Originality is dead, but so what?

In the modern society, creating a completely original piece of work has become an impossible task. Whether you’re creating a work of music, text, film or software, the basic framework of the piece will undoubtedly already be in existence. This leads us to a culture of remixing and remaking, taking the best parts of already available material and combining and improving on them, recombining them in exciting new ways. (Ferguson 2011) Which brings us to the question, is a solely remix culture really that bad? In the modern age, “new” material is quicker than ever to make, and most often samples or combines all the best bits of systems before it. Shouldn’t this mean the overall quality and rate of progress in the system is also increasing, and if so, wouldn’t remix culture actually be a good thing?
Technology’s rapid advancement has remix culture to thank. For countless generations, scientists and inventors have been taking prior research, either to find physical applications or as a basis for further research. (Brown 2013) The wealth of knowledge we have now would not exist without humans’ innate ability to take information and change it to suit our own purposes.
So what’s the problem? Admittedly, not all remixes-especially in the music world- are better than the original. It also gives rise to a nightmare of patent and copyright claims, as creators struggle to maintain the integrity of their “original” creations. As it stands, the law recognises ideas or patentable material as completely separate entities, unlike any other existing material. But if everything is a remix of some sort, how is it possible to claim rights over anything? (McGraw 1988) This legislation grey area has been the headlining topic in many court cases all over the world, and will only be resolved when the law finally evolves to keep up with the ever developing culture.

An example of remix culture at it’s finest.


Brown, P. (2013, 15/11/2013). “Remixing Science.” Scilogs. Retrieved 30/04/2014, 2014, from http://www.scilogs.com/from_the_lab_bench/remixing-science/.

Ferguson, K. (2011). Everything is a Remix Part 1. Everthing is a Remix. Retrived 30/04/2014 from http://vimeo.com/14912890

McGraw, M. (1988). “Sound Sampling Protection and Infringement in Today’s Music Industry.” Berkeley Technology Law Journal 4.


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