If some remixes and mashups should be legal, even using copyrighted works, can we define what’s ‘remix’ and what’s just copying? Does remix involve fundamental changes in form, in length, in meaning or something else? If you had to offer a legal boundary between a legitimate remix, and an authorised copy, could you?  Should the intention of a remixed work matter? For example, in the US, ‘fair use’ means that political expression is largely protected, even using material under full copyright. Australia, however, doesn’t recognise the same right of political expression.  Do you think intention matters (and if so, how do you ‘prove’ the intent of a piece of media)?

Can “remix” be defined separate to copying? Yes, I think it can, or at least copying can be defined as different to a remix.  When copying the written words of a text (quoting) the words remain the same, but the paper they are printed or written on is different, and the ink used is also different. There is no possible way of using the very same paper and the very same ink used as the original writer. Even the act of re-printing a book is an act of copying or quoting – yes, it is (presumably) approved by the copyright owner and the associated publishers, but it is still a copy – hence the term “a copy of the book called..”.  To take this into the worlds of TV & Films, the authorised act of duplicating a film in its entirety by the film companies, is still making a copy.  That is what I would call a traditional copy.

Then we have the “photocopy” copy. The kind when the words are the same, but the paper and ink are very obviously different.  Transposing this to film &/or TV, the actions seen are the same as the original, but the ‘paper’ and ‘ink’ used are different because the background is different and the actors are also different.  This is what I would call a photocopy of something and not a mashup or remix.

A mashup or remix in my view is more a situation where, using film & tv examples, a character (or two or three) is taken from the original source, placed in the location from another source, and given the dialogue of another another source.  For example, the Star Wars characters are put in the locations found in Evita and given the dialogue of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.  This to me is a true mashup or remix.


Star Wars – A New Hope


Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet