»Everyone is an artist REMIX.«
— Joseph Beuys feat. digiges
»I am happy to be alive as long as I can paintREMIX.«
— Frida Kahlo feat. digiges
»If the world were clear, artREMIX would not exist.«
— Albert Camus feat. digiges

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Manifesto

We live in an age of remix. Creativity and culture have always drawn from previous works, but with the Internet and digital technologies, the creative re-use of works has been taken to a whole new level. More people are able to edit and share a greater range of works than ever before. More than ever, it has become clear that "everything is a remix!"
In the classic notion of originality, the new creation tended to disguise the old beyond recognition. The core characteristic of the remix as a cultural practice, however, is that the old remains visible within the new. The remix is a creative copy that is readily identified as such. Since creative copying has become commonplace, the right to remix is a fundamental requirement for freedom of expression and free speech. We formulate the right to remix as a combination of three creative rights:  
Remix and remix culture need to be recognized as important forms of expression in the digital society. Establishing a right to remix, however, requires some changes to European and national copyright law. With right2remix.org, we want to contribute to making our rich remix culture more visible, and call for its legislative recognition.

Info

The right to remix can be implemented in a variety of ways, but in any case requires the amendment of several sections of copyright law. Most importantly, we call for changes in the European Copyright Directive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Directive) that would allow for subsequent changes in national legislatures all over Europe. In this manner, the proposed changes would contribute to a more lively and dynamic remix culture.

Right to Remix for the EU Copyright Directive

Introduction of a general bagatelle clause: As Article 5 of the EU Copyright Directive already contains a closed list of possible exceptions and limitations to copyright, EU member states are not allowed to introduce additional exceptions, such as the right to remix, independently. By opening up the list of exceptions and limitations, member states would be enabled to introduce bagatelle clauses, legalizing many everyday online activities that presently infringe copyrights without causing harm for the right holders. This type of bagatelle clause could in turn be combined with a levy system for compensations. Introduction of a remix exception: In addition to opening up the list of possible limitations, we call for the addition of an explicit remix exception to the EU Copyright Directive. This remix exception would permit creative recombinations based on existing works. While uncompensated in non-commercial contexts, commercialization could be regulated via compulsory licensing models.

The Right to Remix in national copyright law

EU member states do not have to wait for the revision of the EU Copyright Directive before they can legalize remix practices and culture. Even within the current list of exceptions and limitations to copyright law, there is considerable leeway for national legislative measures. Legal scholars Bernt Hugenholtz and Martin Senftleben, for example, in their executive summary of a report on flexibility in European copyright law, argue that:  (http://www.ivir.nl/publications/hugenholtz/Fair%20Use%20Report%20PUB.pdf)
"The EU copyright acquis leaves considerably more room for flexibilities than its closed list of permitted limitations and exceptions suggests."


Several concrete measures can be implemented on a national level in order to legalize remix culture:

More links and literature...

Questions & Answers

How do you define remix and remix culture?

Remix means that the original work is still recognizable as such within a derivative work. Remix culture refers to the fact that remix practices that transform works during usage have become ubiquitous in the digital society. To paraphrase Lawrence Lessig, Harvard law professor and founder of Creative Commons: Remix culture is the transition from a passive, consumption-based read-only culture towards an active, creative read/write culture.
For more on this issue, refer to the literature on remix and remix culture.

But most remixes are crap, aren't they?

True. According to Sturgeon's Law, 90% of everything is crap.

In a nutshell, what is the status quo, and what do you want to change?

Our current copyright makes large parts of remix culture illegal. The complicated legal frameworks and costs for clarifying rights inhibit online creativity and prevent that creators be compensated appropriately for the usage of their works. With our "Right to Remix" initiative, we are fighting for the legalization of a diverse remix culture and for fair compensation of creators. Our goal is to enable and recompensate remix culture.

Why is it necessary to change copyright in the first place - wouldn't it be sufficient to simplify licensing ?

Finding simplified ways of licensing content is important, but is neither a solution for copyright problems in general nor for remix culture in particular. Sorting out copyrights is as inappropriate as it is remote from so many everyday online activities, such as uploading the video of your birthday party or sharing a video of your baby with music in the background.

Do we need to change the EU Copyright Directive in order to introduce a right to remix?

An extensive and general right to remix requires changes in the EU Copyright Directive. However, national legislatures are also able to reform certain quotation exceptions or clauses dealing with the free usage of existing works, with the aim of legalizing some of the most common remix practices. Such changes would broaden the possibilities of including parts of previous works in new creations.

Is a right to remix compatible with moral rights?

It is true that a right to remix requires a reform of the European system of moral rights. The right to prohibit the creative re-use of works would then be restricted to a small set of clearly-defined cases. However, a right to remix would obviously leave existing sedition laws and bans on neonazism, defacement, or similar in place.

What about the museum?

Within the framework of the "Right to Remix" campaign, we are planning an online museum that deals with the history and present of remix culture as well as legal quesitons. The remix.museum will allow the wider public to experience remix culture and demonstrate how a lively remix scene is culturally valuable for society as a whole. At the same time, the remix.museum will document the quality and values of remix culture, and hopefully inspire others to engage in remixing activities.

Isn't Creative Commons the best solution for remix problems?

In general, Creative Commons is a great way to let others remix your works. Creative Commons, however, cannot fully compensate for a legalized right to remix, for several reasons:
  • The pool of works available for remix would be limited to Creative Commons-licensed works. And despite the number of Creative Commons-licensed works continuously growing, this still only represents a tiny fraction of all available works.
  • Many creators who are members of collecting societies, like the German GEMA, for instance, are not allowed to publish individual works under Creative Commons license.
  • A core characteristic of remix culture is the transformative and creative usage of mainstream cultural artifacts - these in particular are usually not released under a Creative Commons license.