RE: [rumori] THE DROPLIFT PROJECT - new copyright infringement compilation
Date: Sun Jul 30 2000 - 19:59:25 PDT

> I'm interested in what people think about the potential efficacy of this
> Droplift Project. My polite concerns are:
> First, I'm not sure how much issues of copyright infringement have to do
> with giving away copies of a CD

        The concept for the Droplift project came about the same time that Negativland
(certainly one of the best known found sound projects) was having trouble finding a CD
pressing plant that would agree to press their new cd - because of copyright issues. The
RIAA was putting major pressure on CD plants and was threatening to hold them personally
responsible for acting as the copyright police and preventing "unauthorized" sampling.

        Things have eased up a bit since that time, and the Negativland disc in question has
already been pressed and released. However, the fact remains that it is very difficult for
artists working with sampled material to achieve any kind of major distribution for their work.
Fair use is still not widely accepted, and many people don't even know it exists. And in many
cases, the current fair use laws aren't clear and don't go far enough to protect this type of
audio collage work. The widespread abuse of copyright by record labels in the name of
increased profits and at the expense of cultural expression amounts to effective censorship of
any work with unauthorized sampling. All this is old news to readers of this list.

        So both as a fun prank, and as an interesting angle to catch the attention of the media,
we decided to make a collection of our copyright infringing masterworks and "take the law
into our own hands" by eliminating the lawyers and the middlemen by releasing the album
directly onto the shelves of stores (without their knowledge).

> to record stores so they can sell it and take all the money.

        The fact that none of the contributors to the Droplift are profiting in any way from the
album is key to our argument. We make it clear that we don't care what happens to the
money. Along with the idea that we want our work to be accepted as legal fair use, we also
want to attack the notion that art is nothing more than a commercial product. The album is
free, and in the public domain. There is no UPC symbol on the package. Just imagine the fun
when the clerk at the music megastore can't find a bar code. We don't know exactly what
will happen - they may give it away, they may invent a price, they may refuse to sell it at all..
Any of these (and other) outcomes throw an interesting dynamic into the machine cogs of the
record industry and might make people think about these issues.

        A traditional argument of the record industry and the public is that sampling should be
outlawed or regulated because it represents uncreative and untalented people stealing
intellectual "property" and then turning around to sell it. An album like this where we don't
receive a dime forces people to reexamine this argument and to appreciate our work as art
instead of mere product.

> Is this supposed to be ironic?

        Of course. And the "Droplift" name highlights what I see as a great irony of the
project. It's a play on "shoplift", which is the exact opposite of what we are doing. And yet,
because of the samples, still we are seen as "thieves".

> Second, who is the intended recipient of the message that the project is
> presumably sending?

        I think a lot confusion here comes from the fact that there are multiple intended
recipients of the message. We intend to catch the attention of the media as an interesting
"weird news item", insult the music industry, confound music retailers and shoppers, promote
discussion of the topic, and have people who are already interested in this kind of stuff hear
our particular projects. Perhaps we are losing a bit of the impact by making the scope so
broad. Still, there are many people involved with this more-or-less democratic project, and
different people seem to have different goals and tactics and perhaps different audiences in
mind that's it is difficult to maintain a single focus. Of course, we find strength in this diversity
as well. :)

> the PR says: "Down among the established pop hits and
> top 40 product, these CDs await those curious few who take them to the
> counter." So, apparently this is directed at people who don't know about
> the project, who just happen upon this CD accidentally, who normally buy
> pop music and hits.

        The issue of where in the store to make the drop is left to the individual droplifter.
The bit in the press release about the "pop hits and top 40 product" - I believe this is more of
a reference to the fact that the whole stores are basically pop hits and top 40 products,
although certainly many droplifters did opt to put their discs in prominent locations in the top
40 sections and filed along with Britney Spears and the like (she does appear briefly on the
disc, after all).

> But how many of these people are going to actually
> buy this? They're the kind of people who only buy what major label
> promotion tells them to buy. Why would they go to the trouble of taking
> this up to the counter and waiting for the salesperson to figure out what
> it is and how much to charge them?

        This is true. We don't expect the disc to fly off the shelves immediately. I anticipate
that most people who hear the album will be getting it from the website, and not a store. Still,
some curious people will take the disc up to the counter. And LOTS of people will take
notice and pick it up to see what it's all about, even if they don't buy it. We can't change
people tastes, but we can provide an alternative for them to choose.

> And if it's dropped into experimental bins, then you're preaching to the converted

        Not necessarily. Although the people looking through experimental bins in the record
store have already been exposed to this type of art, they may not realize the implication of the
legal issues involved. And the project is also yet another effort to establish culture
jamming/found sound/etc to the public, and even within electronic/experimental music circles.
Even fans of groups like Negativland don't always realize that there are many more artists out
there doing related types of work.

> Maybe this is a hoax and the droplifting isnt really being done, which
> would be a wonderful PR double-fake... You'd never get to "Witness the
> confused faces of cashiers and customers alike", but you probably won't
> anyway, unless you hang around the store for a long long time.

        I can testify that although the whole project is a somewhat of a hoax to begin with,
the droplifting of discs IS actually being done as we speak. Still, it wouldn't be a bad idea to
greatly exaggerate the extent of the droplifts when dealing with the media.

> What would
> be great is to *pretend* to be a customer trying to buy one, with some
> hidden microphones and cameras to document the experience. Do this all
> over the country and then make a nice little documentary video about the
> project.

        Absolutely. Many of the actual droplifts have been filmed for future distribution on the
website or a possible documentary. And many of us plan to go back and try to buy or ask
the price of the droplifted discs to observe and record the results. This is the next step in the
> Another alternate project: What would have been much more interesting, in
> my opinion, is if the CD looked like something else that the customers
> would recognize, like a new Jennifer Lopez album.

        Many droplifters also suggested this idea of deceptive packaging, but with no
consensus and for various others reasons the more informative packaging was decided on.

> Or a soundtrack album
> to a nonexistent major motion picture! The cover could mention all these
> big stars in the film, Bruce Willis, Cindy Crawford, Hillary Clinton,
> whoever, and then a list of famous bands who supposedly are on the disc,
> everyone from the Offspring to Britney Spears to Aphex Twin. But inside
> is the fucked-up sound collage by the various obscure artists.
> The wide appeal of the names on the outside would guarantee a lot of
> interest by a large range of customers, the kind of customers who MOST
> need to be exposed to this "strange" music and these "difficult" concepts.

        I love it! Work with this a bit and we might have the next big anti-copyright project..
You could list all the famous bands.. and they actually WOULD be on the disc - cut-up, dis-
assembled and re-constructed.

> Anyway, I don't' mean to be overly critical. The actual music on the CD is
> mostly quite good, and I would recommend the disc to anyone who can find
> it (try to buy it from a participant, rather than a store).

        Much appreciated!

        Keep in mind also that the whole album is available for free download at .. This is the easiest way to get ahold of the disc. And in addition to
the MP3's - if you are equipped with a CD burner and high speed connection, full quality
WAV and AIFF versions are up for download along with the full cd artwork - so you can
burn yourself a copy... and perhaps droplift a few.

   ---> STOP CHILDREN headquarters - <---

Rumori, the Discussion List
to unsubscribe, send mail to
with "unsubscribe rumori" in the message body.
Rumori list archives & other information are at

Home | Detrivores | Rhizome | Archive | Projects | Contact | Help | Text Index

[an error occurred while processing this directive] N© Sharerights extended to all.