Copy + Combine = Create?

According to the World International Property Organisation, intellectual property (IP) is creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Law protects it, by creating a balance between people’s innovative ideas and the interests of society to use their material. It offers recognition or financial profit to the owner when the work is used.

While IP encourages creativity and innovation in a fair way, it is being challenged by the “remix culture”. Amateur creators believe in their right to use existing works to create new and unique works. “The Internet has made it even easier to re-use and remix the existing store of knowledge and culture, producing a new dimension of creativity” (Fitzgerald & O’Brien, 2006, p. 1). However, these creators do not often have the legal right to create these remixes.

A product of the remix culture is mashups. These are a combination of content from a number of different sources to produce something new and creative (Fitzgerald & O’Brien, 2006, p. 1). Most common forms of mashups are videos and websites but there are many other types that can be found on the Internet. Take for example fan fiction. These are fictional stories written by fans that include characters and sometimes themes of television series, movies, and other creative works without authorisation from the original author. They are combined with original ideas and characters of the author to create a new story. There are websites dedicated to Harry Potter FanFiction, with thousands of stories essentially ‘copying’ J. K. Rowling’s characters and ideas. According to Ernest Chua’s Murdock University eLaw Journal, In Australia, fan fiction arguably is an infringement of copyright laws. However, using the ‘fair use’ defence, fan fiction can be identified as a review or criticism of the original work, which is legal (2007).

In Kirby Ferguson’s TED Talk, Embrace the remix; he argues that everything is remixing, a process of copying, transforming and combining. I think these are the basic elements of all creativity. I think everything is a remix, and I think this is a better way to conceive of creativity” (2012).

The rise of the Internet and digital technology has allowed for many people to prosper creatively by allowing them to be their own producers or publishers. While many people will continue to debate over copyright and remixing I agree with Ferguson, we encourage one another to be creative by feeding off each other’s ideas. I still think creative rights are important, but the Internet is a weird and wonderful place that has given us more opportunities than ever before, so the last thing we want to do is put a stop to it.


Chua, E 2007, ‘Fan Fiction and Copyright; Mutually Exclusive, Coexist-able or Something Else-Considering Fan Fiction in Relation to the Economic/Utilitarian Theory of Copyright’, eLaw Journal, vol. 14, no. 215, pp. 215-232.

Ferguson, Kirby 2012, Embrace the remix, TED, viewed 6 September 2014, <;.

O’Brien, D. S., & Fitzgerald, B. F. 2006, ‘Mashups, remixes and copyright law’, Internet Law Bulletin, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 17-19.

2014, What is Intellectual Property?, World Intellectual Property Organisation, viewed 7 September 2014, <;.


3 thoughts on “Copy + Combine = Create?

  1. Nicely written post with good use of links and video embedding. Just a heads up though some of the links do not open in new windows so may be worthwhile editing that so its a more fluent read. Content wise I agree with your discussion, there is no more 100% originality and I say embrace your influences. Even Led Zeppelin “stole” ideas from their favourite artists, look where it got them!

  2. Hi there, this was a well researched and professional post. I really liked that you included the loophole in Australian law for fan fiction, I didn’t know about that! I also felt you explained remix culture clearly and provided relevant examples. I definitely agree with you and Ferguson, it is the influence of others that inspires our creativity!

  3. Totally didn’t know about that loophole!!! This was an easy read and very relatable to this week’s lecture in that the differences and similarities in iPhone & Androids are ironically very similar!! Great touch in terms of relevance and Ferguson. Citizen Journalism ftw!

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