Everything Is A Remix

RIP posterCopyright.  Copyleft.  I’ve been through the readings, videos, classmates’ blogs, vlogs and back again, and I still am not sure if I have a definitive stance on which is the best choice.  Rip: A Remixer’s Manifesto stirred up a cyclone of emotions inside of me; anger at how some large corporations control what I have access to simply because of money and sadness at the loss of Aaron Swartz, who succumbed to the stress of being made an example of in the courts because of his beliefs.
In my search for answers, I came across a series of videos by Kirby Ferguson, entitled “Everything is a Remix”.  Several points in this four part series resonated with me:

  • Creations requires influence: Most ideas are born out of a mash-up of daily stimuli from our environment, whether it is a conversation we had, an article we read, a video we watched or a song we heard.  I find it difficult to say that anything I create as a teacher is truly of my own doing.  I can’t help but build upon what others have done before me.  As Ferguson puts it, “Everything we make is a remix of existing creations, our lives and the lives of others.”
  • Copying is how we learn:  From the moment we are born, we learn how to ‘be’ by copying those around us.  You learn to walk and talk by imitation.  If you want to be an artist, you learn by imitating artists that have come before you.   You need to learn about something before you can begin to create new ideas about it.  New ideas emerge from the process of copying to transforming to combining.
  • Most of us are fine with copying as long as we are the ones doing the copying: As humans we are very territorial, and can get upset if we feel a sense of loss over our creation.  In order to feel loss, I believe you need to feel that you owned something in the first place.  After reading some of my classmates’ blogs, I was curious about ownership of materials I create as part of my teaching assignment.  I was actually quite surprised to discover that (if I interpret policy correctly) anything I create, even using the university’s resources, is owned by me.  Vancouver Island University does retain royalty-free perpetual rights to all Intellectual Property created using VIU resources (Policy 31.13, Section 4.5).

So what have I decided?  I think it is important to have some form of copyright, as this does provide incentive for people to work on new ideas and receive recognition or compensation for their work.  But there are some things that have been around for so long, recycled in so many ways, that it is hard to tell who owns them anymore.   When it comes to creating teaching resources, I like the idea of sharing, using resources (like those available through Creative Commons) to remix and create a new resource made publicly available again.  So maybe I’ll coin a new word…Copyinbetween!

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