Before we get too far, it should be noted that this author does not believe all entertainment should be available on a free for all basis. While that sounds good in theory, there's nothing wrong with seeing an artist get their just desserts, normally in the form of monetary reward, for creating something that's enjoyed/consumed by the masses.
That being said, the subject of fair use has been soiled by such entities as the RIAA and the MPAA.
An example of this would be Walt Disney making beautiful art of such stories as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Alice In Wonderland. Disney played absolutely no part in the creation of these stories, but he did adapt them, giving the public classic films that have stood the test of time. With that in mind, let's see what happens if one of us -- members of the general public -- try to make use of characters from the The Lion King.
For an idea of what would happen, see the story of the Air Pirates versus Disney, and try applying what happened then with what you know of the RIAA and its strong-arm legal tactics.
With that in mind, the concept explored in the Everything is a Remix videos shows just how much influence past works have on new ideas, especially in regards to movie-making. As pointed out by SlashFilm, Everything is a Remix is a project being done by Kirby Ferguson, a New York-based filmmaker.
The goal of the project is to show just how much influence -- or outright concept theft -- older works play a part in movie-making, and after watching the video, it's pretty clear that without the concept of fair use, what we see as inspiration could be categorized as outright copying. Too bad these concepts are not part of the thought process when it comes to copyright enforcement from the RIAA and the like.
Over at the site, it's explained that the series will be presented in a four parts, with three of them already available. There's also been a new video posted, and it breaks down The Matrix, pointing out numerous occasions where the Wachowskis were either inspired by another movie, and/or directly copied a concept or a particular fight scene.
Be sure and take a look, because it's an awesome video:
It's pretty clear there aren't that many original thoughts left in regards to visual entertainment, which is another reason the concept of fair use should be upheld, if not defended as staunchly as the rights of the musicians the RIAA protects. If you'd like to see the rest of Kirby's work, be sure and check out the installments of his Everything is a Remix project, all of which are available on his site.
If it doesn't force you to take a look at the current conditions in regards to the entertainment industry's vise-like grip on content, I'm not sure anything will.