“We sing, we dance, we steal things.”

by Hannah Klomp

“We SING, we DANCE we STEAL things”

In this above quote, the singer Jason Mraz uses the issues surrounding copyright and the notions of ‘remixing’ in a way that really emphasises how it has become a part of the ‘norm’ and the way that commercialism is able to continually grow today. This quote is stating that ideas, whether it is from a song, a dance, basically from anywhere, ideas are continually being transformed to create newer and better things because of the increasing influence of technology on its audience today.

Technology has been a significant influence on the rise of this ‘remix’ culture and is increasingly encouraging the audience to participate and be a part of something that could never be done before, allowing access to so many other people’s thoughts and ideas that ‘remix’ is almost inevitable. Audiences are no longer just ‘passive receptors’ of content but instead are continually pushing the boundaries to become ‘pro-sumers’ (combination of the words producer and consumer) demanding more rights and freedom to manipulate content in attempt to create something even more distinctive to themselves and the culture in which they live emphasising the idea that:

“The sharing of culture is constitutive of the culture itself.” (Stalder, F 2008.)

Remix, or ‘mashups’, even though they have become such a popular aspect have raised concern about copyright and the legality of using past content to create something of the future and whether or not a ‘remixer’ has freedom to distribute their remix without breaching multiple laws regarding to copyright. Professor Robert Merges, a lecturer at Berkeley Law University in California, believes that copyright laws should not be changed in relation to remixing and mashups because of the many complications that would incur if there were to be one, and the evaluation of his comments can be seen here. There would also be no way to significantly monitor every type of remix, because most ideas have already been thought of, in theory making everything to being a remix. The benefits of technology and the way that audience have become a collective audience has allowed for ideas to be built upon, thus creating an idea that is more influential in a society. Voltaire states the idea of originality perfectly, and I support the claim that;

“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another.”

Lessig also comments on this phenomonen of the remix culture, and states that any establishment being where the original content first came from, has the direct right to their content and has the power to penalise users who may ‘steal or abuse’ their work. Lessig also evaluates the way that the remix culture may actually be extremely beneficial to both society and the original work, as it creates an insight to the world, that the first artist may not have seen before, therefore enabling a more stronger, maybe even more emotional work to be produced and put forward. It also may be extremely benefical in keeping an audience appealled and interested in the work, and this variation may even “prevent the viewer from wandering to another channel” (Lessig). Also remix can also be beneficial in being that “It touches social life differently. It gives the audience something more. Or better, it asks something more of the audience. It is offered as a draft. It invites a response. In a culture in which it is common, its citizens develop a kind of knowledge that empowers as much as it informs or entertains.” (Remix Culture).

Rather than establishments focusing on the negatives of this remix culture, they should get on board and become more aware of how this phenomenon may actually be beneficial to them. What do you think of this remix culture? Should copyright laws be in place to prevent remixes from happening or is it a positive aspect of today’s society? Let me know what you think.

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