Open Culture -Part 2/3- New Levels of involvement

This is the second part of my essay I wrote for a course about Open Culture. Read the first part.

New Levels of involvement

With the emergence of new technology several fundamental underlying factors to the copyright law has changed. Even though the factors allowing copies to be produced have changed completely the copyright law still remains essentially the same. “During the last 150 years, more barriers than bridges have been made, restricting […] shared culture” (Öberg, 2010). Today there are many more creators and the cost of producing copies has almost reached zero in our digital world.

In the 19th&20th Century, when copyright was formed, we lived in a “read-only” society where there were a limited amount of creators with a slow and cumbersome distribution. Most people lived a life of “Read-only. Passive recipients of culture produced elsewhere. Couch potatoes. Consumers. This is the world of media from the twentieth century” (Lessig, 2004:37).

“The twenty-first century could be different.This is the crucial point: It could be both read and write.Or at least reading and better understanding the craft of writing” (Lessig, 2004:37).

With an increased access to tools that simplify the creation, allowing us all to be creators fairly easy if we want to, we should have reached a paradigm shift in the way copyright enables creativity. With the price of hardware decreasing we are all able to be photographers and take our own pictures if we wish too. These can later be edited using Photoshop or a similar but free program to create even more artistic value in this piece of culture that a photo is. “The technique has been democratized. It is now anybody with access to a $1500 computer who can take sounds and images from the culture around us and use it to say things differently. These tools of creativity have become tools of speech. It is a literacy for this generation.” (Lessig, 2007)

One example of an easier access to tools is the creation of the “grey album” where two classic albums (Beatles “The White Album” and Jay Z’s “The Black Album”) where mixed together to create this new album that was very creative and brought a lot of joy to many people but which was an illegal act of culture according to copyright laws. This was enabled by new simple tools creating the possibility of this creativity. Remixing can be seen as a form of (re)creativity where someone uses their specialized knowledge to give the work another dimension of life.

Other examples of creative work, which have parted with the traditional views of copyright and how it is supposed to be used to protect creativity, can be seen in the movie “Nasty old people” and the tv-series “Pioneer one”. The movie “Nasty old people” is made by a Swedish producer, Hanna Sköld, who didn’t want to wait for funding so she took a loan from the bank and produced and distributed the movie by herself with some help. The movie was released with a Creative Commons license which means it was free to distribute and was spread freely through the Internet. It has been in cinemas all over the world and fans of the movie have translated the subtitles of the movie to 10+ languages. Less than a year later the loan had been paid back which shows that there are several ways of licensing a creative work apart from utilizing copyright. The other example is the tv-series “Pioneer One” that used crowd-funding to be able to get enough capital to create their series and release it freely.

Part 3: When Ideas Have Sex



Lessig, Lawrence (2004). Free Culture – How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity. New York: The Penguin Press.

Sköld, Hanna (2010). Nasty Old People, blog, accessed on 2 October 2010,

The Grey Album‘, Wikipedia, wiki article, 19 September 2010, accessed 2 October 2010,

Pioneer One (2010). online webpage, accessed 3 October 2010,

Öberg, Jonas (2010), How do you explain creative commons, blog, accessed 18 August 2010, http://jonasoberg.netslash 2010/08/25/how-do-you-explain-creative-commons

[pic: CC-BY-NC, rafeejewell]

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Josef Ohlsson Collentine

A transparent and kind American/Swede who likes cultural patterns and Social Media. A creative early-adopter who sports, discusses and explores. More about me
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