This section is concerned with ethics in remix. Issues such as those surrounding the unauthorized appropriation and reuse of copyrighted content by remixers, whether content producers should make their work available for universal reuse, and the changing concepts of privacy and freedom of expression in the face of increasing cultural protectionism are explored in an attempt to present a balanced perspective on remix culture. In framing these issues, questions related to authorship, copyright, originality and the changing nature of audiences in the production/consumption dichotomy are considered in an effort to establish the role of ethics in remix.
16) “The Emerging Ethics of Networked Culture”
In this chapter Sinnreich synthesizes the results of two large-scale surveys fielded in 2006 and 2010, documenting the emerging ethical frameworks surrounding remix-based “configurable” cultural practices in the US and around the world. As the data show, in the absence of a flexible and robust legal framework, individuals and communities have developed their own sets of standards to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate copying. I further examine the data to show that demography and geography play a role in the development of configurable ethics, with significant ethnic, generational, and national divergences between the communities that adopt one standard versus those that adopt another. Finally, I relate these community-based ethical frameworks to those adopted by DJs and remix musicians themselves, drawing upon extensive primary interview research conducted over the past 6 years.
17) “The Panopticon of Ethical Video Remix Practice”
Creating remix videos without the right to do so is a form of trespassing, and video remixers are left without a framework of law and regulation when navigating in everyday remix practice. Which mechanisms are brought into play within video remix communities when producing and establishing common ethics, otherwise upheld by normative standards of law? In this chapter, the author is engaged with video remixers and ethics of remix production. Based on an empirical study it is argued that norms come into existence through the everyday actions of remixers and not through rules enforced by an elite. It is a do-ocracy and a reconstruction of Foucault’s allegory of the panopticon, which has been deprived its tower of power. Respondents showed a shared antipathy against rules and regulations but also a common interest in being fair. And such ethical behavior seems to be encouraged by an invisible omniscience of other remixers.
18) “Cutting Scholarship Together/Apart: Rethinking the Political-Economy of Scholarly Book Publishing”
In this essay Adema provides an analysis of the way the cut and the practice of cutting have been theorized in remix studies through a diffractive reading of a selection of critical theory, feminist new materialist and media studies texts that specifically focus on the act of cutting. She then explores how the potential of the cut and related to that, how the politics inherent in the act of cutting, can be applied to scholarly book publishing in an affirmative way by exploring two cutting-edge book publishing projects, Living Books about Life and remixthebook.
19) “Copyright and Fair Use in Remix: From Alarmism to Action”
The US copyright policy of fair use is enormously valuable to remixers of all kinds. People who want to create something new will, whether they want to or not, sample from their cultural surroundings, and they typically employ fair use, whether they know it or not, to do so. When they circulate that work, they may face questions or challenges of their unlicensed use. Remix culture is often celebrated as novel and innovative. But a study of video remix shows that the uses to which remixers put existing material often conform to time-honored creative practices, recognized in law as appropriate for unlicensed use under fair use. This mapping was then used in the process of creating a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video, which has been successfully employed by remixers and has not been challenged by large copyright holders.
20) “I thought I made a vid, but then you told me that I didn’t: Aesthetics and boundary work in the fan vidding community”
In this chapter Freund discusses fan-video editors known as vidders, who edit film and television footage and set it to music. She discusses how vidders make sense of their own practices as separate from other remix communities, and discusses how aesthetics and history are used to mark the limits of vidding practices. She follows this by analyzing the role of the online community in shaping the aesthetics of vidding as a remix form. As more than ninety percent of vidders identify as female, she investigates how vidders understand their aesthetic choices as linked to their gender. She also considers the role of history in delineating aesthetic boundaries of vidding, as the practice is generally agreed to have begun more than thirty years ago using slide projectors and later VCRs. Defining the community and determining its boundaries is of deep importance to its members, in opposition to theories that emphasize the fluidity and expansiveness of online communities.
21) “Peeling The Layers of the Onion: Authorship in Mashup and Remix Cultures”
Unfortunately, the sophisticated critique of the traditional construction of authorship set in motion by Roland Barthes’ 1967 “The Death of the Author” only partially achieved its goals. The sole, originating, and proprietary author remains at the center of how copyright is understood, despite widespread practices of collaboration, curation, and connection among composers of contemporary works. These practices do not map neatly onto traditional authorship models, creating increasing tensions between copyright law and common composing practices, especially those facilitated by digital media. This project tracks the expanding network of contributors with legally grounded claims to have participated in the authorship of a single, relatively simple mashup. Peeling the layers of this “onion” proves both challenging and instructive—and underscores the need for a legal framework nimble enough to fairly address the complexities of twenty-first century composing practices.
22) “remixthecontext (a theoretical fiction)”
New media artists can now expand the forms of transmedia narrative to foreground an anti-disciplinary [anti-authoritarian and interdisciplinary] approach to both contemporary practice and theory. In remixthecontext, Amerika turns to his own practice-based research as a remix artist to investigate what he terms “ways of filtering”—a manipulated version of John Berger’s “ways of seeing.” Focusing on the way contemporary remixologists experiment with conceptual language art and conduct experiments in the fields of digital distribution, remixthecontext features the voice of a remix artist who is at once a transmedia narrator, a net artist, a gypsy professor, and a social media performer. In this work, Amerika reclaims the terms “transmedia narrative” and “remix” as he attempts to create an anti-disciplinary set of theoretical fictions that resist the lure of “convergence culture.” For Amerika, this turn toward “convergence” seems unnecessarily anachronistic given the distributed and personalized nature of social media art practices. In this context, the essayistic style created for remixthecontext mashes-up a number of experimental writing forms including metafiction, critical theory, and what the artist terms “pseudo-autobiography.”