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Copycats vs. Fat Cats: the Art & Politics of Remixing and Occupying the Creative Commons

Jane Kagon
April, 2012 

From oral mythology to Homer’s Odyssey, from African ritual objects to Picasso’s paintings, from "The Seven Samurai" to "The Magnificent Seven", from Billy Joel’s "New York State of Mind" to Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind", the list(s) of copycats goes on and on. Why? Because adapting, combining or remixing others' works is a core component of human creative processes and of cultural development since time immemorial.

Copying is arguably a part of our DNA, a biological component for human evolution. And in these revolutionary times, in a participatory culture where innovation is a core competency for glocal economic growth, remixing is widespread. But at the same time, there is a collusion of forces, which directly or indirectly are attempting to stifle the creative process. Antiquated copyright laws, misguided legislators looking to assert more restrictive intellectual property statutes, and a corporate oligopoly which co-opts (remixes?) culture to sell goods, are among those responsible. 

Nevertheless, due to the power of new wave technology, there is no way creative communication designers can be stopped, nor their remixing asperations be denied. Legal scholars, such as Harvard's Larry Lessig, a foremost authority on copyright issues are trying to reconcil creative freedom with marketplace competition. New approaches to matters related to copying, such as The Creative Commons license, are evolving in order to keep culture and creativity alive.  

For example see: Political Remix sites such as Total Recut and Political Remix Videos and Kirby Feguson's "Everything is Remix", below:

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