Remix Reflection

Jimi Hendrix once said, “If it was up to me, there wouldn’t be no such thing as the establishment.” Believed to be one of the greatest guitarists in history, a renowned musician driven by his passion for music, Hendrix helped break the boundaries between jazz, rock, and R&B. Inspired by those who

told him he would amount to nothing, Jimi Hendrix endured his difficult journey ultimately transforming the music world as we know it today. Hendrix, a confident, strong, and outspokenindividual believed in many freedoms. The quote which I mentioned above, rightfully addresses the kind of independence we should fight for. The Establishment, which I interpret as the power in which we are not only controlled by but are subject to adhere to. The term, establishment –could mean a lot. Perhaps our government is what Hendrix was referring to, or even the recording companies who initially refused to allow a young Jimi to explore a more favorable route, or maybe it is a term that we are allowed to define based on our own knowledge, our own background, my establishment may be significantly different that yours (based on the way we were raised or schooled etc…). Determining what Hendrix meant is not what is important here, my point is that even an originator, a creator of a new genre of music, an inventor – Jimi Hendrix still felt pressure from an external environment. And I raise a simple question before I begin my analysis of Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy – what would Jimi Hendrix have been if this pressure, this strain, or limitation did not exist? Unfortunately, we will never no.

As I mentioned, I have no right to decide what Jimi Hendrix implied by using the term the establishment. Joe Harris clearly explains the art of interpretation when he stated, “Texts don’t simply reveal their meanings to us; we need to make sense of them. …each of us comes at what we read through our own experiences and concerns, and so each of us makes a slightly different sense of the texts we encounter.” Harris is pleading with us, to take the time and decide things for yourself.

In Writing 205: Critical Research and Writing, we determined as a class some of the most popular topics Lawrence Lessig mentions in Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. I spent a lot of time focusing on generational gaps, originality/creativity and copyright laws. In the preface, Lessig says, “ We wage war on drugs, on poverty, on terrorism, on racism… and then think about the fact that this war has had essentially no effect…you need to step back from the war to ask, how much is it really costing? Is the result really worth the price” (page XIV).

Inspired by the copyright wars, “waged by pirates” Profressor Lawrence Lessig a Professor and Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University, Lessig was the first to propose the concept of Free Culture to the public. Remix is broken down into three parts, cultures, economies and enabling the future. He explores the effects of copyright laws and brings attention to the seriousness of what I suggested in my previous blog as the critical generational gap.

As many of the class blogs mentioned, copyright laws are undoubtedly criminalizing our youth, deeming them immoral. Whether he mentions the idea of remixes, mashups, etc… Lessig ultimately focuses on the intellectual suppression the law has placed on young, imaginative minds.

In my last post, I brought up the idea of cerebral enrichment. These copyright laws,which were implemented to “help” maintain intellectual property, are actually harming our future. The Internet today feeds our “need” to have the most recent, up-to-date resources; we simply thrive on the freedom it provides. Unfortunately, this has placed the youth in a complex situation. How do they (do we…) decide when to obey the laws, and when it is okay to ignore the rules of copyright. However, I would like to elaborate more by saying how necessary these laws are. I do agree that they must be altered to fit the digital lifestyle of this and future generations, but I think as a model society we must have law to govern us.

One component of the copyright law Lessig provokes, is decriminalizing file sharing. “Either by authorizing at least noncommercial file sharing with taxes to cover a reasonable royalty to the artists…or by authoring a simple blanket licensing procedure” (page 271).  Lessig elaborates that person-to-person file sharing has NOT stopped illegal sharing or efficiently compensated artists. What I took away from this is that Lessig is comfortable enough to admit aloud that copyright, is good, it is necessary, BUT we must create a plan to make it more efficient. Lessig in a way is preparing us, he is trying to explain that future generations will not permit what we are governed by today.

Here is an abstract summary of a book where Neil Netaneal is mentioned once again for his take on decriminalizing file sharing. While Lessig briefly mentions Netaneal in Remix, some examples of P2P sharing like electronic devices, frequency downloads, and computer hardware could be better regulated with the idea of “fair return” makes things a little easier to understand.

In his Lessig’s final chapter “Reforming Us”, he brings up what I consider his most valid point of the irrational copyright war, the idea that government control does indeed have limits. For Lessig, that establishment Jimi Hendrix mentioned would be the creators

of the copyright laws. Children growing up today live in an extreme digital age. They are hearing these laws and unfortunately can make no sense of them. Remix discusses the Hybrid economy and Lessig provides examples of ways in which we can work with the law to make an efficient online environment. Copyright law carries a significant weight on future generations. It is up to us to take a stand and form an online culture appropriate to our needs.

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