Everything is a Remix

Everything is a Remix

2010, Technology  -   73 Comments
Ratings: 8.63/10 from 65 users.

Everything is a Remix is produced by Kirby Ferguson, a New York-based filmmaker.

Ferguson examines modern attitudes toward intellectual property and how these attitudes rather counterintuitively stifle creativity rather than fostering it.

He illustrates the interconnectedness of our creations and how current laws and norms miss this essential truth.

"The hard truth is that most creations are worthless immediately. Most books, films, albums, computer applications, or whatever else are met with not just indifference but disuse.

They basically aren’t read, aren’t viewed, aren’t used. Of the lucky ones that find a modest audience, almost all of those fall into obscurity within a few decades.

Only a slim minority of works have commercial value after that and current copyright legislation is clearly written for this tiny group. Copyleft activists sometimes refer to this segment as the 'lottery winners'."

Directed by: Kirby Ferguson

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73 Comments / User Reviews

Leave a Reply to Brandon Costa Cancel reply

  1. john ledbury

    As the Roman poet said Nihil ex nihilo fit - nothing shall come of nothing. So obviously everything is a remix, if there were something completely original no one would recognise it!

  2. jeremy

    If someones software is the same as yours and isnt challenged conceptually, I don't think it should be allowed but if there is a significant difference to it, I think it is fine.

  3. DustUp

    There are in fact original ideas. There are also improvements to ideas. The US Patent and Trademark Office recognizes both.

    How to distinguish plagiarism from a modified concept is much more difficult regarding Copyright.

    Young people typically like free stuff because they don't have a ready or sufficient source of income to pay for the work or improvements to work by others, that they desire. Other age groups short on funds may be similar. Some of those with plenty of money to buy the work of others that they desire, may just be cheap and decide why pay if can get it for free.

    Human Nature is to ECONOMIZE and not pay for things if you don't have to. While some humans recognize that those who develop things need to eat.

    Follow the money or greed of those wanting the work of others for free. They are the new slave masters. This new breed of thieves don't even offer food and shelter to those they desire work without pay from.

    They tried this concept in Russian farming. The masses or the elite benefiting from the work of the farmers, without commensurate pay. The store shelves went bare. When you eliminate the incentive to produce anything, there will be much less produced. Notions to the contrary are self serving greedy thieving gibberish.

  4. Martin Palmgren

    However, intellectual property as well as the monetary system are human inventions or illusions if you like. You don't see any other creature using or respecting it.
    As all other biological creature we have our birth rights to fulfil our basic needs with whatever nature has to offer. Money or ownership has nothing to do with it because it is just a system made up.
    We are biological, not economical. Just seems like a lot of people have forgotten about that.
    When it comes to our basic needs though, we need to stop confusing them with desires! Food, water, oxygen and shelter is all you need to live a happy life. Everything else is desires created by the market!

    There is no way back once you've seen the truth!

  5. Dorcu Mihai

    We are the flawed copies of L.U.C.A. .The flaws appeared as a response to different types of environment. For me, as an architect, designer, the exchange of information is the only way to evolve professionally. The evolution can be good or bad . To avoid the bad direction, I need to have that x factor, that makes me good ( i hope that I am) in what I do. Sometimes trying to discover this X factor means a lot of work, that has to lead to financial compensation. I will share my way of thinking, my work up to the point where I will work for free just to see someone enjoying the fruits of my labor, but i will not sacrifice the well-being of my family.
    I'm flawed, I know.

  6. Bireddy

    Even though i love your hard work & research behind these videos,you've ruined my opinion about Led Zeppelin.I dont care if they copied songs, atleast i love them for their selectivity

  7. Adam Yost

    Have you heard of the book "Steal Like An Artist"?

  8. Hesusa

    Brilliant documentary. A must see!

