cupidsbow (cupidsbow) wrote,

Intellectual Property, Remixing and Art

In my recent post on cliches and idfic, I casually said that I identify as a remix artist. It just occurred to me today that I haven't really said why that is.

The thing is, for a while now I've been seeing strong parallels and cross-connection between all sorts of different movements, from Warhol to opensource, DeviantArt to AMV, fanfiction to mashups, sampling to critique and review. All these things are about how people are interacting with technology every day, and not just digital technology, but pens and paper and clothes and food fusions and everything else.

And many, but not all, of these remixes exist in legal grey areas. Some, like critique and review, are largely considered legal. Some, like transformative fanworks, are likely legal under the doctrine of Fair Use in the US, but may or may not be legal elsewhere. Some may technically be legal as a finished product, but to get there require types of 'copying' or decrypting which are considered flat-out piracy and theft.

I see a common thread linking these practices, which is the act of remixing to create a new thing. I also see a common battlefront in terms of how Intellectual Property laws are encroaching on the Public Domain, and also how fencing laws, like Digital Rights Management, are effectively attempting to stifle acts of creativity, many of which (or their precursors) were legal in the non-digital era.

Perhaps worst of all, the pro-IP side of the battlefront is so white, so rich, so male, so Western, so concerned with making sure that corporations continue to get theirs, and that everyone else is locked out.

I don't want to be on that side. I want to share the wealth. I want artists to be able to create, and preferably to eat (which doesn't seem to me to be a focus of the pro-IP side at all, despite the rhetoric).

So, yeah. For a while now, I've thought of myself as a writer, an artist, a remixer.

Behind the cut are some links to videos and a few other bits and pieces about IP and remix, just so you can see the kind of stuff I'm marinating in.

  • The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind by James Boyle. Fascinating online book about IP and how and why it's breaking.

  • Good Copy Bad Copy: A documentary about the current state of copyright and culture, directed by Andreas Johnsen, Ralf Christensen and Henrik Moltke. A really interesting (although sadly male-focused) 2007 documentary which was recommended to me by several people. It paints such a powerful picture of how vibrant remix is, and how stagnant the TPTB anti-piracy doctrine is.

  • Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video by AUSoC Centre for Social Media. With the failure of IP law to meaningfully engage with real-world practice, community bodies are creating codes of practice such as this one.

  • Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants: Part 1, Part 2 by Marc Prensky. An influential academic paper on why the net generation are different to the generations before, and why they aren't going to suddenly respect the old ways of doing things.

  • Open Source Activity Map by redhat. Just what the name says, colour-coding regions by their activity in contributing opensource stuff. Australia ranks fourth in the world for activity. I would not be at all surprised if other forms of remix culture rate at similarly high levels. If any of you know of research on this, I'd love a link.

  • WolframAlpha: Computational Knowledge Engine. This is the future. Awesome.

  • FanFiction.Net: Unleash your imagination. The pit of voles. Love it or loathe it, the creative energy it represents is astounding. I take it for granted most of the time, but being part of a creative movement so huge, varied and gift-focused changed my life and my art.

I'd love to hear your take on remix. What made you sit up and take notice of remix culture? How did you end up here? Where do you think we're going to end up?

I tell you what, ten years ago, I never would have dreamed we'd end up here. Imagine where we might be in another decade.

ETA: I have been meaning to post about how I'm using tech differently to find fanworks and now I don't have to, thanks to catechism.
Tags: essay, links, politics, women/writing

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