David Wessel: “I get between three and five take down notices daily”
This is a translation in the 50th edition of a series hosted at rechtaufremix.org, entitled “Remixers”. The series is about people and their experiences and attitudes to remixing and the remix culture. The 50th edition went back to talk to the very first interviewee: David Wessel aka Mashup-Germany.
David Wessel was born in Cologne, but has a US passport and lives in Frankfurt. For several years, under the name Mashup Germany, he has very successfully produced audio mashups and publishes these for free on the Internet. He has supported the initiative for a right to remix from its very start in May 2013. He gave the first interview in this series, in which he spoke of the “greatest generation gap since the ’68 movement”. The legally precarious nature of his work became clear again recently, when the online audio platform SoundCloud locked his account recently, due to allegations of multiple copyright infringements.
David, you are currently in a battle with SoundCloud – what happened?
My SoundCloud account “MashupGermany” has been blocked after it was the subject of a third so-called “strike” due to allegations of copyright infringement. In such circumstances, an account is normally deleted after seven days. My account is still online, but I can no longer use it actively and I receive daily between three and five further “strikes”. In previous years, I was left peace.
… And what’s the problem?
As you can read in the press, SoundCloud is currently under considerable pressure from the major labels exposed, and the tightening and more rigid implementation of its take-down policy may be the result. But perhaps the content recognition algorithm was also improved, or maybe the conversion of my accounts on the hypeddit-system (requiring the user has to post a comment on a track before he or she can download it), could have wakened sleeping dogs. But all of this is just speculation.
Have you tried to contact with the labels? What was their reaction?
I have spoken with the Copyright Division of Sony. They reacted with a great degree of understanding, but unfortunately they have their hands tied. The takedown notices came from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which represents the Sony in enforcing their copyright and ancillary rights worldwide.
One of the “strikes” was due to “Wadde Funk Da”, a production that I had produced for Brainpool and for my visit to TV Total. Unfortunately, the rights acquired were only in the context of that activity and not for the streaming on SoundCloud. Another “strike” was my “REBOOT: SUMMER” DJ Mix, which is about 90 minutes. Unfortunately neigher SoundCloud nor Sony were able to specify what part of the recording was the subject of the notice. This means that I have no possibility of being able to defend myself against the notices against this nor against the notice regarding”Uppers & DOWNERS” Mashup Mix, which represents the third “strike” of the Universal Music Group.
If your account should be closed, do you already have plans and ideas for an alternative?
I am pursuing different options for presenting my mashups in the future. However, this also includes a variant that does not use any downloads. I would find this very unfortunate, but the current situation leaves few options.
You have now more than 250 000 Facebook fans, which puts you at the level of a pop star. However, your mashups are rarely played on the radio – do you get any requests from radio stations?
My mashups run regularly in almost all German channels. On 1Live, I’ve been taking part in the programme, for about a year for example, and contributed new mixes and mashups for Rock am Ring or 1Live crown. Mashups are though extremely rare in the daily playlists of radio stations, however, which is primarily due to the unclear legal situation.
That is why we have launched the online Mashup Radio channel at Iloveradio.de about two years ago. I put the music together and the best mashups run from around the world 24/7. About a year ago we also started the German Mashup charts, in particular to encourage newcomers to the scene.
Like many other mashup artists, you’ve long called for a “right to remix”. However, there are hardly mainstream artists who address this point, or want to. Why is that?
Because they aren’t suffering enough from the current situation and out of fear of repression. Anyone who rises to speak makes himself or herself visible and becomes a bigger target. A lot of artists, particularly better known artists fear this. Also, many of these, sooner or later, fall back into the segment that focus on monetising their own productions.
What happens next for you?
I was just able to recover in Sweden for a week after the last few weeks of festivals. I sat a lot on the plane and was often pelted with paint or water. There are still some festivals this year and then I would like, before the autumn starts the next club tour, to concentrate on production. In the coming months, “Deep Exception – Vol.3”, a Deep House Mashup set, and the mashup to “1Live Krone 2015” are on the agenda. It will be exciting.
Right to remix Interview with David Wessel: “I get between three and five take down notices daily” (only in German, 24.07.2015)