Remix Culture: Copyright heaven or copyright hell?

It is with simultaneous enjoyment and disdain that I write now about the topic of copyright; that double-edged sword that is meant to protect the innocent but also carves them up like a roast turkey. I’ve been an opponent of DRM since my old high school days when I tried to play a game called Spore and was unable to install it due to already being on other computers in my house. However these days I find myself more concerned about what DRM is doing to the new “remix culture” that is blossoming in the age of social media and sharing sites such as Youtube and Reddit. Guilda Rostama speaks a lot about this: In the age of remixes, at what point does something become a worthy piece and at what point does it simply violate copyright? Is it right to takedown remixes because they used the source material? Do remixes truly take away from the original, or do they assist people in appreciating the original in a new and fresh way?

While it’s true that remixes do violate copyright technically, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be done. We’re entering an age of participatory culture, where everyone is invited to come in and contribute something to a work. In such an age, can copyright truly exist as it does now, with millions of people around the world taking their own fresh spin on it? I believe that copyright as a whole needs a makeover, just like DRM does in the gaming industry. It seems to do little but stifle the creativity of the people making things and force them to get around it in clever but arbitrary ways in order to release their work online. I mean, how many times have you seen “This video is no longer available” on Youtube when looking up your favorite music, only to find the only option is 5 bucks on iTunes? When something becomes excessive and crippling to purchase and enjoy, this is usually when piracy goes up. We’ve seen this happen with games paired with the latest DRM Denuvo, which was cracked in mere months after being touted as “Un-crackable” by its creators. In the words of Gabe Newell, founder of Valve, “Piracy is a service problem.”

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