  9. B.b. Totten

    Well put doc. Knowledge is inevitably disseminated through copying each other to some degree. Do I owe my mom a royalty payment every time I drive a car because she showed me how? As a musician, imitation is the highest form of flattery. And every bit of music I have ever heard was a harkening back to something. The earliest documented musical pieces were just prayers put to a melody, i.e. harkening back to divinity, or purity of spirit before sin, etc, etc, yada yada yada. The three elements or creation Kirby outlined are, for me, the only conceivable ways to create. It's how I learned to play drums, guitar, sing, and write. They are how I learned to chew with my mouth closed, sit up straight, speak clearly. Copy (my parents), Transform (their example into action), Combine (those experiences in my own mind to create my identity). It's what we do and we shouldn't have to pay for human nature.

  10. John

    This film promotes superficial, selfish, unethical, juvenile thinking.
    Apparently it was made by a superficial, selfish, unethical, juvenile nitwit.
    "I should be able to copy anything I want and try to make money off other peoples talent. Because I never bothered to get a good education, or learn a trade, or develop any useful or meaningful skills whatsoever, and never made any effort whatsoever to develop my own thinking, insight and intellectual skills and abilities, I should be able to mooch off the sweat, work, and intelligence of other people. And what's this word 'ethics' people keep speaking about -- what the hell does that mean anyway."

    1. aj_power

      and where do you think that "good education" and trade skills come from ? we only know to teach these skills from the teachings of others and so on and so forth.

    2. Janeen Clark

      the film is not opinion it is evidence that your misunderstanding as a point of view. this film is what everyone does no person ever created anything original

  11. Chris Clyne

    No new thing under the sun

  12. Guest

    Came across a fact document today, i thought i'd share it.

    Abraham Lincoln was elected to congress in 1846
    John F Kennedy was elected to congress in 1946
    Lincoln was elected president in 1860
    Kennedy was elected president in 1960
    Both presidents were preoccupied by civil rights
    Both presidents were killed a friday
    Both presidents were shot in the head
    Both presidents were killed by a southerner
    Both presidents were succeeded by a southerner named Johnson
    Andrew Johnson who succeeded Lincoln was born in 1808
    Lyndon Johnson who succeeded Kennedy was born in 1908
    John Wilkes Booth who assassinated Lincoln was born in 1839
    Lee Harvey Oswald who assassinated Kennedy was born in 1939
    Both men were known by their three names composed of 15 letters
    Lincoln was killed in a theatre named Ford
    Kennedy was killed in a Lincoln car made by Ford
    Lincoln was assassinated in a theatre and his killer ran into a warehouse
    Kennedy was assassinated from a warehouse and ran into a theatre
    Booth and Oswald were killed before the court hearing
    A week before Lincoln was killed he was in Monroe, Maryland
    A week before Kennedy was killed he was with Marilyn Monroe
    Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy
    Kennedy's secretary was named Lincoln

    translated and not verified for accuracy.
    Everything is a remix or a big coincidence

    1. Achems_Razor

      Ha,Ha, good stuff Az, maybe you should get a raise?

  13. Guest

    Even the word God has been in the remix for ever.

  14. noconman

    The greatest disappointment of growing old to me, has been the lack of anything really new. It's all been said and done a million times, and stolen or borrowed just as many. The cyclical patterns of life seems to have left out the one where we are all fair, honest, loving and concerned about anything but fame, fortune, power and the illusion that we alone are special and and above others. I guess, nothing will ever change. Same old song...same old dance. I wish I were young again and could feel the excitement of seeing or hearing something new.

  15. KsDevil

    Great. I can contine bring creative without fear of being sued because, they probably stole the ideas from someone else, too.

  16. Rocky Racoon

    Everything is social and inter-related. Even an indivudual must do so within and through society. Now they are copyrighting nature simply for discovering it is there. Capitalism is a fraud.

  17. Joe

    Thank you now I can point to this why I don't go to the movies. She always gets pissed when I walk out after and tell her which movies this scene was taken from. So at the end of the day..........life is bullshit Great ain't it :)

    1. Brandon Costa

      Kind of blows the mood eh..lol
      I don't go to movies because everyone talks in the theater nowadays.

      Im amazed how much Star Wars copied.

  18. Tina Yuzilaitis

    so true about movies these days...howls, no originality

  19. BlackDog Aura

    remex is a latin word. it means rower, as in a boat.

