. your post is super interesting, autumn. i was listening to fresh air the other day and our wonderful terry gross was wondering if we have become a generation (well really those younger than us) that wants everything for free. we can download music, films, tv shows for free now and do not understand the price and costs of creativity. her guest lawrence lessing disagreed with her. he has written a book called ‘remix’ about the new copyright questions facing the 21st-century.

  3. sharksandsailors

    this has been interesting to me for quite a while, this topic of ‘rights.’ in this digital age where anyone can be a photographer and/or director and post to youtube or flckr, we have become inundated with media and it has affected our understanding of superior artistic content. and superior content ain’t usually cheap. another thing that ain’t cheap is music and footage clearance costs. they are prohibitive and destructive to budgets, especially the typically no- to low-budget documentary genre, hence the reason that jarmusch encourages us to ‘steal from anywhere.’

    thanks for the lessig suggestion–creative commons is a BLESSING to filmmakers everywhere, yet it is wildly narrow in scope and availability.

    and i’ve always thought that maybe i could be terri gross’ replacement! dream job.

    more posts on this topic to come, for sure!

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