Ethics of Remix Culture

What’s Remix Culture?

Remix culture has been a hot topic lately in the media creation world. Essentially, “remix culture” refers to the ever-growing ability of ordinary people to take apart, stitch together, organize, and edit all kinds of information and media content, essentially making their own new “product” out of preexisting content. The power of remix culture is best appreciated through examples, and it’s easy to find them – from new music sensations to revolutionary trends in journalism. Here’s the ultimate example: a user-created video, combining elements from two of the biggest news items – and huge new media sensations on Twitter, Youtube, and more – from June 2009. Heads up – this contains images of violence and injury from post-election violence in Iran.

Ethics in a Remix Culture

This new era of media creation is much more participatory and less focused on ownership. You can remix almost anything into almost anything else. This raises some ethical concerns –  putting together unrelated content, taking things out of context, failing to disclose your sources, and hiding your own identity while doing so.  Identify some commitments to ethics you think you can and should keep while remixing media. We like the Online Journalism Review‘s guide to ethics in online journalism.

Ethics in Editing

The same principles  apply to editing in general – you have to edit ethically, maintaining as much truth and security as possible.  This sounds simple, but take a look at this video and you’ll see how ethics  issues can and do come up.

Remix Culture and the Law

Remember, no matter how much you hear about and believe in the brave new world of participatory media, you still want to be sure you have the rights to use all of the material that ends up in your video. Read our guide to copyright and Creative Commons to make sure you won’t run into any legal troubles.

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