  20. Brandon Costa

    Bravo, great doc!

    For the record all comments on TDF are remixes.

  21. Marc Marselje

    I do not totally agree with the topic, just saw the first one. I have played in a band and without knowing it, you start writing riff's to later find out there in some songs you listen to yourself.

    The (creative) mind works like this, you can never make something totally new you always use parts and bits you have picked up along the way and make something "new" from all of this. So a familiar bass line of a song is not a remixed thing, it’s more like an "inspiration"

    A crap, later on the documentry it explains this :P

  22. iPhone 5

    ..doc about copying and sound on third part of the film was disabled because of copyrights :)

  23. Nick Ajose

    Fantastic documentary, watch and learn...

  24. Guest

    Copies are often done of French Films, ex: La femme Nikita and many others. Not long after the movie is made, the US remake it in English (of course) because people of the US* do not watch subtitled movie and there is no budget for dubbing such foreign films. ON the other hand the whole world gets to hear Angelina Jolie or Shawn Connery speak french with a borrowed voice.
    *it is sometimes tricky not to use the popular term Americans, i consider all inhabitants of the Americas the right to be named Americans.

    1. James Matson

      The perfect recent example of this is "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo", which is much better in the original Swiss version.

    2. Mathias Syrén


  25. Noah York

    thank you for spotting the obvious.

    1. CapnCanard

      Noah York, easy son... no need to cast aspersions. ;)

  26. wald0

    Great doc. that made some very valid points about a subject often misunderstood. Intellectual property rights have always seemed odd to me as a science major and now a chemist working on a geology degree. (Yes I started another degree, I can't stop.. learning is addictive) In science the free and open sharing of information is crucial, we want people to build on our discoveries and ideas, to benefit from them in anyway they can, whether it be financial or physical. Once profit motivation enters the picture everything it touches is ruined. This is true of art, science, politics, sports, etc.

    I have never seen profit motivation improve anything in fact. It is claimed to do so in capitalism, but it doesn't. The argument is that people will buy the best quality product at the best possible price, and that this financial version of natural selection will weed out the sub-par products and crooked vendors. This would seem logical, but people are not logical. They do not always buy the best quality product at the best possible price, even when it is available to them. Instead they are motivated by all kinds of complicated psychological processes, easily manipulated by advertisments, taken by all kinds of marketing techniques- and the end result is that profit motivation kills quality, fosters an environment of deception and manipulation, and rewards people for turning a blind eye to their brothers need- while it destroys the environment.

    While I do not pretend to completely buy resourced based economics, or to understand how we would get there from here- it sure is starting to look good. Imagine a world were when we created something we would have no reason to want to own it, or to want to own anything for that matter. You say I am a dreamer, well I am not the only one. I hope someday you will join us...

    I hope I don't get sued for using that line- who owns the rights to Lennon's solo work now days?

    1. CapnCanard

      wald) excellent comment... I would argue that much of our expectations are colored by a false set of objective standards. I think the problem is that we are not objective. I would go so far as to suggest that very little of the world is objective. With regard to the capitalist paradigm, it seems most purchases are subjective and psychologically and tied to an emotive response. I believe that the capitalist ideology is decaying, crumbling as chunks slough off and drop into an abyss. The objective rationale seems more like a fantasy that supports the current distribution of power and wealth.

      BTW, like you I am at a loss as to how it goes forward... there are many interpretations. I am still waiting for that one great idea. Oh well, gotta keep thinking.

      Does Yoko own those 20 words? Perhaps if they were rearranged: Say a dreamer I am you, Well, not only the one I am. Someday I hope join us you will.

    2. Janeen Clark

      society 2.0 open source zero money zero property one humanity one world one set of laws(mother nature)

  27. Vinicius Santos Rodrigues

    good doc.

  28. Coleman R

    None of what this guy says has any merit. Leave this dumbass docu-whine alone.

    1. Malchik

      Make a valid point if you wish to turn away views. So far your heavy metal comment has been wrong. The genre's name may be rooted in that song, but Burroughs coined that term.

