Me, a remix pirate?

How My ‘Perfect YouTube’ Moment Was Ruined.

A mum uploads a YouTube video of her 13 month-old son shakin’ his little booty to a Prince song, and ends up in a battle of copyright infringement between her, YouTube and Universal Music. Who called the party police.

- Stephanie Lenz, Mother of the child.

– Stephanie Lenz, Mother of the child.

While that sounded like the punchline to a bad joke, it was an extreme example of the issues arising in the remix culture of today. I too once had what Lessig (2008) refers to as ‘Perfect YouTube Moment’. My friend and I uploaded a remake of a Jonas Brothers music video in the hope we would win a competition that may (or may not) result with the Jo Bros viewing it. And like the mum who merely wanted to share a moment of captured culture, our hopes and dreams were crushed as the ‘unauthorised performance’ was automatically removed. Thanks YouTube, no really.

As Lessig (2008) notes, companies like YouTube are ‘deluged’ with demands to remove material from their system as a result of copyright regulation. But in a convergent culture exploding with the technology to create and distribute cultural material, how could you not expect active audiences to add to the culture they ‘read’ by creating and re-creating the culture around them (Lessig, 2008).

Take this remix for example.


So what’s the big deal?

These technologies allow participants an equal chance to have their message heard, and potentially capture even more attention than the original source. Perhaps, as Bruns (2010) suggests, the entertainment industries see their established positions threatened by the rise of consumer-generated content, content often distributed through networks outside their control.

But it can be argued that these acts of participation are merely part of an ongoing stream of content development and improvement. As Bruns (2010) states, it’s only natural for culture to evolve, develop and move forward. 

And what about mash-ups? Their very existence relies on prior content to be remixed and remade; surely the basis of fair use can continue to exist as a copyright exception?

Otherwise we wouldn’t have videos like this.



Bruns, Axel (2010) Distributed Creativity: Filesharing and Produsage. pp1-12

Lessig, Lawrence (2008) Remix: making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy, Penguin Press, Great Britain, pp.23-31




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s