Digital Copyright and the Consumer Revolution
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Digital Copyright and the Consumer Revolution

Hands off my iPod

Matthew Rimmer

With a focus on recent US copyright law, the book charts the consumer rebellion against the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act 1998 (US) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1998 (US). The author explores the significance of key judicial rulings and considers legal controversies over new technologies, such as the iPod, TiVo, Sony Playstation II, Google Book Search, and peer-to-peer networks. The book also highlights cultural developments, such as the emergence of digital sampling and mash-ups, the construction of the BBC Creative Archive, and the evolution of the Creative Commons.
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Chapter 8: Remix Culture: The Creative Commons and its Discontents

Matthew Rimmer


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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