  29. Coleman R

    William Burroughs didn't coin the term "heavy metal". The song "Born to be Wild" coined the term. I turned it off immediately after this HUGE mistake.

    1. Guest

      The expression first appears in print in William Burroughs' 1962 novel The Soft Machine. His character Uranian Willy is described as "the Heavy Metal Kid". Burroughs later re-used the term in his 1964 novel Nova Express:

      "With their diseases and orgasm drugs and their sexless parasite life forms - Heavy Metal People of Uranus wrapped in cool blue mist of vaporized bank notes - And the Insect People of Minraud with metal music."
      1968 song Born to be Wild:

      "I like smoke and lightning
      Heavy metal thunder
      Racin' with the wind
      And the feelin' that I'm under"


    2. John Christopher McDonald

      In continuation:

      The word "heavy" (meaning serious or profound) had entered beatnik/counterculture slang some time before Steppenwolf, and references to "heavy music" typically slower, more amplified variations of standard pop fare were already common; indeed, Iron Butterfly first started playing Los Angeles in 1967, their name explained on an album cover, "Iron- symbolic of something heavy as in sound, Butterfly- light, appealing and versatile...an object that can be used freely in the imagination" Iron Butterfly's 1968 debut album was entitled Heavy. The fact that Led Zeppelin (whose moniker came partly in reference to Keith Moon's jest that they would "go down like a lead balloon") incorporated a heavy metal into its name may have sealed the usage of the term.

      A late, and disputed, claim about the source of the term was made by "Chas" Chandler, former manager of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In a 1995 interview on the PBS program Rock and Roll, he asserted that heavy metal "was a term originated in a New York Times article reviewing a Jimi Hendrix performance," in which the author likened the event to "listening to heavy metal falling from the sky." A source for Chandler's claim has never been found.

  30. Jack_Burton

    Very good.... There is no such thing as "intellectual property". Unless you keep it to your self.

    1. CapnCanard

      Jack_Burton, nice concise comment. Intellectual property is like the air we breathe. Claiming ownership... well, that is a problem of economics and in my opinion that illusion of ownership is what starts wars.

  31. Keeper Coach

    IS this a documentary or an advertisement for some dudes website and to scam donations? brutal.

  32. fonbindelhofas

    Awesome doc!

  33. dewflirt

    Sweet dreams all x

  34. Simple Simon says

    cant stand the begging bit at the end of each part, so wont watch any more.

    1. Guest

      please please please....lol
      How about that for begging?
      Really it's good and he is coming with more.
      Look at it this way, the guy is offering this for free, you either beg before you make a film or you beg after since you couldn't keep the words in any longer.
      At least it's better than the Oscars (i saw your comment)

    2. Janeen Clark

      very intelligent mind you have.

  35. dewflirt

    This was great. My craft is the sum total of my influences, suits me fine. Hopefully that means I will never run out of ideas.
    Liked the music part, reminded me of the Gypsy Rover song and all its other names, Blackjack Davey etc. A strange idea to own music or art, they are made to be shared.

  36. bbga

    VERY WELL DONE and extremely informative. I teach a civics course. I'm going to find a way of incorporating this into a lesson plan.

  37. beedahosen

    well done Kirby........I really enjoyed this doc
    I heard once that there is only one original song in history, and every song since has copied and added there own touch

    1. Malchik

      Like all art forms, there is only one music theory. All music is an exploitation of it.

  38. avd420

    The idea of intellectual property doesn't seem bad to ANYONE who has created a piece of art.

    1. dewflirt

      But the original will always be the original.

    2. CapnCanard

      dewflirt, I used to believe that as well... but sometimes the copy is an improvement. I think of "Murder in the Red Barn" by Tom Waits. Typical Waits song... dark, with some pieces of bone and grist ... but John Hammond did a copy on the album "Wicked Grin", and I find it is very good. Before I heard it I wouldn't have thought anyone could do a Waits song better than Waits.

