Chapter 8: Remix Culture: The Creative Commons and its Discontents
Remix culture . . . upholds the remix as an open challenge to a culture predicated on exclusive ownership, authorship, and controlled distribution. Against these cultural forces, the subterranean remix opposes an ongoing questioning of economic and cultural givens. Against ownership it upholds an ethic of creative borrowing and sharing. Against the original it holds out an open process of recombination and creative transformation. It equally calls into question the categories, rifts and borders between high and low cultures, pop and elitist art practices, as well as blurring lines between artistic disciplines. (Bernard Schutze, ‘Samples from the Heap’1) Headquartered in San Francisco, the Creative Commons was oﬃcially launched in 2001. The group is a non-proﬁt organization, which has relied upon contract law to expand the range of creative work available for others to build upon and share legally. This project relies upon a variety of standard contract and licensing schemes to enable copyright holders to grant some of their rights to the public while retaining others. The Creative Commons movement had its origins in the failed eﬀorts to challenge the Sonny Bono Act. Founder Lawrence Lessig recounts that the electronic publisher Eric Eldred encouraged him to develop a constructive alternative to the current copyright laws.2 The academic envisaged a volunteer, collaborative project, which would seek to promote ‘free culture’: Creative Commons is just one example of voluntary eﬀorts by individuals and creators to change the mix of rights that now govern the creative ﬁeld. The project does not compete...
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