The New Prohibition: Remix Culture & Copyright

Culture is not a crime

Culture is not a crime

The New Prohibition: Remix Culture & Copyright

If there’s one concept that has has been a product of more damage than just about anything else due to the internet and the ongoing explosion of digital media, it’s copyright: the idea that the content creator should have virtually unlimited control his or her creation. In the reading, Lawrence Lessig introduced the distinction between professional work and amateur work. I wholeheartedly agree that copyright should be enforced when it comes to re-creating or duplicating professional work. However, today in the digital age that we live in internet users are constantly utilizing the “mixing” of music, photos, ideas, and culture to recreate a work. This action is equivalent to the “gathering in the lawn singing” behavior that individuals took part in before technology emerged that the reading described.

With that being said, many people focus on copyrighted television shows that are posted on Youtube. So my question is, Is the rise of the YouTube generation changing the way we think about copyright ? If the answer is yes, should we allow this happen? Do we have a say so in whether or not it should happen? The reading pointed out the growing number of popular music “how to” videos that have sparked millions of viewers and call and responses. I did a little observation on my to truly see how users respond to to popular videos thus re-creating them each one building off the next.

Wobble Video
The Wobble Line Dance by VIC came out about a year ago and received nearly 4 million views worldwide. Since then, there have been thousands of different versions/”how to’s” for the popular dance. As I researched the way users were building off of the video I cam across Army Style, Amateur at home tutorials, and even Flash Mob Style Tutorials. Some people would argue that the spin offs of the original video should be protected, however I disagree because users are simply sharing creativity. Remix culture is not based off of a technique necessarily, anyone with a computer is capable in participating in this worldwide culture.

Whether it’s a TV show like the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or Scandal, or a popular song, or a movie like the Twilight series, they are almost constantly sharing remixes, parodies, mashups, and other references through social platforms like YouTube, and sites like Twitter and Facebook. Almost every one of these is probably illegal (although some might be covered by fair use if they ever went through the legal system).

Should all of this content be removed from the Internet or the uploaders and creators of mashups be prosecuted? That’s the traditional media industry’s response, but I think it is incredibly close minded. If you are a modern media company, you should want your content to be shared and remixed in this way particularly. In fact, new media companies especially should be making it easier for this to happen, not harder. That kind of sharing is how content is distributed now. In essence, Lessiburg pointed out that it is impossible to “kill” this form of creativity, but it can be criminalized. We live in an age of prohibition where all aspects of our lives are against of law. Ultimately we must stop this war.

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