    3. Imightberiding

      @CapnCanard & dewflirt
      Kinda off topic but related to your comment with regards to covering an original. Pretty much I would say, most authors of the original do it the best. It is their sound, quirks included that we all love best. I will add to this that I also have a favorite cover of an original. An old favorite musical artist of mine is Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators. This may be bordering on sacrilige for the purists out there but I strongly feel that John Wesley Harding & the Good Liers did a far better cover of Roky's original "If You Have Ghosts". Check it out if you don't believe me or feel the same. Google is your friend. You'll also find it on You Tube if interested. For all the doubters, think: Sinead O'connor (spelling?) & her cover of the Prince timeless classic "Nothing Compares To You". Even better, think: Jimmy Hendrix's cover of the Star Spangled Banner. Yessssss!
      Cheers Mate!

    4. dewflirt

      Ah, I didn't mean the original was always the best, but it will always be referenced. I like the evolution of it. Was reading an old seafaring song last night, Lord Randle its called. Obviously the inspiration for one of Bob Dylans songs, where have you been my darling young son.

    5. CapnCanard

      Agreed. Most covers mostly suck donkey... perhaps because of those strange idiosyncratic qualities of the original. Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators! wow! I haven't heard them referenced in long time. For my part, I will add that a John McCauley(of Deer Tick/Middle Brother) from Rhode Island(?) did a solo cover of Paul Westerberg's Portland. I like it better than the Mats version. But sometimes the quality of the song is very dependent on a "sketchy" voice and McCauley has a good broken quality to his singing. That can make all the difference. I like Erickson ... kind of similar to a Cap Beefheart, hallucinogens...

    6. Imightberiding

      Please see my response to CapnCanard with regards to his response to your comment about "the original will always be the original".

    7. Janeen Clark

      never is one, or each new one is the original depending how you look at it

    8. Malchik

      Let me guess, you didn't watch the series past episode one. No one's suggesting that.


  39. PaulGloor

    True to his assessment on building creativity, his installments in this series get better as he goes. Truly, everything we see today is a mishmash of pillar concepts and technologies from the few who have a serious 'eureka' moment. The future was invented decades, even centuries ago.

    1. CapnCanard

      PaulGloor, good comment, I've tried paying attention to a whole chain of influences going way back but gave up that game 20 years ago. All things in the creative/intellectual world influence all other things to the point that the doc is spot on. It is unavoidable. Some get financial profit but most are destitute.

  40. Sieben Stern

    AAAH and mac's still have one buttons on their mice! XD I have to use them at my school and they're annoying!

    1. dewflirt

      They're hard to use, but then I tried and failed to use a mobile phone with real buttons today. I like touch screens now, much easier.

  41. Guest

    email note sent to Kirby:

    3 things

    Hip Hip Hip Hourra!

    You belong on TED TALKS

    I am one of the commenters on TDF, topdocumentaryfilms dot com,do come and visit, would love to have your comment. Your doc is the new addition this morning, wait at least a day so people get to watch it.

    Oh...4th thing

    thank you!


  42. lakhotason

    And the main entity pushing the copyright agenda. The Disney Corp. All this for a friggin cartoon mouse.

    1. PaulGloor

      "And the main entity pushing the copyright agenda. The Disney Corp. All this for a friggin cartoon mouse."

      All this for a friggin buck.

    2. lakhotason

      Gives new meaning to the phrase "Mickey Mouse bull sh*t".

  43. Mercenarry ForHire

    Don't tell people theres no new ideas anymore <.< or they wont buy them and the economy will collapse.
    Thats the down side of faster information... nothing is ever unsaid or unseen.

    1. John Krisfalusci

      What the hell are you talking about? information is still left unsaid or unseen. There are pockets of unknown ideas because some people prefer not to share with the rest of us. When "faster information" is applied when knowledge is shared, thats how youtube, twitter, facebook, etc etc works. How the hell did you get this far? I swear... I think ignorance is the real down side here. Good luck with your dumbass life.

    2. CapnCanard

      Your ideas work... but only in a world that is exclusively and completely objective where there is only solid objects that have no subjective experience.