Locke Remixed

15 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2007

See all articles by Robert P. Merges

Robert P. Merges

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law


This brief Comment was prepared as part of a conference on Intellectual Property and Social Justice at U.C. