Past Event

Civic Cinema: Copyright Criminals

Join us for a screening of Copyright Criminals, a film produced by Benjamin Franzen and Kembrew McLeod. 

Can you own a sound? As hip-hop rose from the streets of New York to become a multibillion-dollar industry, artists such as Public Enemy and De La Soul began reusing parts of previously recorded music for their songs. But when record company lawyers got involved everything changed. Years before people started downloading and remixing music, hip-hop sampling sparked a debate about copyright, creativity and technological change that still rages today.

Following the film, Anton Seals will host a discussion with filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein about the remix generation and copyright law. Does the age of the mash-up threaten the concept of intellectual property? What is the commons? How was Hip Hop changed by the wave of lawsuits? When is sampling theft and when is it fair use?

This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended and can be made online, by email, or by calling 312.422.5580.

Presented by The Public Square, Critical Encounters at Columbia CollegeThe Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, WTTW Channel 11ITVS, and the Future of Music Coalition

About our Panelists  

Brad Lichtenstein has produced for Frontline and Bill Moyers.  He is currently producing a PBS documentary that will follow the community of Janesville, WI for two years to see how it recovers from the loss of its century-old GM plant, and What We Got:  DJ Spooky’s Journey Through the Commons, a documentary/fiction hybrid about the over-privatization of what belongs to all of us:  our commons. With Lumiere Productions he produced With God on Our Side: The History of the Religious Right; André’s Lives, a portrait of the “Jewish Schindler;” The Discovery Channel’s Safe, about domestic violence; PBS’s Caught in the Crossfire, about 3 Arab New Yorkers after 9/11; the PBS series Local News, and the BBC/Court TV co-production of Ghosts of Attica, for which he was awarded a Dupont.  Most recent was Almost Home, a PBS Independent Lens documentary about people who live and work in a elder-care community.  To find out more visit him online at

Anton Seals is the District Programs Coordinator in the office of Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) and is a graduate of the film department at Columbia College. He was a recent candidate for State Representative of the 32nd Representative district on the city’s southside and organizes constituents to address issues impacting access to arts education, affordable housing, sustainable energy, food access, and technology. He is dedicated to service and active engagement through the use of the media arts and community development. He has been a pioneer in teaching media literacy to Chicago Public School students through his media/literacy/video/cinema training program Creative Young Minds. 

About our Partners

ITVS COMMUNITY CINEMA is the monthly screening series featuring upcoming selections from the Independent Lens season. Presented in partnership with local public television stations and leading community organizations, ITVS Community Cinema holds preview screenings in select markets across the country making a real contribution on a range of current social issues by connecting communities with organizations, information, and the opportunity to get involved. ITVS is a leading funder and presenter of award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web, and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 PM on PBS. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Critical Encounters is a college-wide initiative intended to synchronize conversations between the school and the community in an ongoing dialogue around a central, socially and culturally relevant issue, each academic year. The purpose of Critical Encounters is to further enhance Columbia College’s commitment to civic engagement by inviting students, faculty and staff to explore and reflect upon the chosen issue so that we better understand the impact of that issue in relation to our role as artists, communicators, and media makers, and as those who shape public perception and author the culture of our times.  During the 2009-10 academic year, explorations will focus on Fact & Faith.

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs is dedicated to promoting an ongoing celebration of the arts, serving individuals and institutions who create and sustain them, and marketing the city’s abundant cultural resources to a worldwide audience.  

Future of Music Coalition is a national nonprofit organization that works to ensure a diverse musical culture where artists flourish are compensated fairly for their work, and where fans can find the music they want.


For more information, contact 312.422.5580.