FREE [digital] CULTURE: an ecosystem for democracy

Remix culture relies on free culture; it relies on creative commons and an open source ideology. This aspect of freedom is of course, essential to remixing an collaboration because it lawfully dictates than an artist or individual can use open content at their leisure whether as imitation or explicitly in their own work. I believe this approach carries salience in culture at large because it does not infringe upon knowledge and information that could enlighten present and future populations. In academia as well as on the internet, information is the currency by which we rely on to grow and learn. Sure, without the existence of copyright, there would be no copyleft but I do believe that open source is hugely important to democracy. The four R’s make the advantages more obvious:

  1. Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

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I like the believe in the goodness of others and the expansive possibility of artistry. That a democratic society does not need “all rights reserved” because wealth can be derived by other means. Every moment those around us, even strangers who we shall never meet are “peering in” on a part of who-i-am online–in this way they are paying attention and so, value is still brought into a “free culture.” It seems naive to think that the internet should have restrictions imposed upon what is already “out there.” I am aware that an entity like Facebook owns more informations about ourselves that we would like to admit, so really we are already producing unpaid labor. *Think: Wages for Facebook

Indeed, the platform networks of social media has the economic interest for its users to consume, to share, produce, participate and collaborate whether in conversation or creation of content. In this sense, it might be in our best interest to restrict [governmental, public] access to personal information that we deem “private” but all else, all that is broadcasted on these otherwise public forums is in the commons.

In consideration of digital existences and digital-affordances, the concept of intellectual property & a conservative interpretation of copyright is weakened. Though we still have to pay for access to documents in the public domain or monetarily subscribe to academic databases, that may change simply because of the ecosystem on which the internet functions. Intellectual property is vulnerable  to hacking simply by way of online publication. Reproduction becomes a by-product, fraught with copying and mass, instant redistribution. I think of the tragic display and demise of Aaron Swartz in this way and his call for open access & de-privatization of information in fear of an end to democracy and dialogue. He was made out to be a felon, 11 times over. Only to see his own end at 26.

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I am uncertain about how to measure the labor of “originality” in a time when it feels fragile and easily compromised by another’s desire to appropriate or remix. I suppose copyright is valuable in the sense of protecting the laborer, but I think the laborer must be sensitive to the environment that he/she is producing in– do not post your work online if you fear it will be misused or reused. I refuse to be discomforted by “some rights reserved” because I know there are times when I wish to take freely and be inspired to work with something that has already been produced.

“The goal of US copyright law is to promote the progress of knowledge and culture. Its best-known feature is protection of owners’ rights. But copying, quoting, recontextualizing, and reusing existing cultural material can be critically important to creating and spreading knowledge and culture” (14.)


A lot of music I listen to is sampled from, or even sampled/mixed/ taken by other artists. Tokimonsta is an LA based DJ who does and inspires a lot of this. It seems more common & acceptable to sample from and share music among artists so less social & economic risk is at bay when nearly everyone participates in this practice.


a piece of outsourcing for education through image & text

I was not concerned with using most of this this material as I found that it is under the creative commons share alike license. I believe it is also deemed “fair use” if expressed or used in a way that is educational as well.

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Injustice for New Media Activist: Aaron Swartz

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Newsworthy indeed… after an extended hiatus, I am finally enthralled enough to engage in dialogue on the free culture movement that began not long ago.

For those familiar with the death of Aaron Swartz, and his previous involvement with “illegally” accessing and downloading thousands of JSTOR academic articles to the public domain, his sudden death and the months leading up to it are full of both mystery and tragedy. JSTOR did not press charges against Swartz for releasing information. That much is true. So who is to blame? Was he targeted by federal authorities? To what extend should his actions been punishable? What role did MIT play in his arrests and prosecution & even his suicide?

The supposed “neutrality” of MIT in this case is upsetting…is this the money talking? What does the 180 page report on MIT’s involvement really suggest?  What does Aaron’s death say about the rhetoric of news presentation? So many questions have gone unanswered. I feel a sense of duty to his free cultural movement, and to the Millennial Generation– we need to inform others about this suggestively abusive case. I know where I stand as a new media & free culture activist; I am under the impression that I have much to learn about the history behind this case, but I am still certain that as a member of the digital age, we are all entitled to share information. I am fulfilling that purpose.

“In an open letter, the M.I.T. president, L. Rafael Reif, applauded the “careful account” that he said set “the record straight by dispelling widely circulated myths.” The report, he said, “makes clear that M.I.T. did not ‘target’ Aaron Swartz, we did not seek federal prosecution, punishment or jail time, and we did not oppose a plea bargain.” -NY Times

As unclear as everything may seem, it is imperative that we decide what is right….each of us have as much power as Aaron once did..

What do you believe?

NY Times Full-Articlehttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/us/mit-releases-report-on-its-role-in-the-case-of-aaron-swartz.html?_r=0

180 page MIT Report: http://swartz-report.mit.edu/docs/report-to-the-president.pdf

kfetts

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