Topic 2.1: Remix/Mashup/Copyright

In order to get started thinking through this area, when reading, please consider:

  1. Lessig argues that video, audio and other forms of media should be remixable in the same way that textual sources can be cut-up, such as citations in an essay. Should different media forms have different copyright restrictions; does taking a 10-second ‘quote’ from a feature film in a remix video equate with quoting 50 words form a published book in an essay or a published article in a journal?
  2. If some remixes and mashups should be legal, even using copyrighted works, can we define what’s ‘remix’ and what’s just copying? Does remix involve fundamental changes in form, in length, in meaning or something else? If you had to offer a legal boundary between a legitimate remix, and an authorised copy, could you?
  3. Should the intention of a remixed work matter? For example, in the US, ‘fair use’ means that political expression is largely protected, even using material under full copyright. So, for example, the ‘prezvids’ Tryon discusses are ‘legal’ as long as their intent (as political expression) is obvious. Australia, however, doesn’t recognise the same right of political expression.  Do you think intention matters (and if so, how do you ‘prove’ the intent of a piece of media)?

Core Reading

Sanchez, J. (2010). The Evolution of Remix Culture. Retrieved from

Lessig, L. (2008). RW, Revived. In Remix – Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (pp. 51-83). Bloomsbury Academic.

Tryon, C. (2011). Representing the presidency: Viral videos, intertextuality, and political participation. In M. Kackman, M. Binfield, M. T. Payne, A. Perlman, & B. Sebok (Eds.), Flow TV: Television in the Age of Media Convergence (pp. 242-258). London and New York: Routledge. [eReserve]

Bruns, A. (2010). Distributed Creativity: Filesharing and Produsage. In S. Sonvilla-Weiss (Ed.), Mashup Cultures (pp. 24-37). Vienna: Springer. Retrieved from

My thoughts:

Re Lessig’s argument: Just to add some heat from a devils advocate, I’d just like to say that I think we don’t treat text and multimedia differently. It is ONLY in the academic world that we religiously cite anything. I see text and speech as pretty much the same thing. In the real world, when we are reciting text that we have read somewhere, we don’t follow it up with something in parentheses, and then hand a person a bibliography. We just state that we read it. If they ask where, we might try to think of where it was, but it isn’t essential to correctly cite it.

When typing in twitter, or on your blog, or in an email, you don’t write …
I was talking with Tama earlier today and (Leaver, 2011) he suggested that I find an interesting topic to do for my assignment.

Text is ONLY cited in professional circumstances. In circumstances where it is required to be verified, authorised or legally binding. In every other situation I can think of, you don’t cite anything.

So therefore, based on the above, everybody plagiarises all of the time. According to the University of Southern Qld (and here I am attributing blame, not citing them), no human being is capable of original thought, so therefore we plagiarise with every thing we speak, we write, we invent, we dream. And therefore also, there is no difference between text and other media.

If we use the media in a form that is deemed to be regarded as academic, requiring verification, authenticity etc then yes, we should need to provide citations. but in all other forms, no citations are necessary.

that’s how i see it. so yes, i think it’s fair.

Re: copyright vs remixing. Back in the day of the dinosaur, my brother worked for a screenprinting business. They worked on the theory that they had to alter a design by 10% to not breach copyright… so effectively, you could use 90% of what somebody else has designed to create something new.

This is going back to the early 90s, so not sure what the figures are now in screenprinting, particularly as so much of this stuff is not hand created anymore, but churned out by computers – but it would be interesting to know if that still is the rule of thumb.

Re: the importance of intention: I dont’ think it matters what the intention is, but what the purpose of the result is for. If you are creating a piece of entertainment that should be treated completely differently than something created for profitable sale or for use by an elitist university. I think that the internet makes it far harder to justify this ‘elitist’ viewpoint that all things created cannot be shared and shared alike.

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