The Third Paradigm
In the song ‘Caught, Can I Get a Witness?’, Carlton Douglas Ridenhour – Public Enemy’s front man, better known by his stage name Chuck D – bragged ‘[c]aught, now in court ‘cause I stole a beat / This is a sampling sport / Mail from the courts and jail / Claims I stole the beats that I rail … I found this mineral that I call a beat / I paid zero’. These lines were written shortly after the judicial turmoil that took down digital sampling. Chuck D’s witness may be of use for an entire generation of digital remixers, vidders, machinima creators, fangame developers, fanfiction writers, and users generating content. In this book, I marshal evidence to demonstrate that digging for ‘minerals’, appropriating them and reusing them to produce follow-on creativity is exactly what creativity is all about. From the oral-formulaic tradition to digital remix, the making of creativity and culture has been thriving through appropriation, imitation and borrowing.
There is a revisionist twist to this book’s historical perspective on the nature, mechanics and economics of creativity. Here, we will look at the past to understand the future. The findings yielded by historical research can be applied to digital creativity, user-generated content and remix culture. Investigating the tension between the communal and the individual nature of creativity draws attention to the cumulative nature of creativity, which seems to find little recognition in modern copyright policies. Within the premodern mechanics and economics of creativity lies...
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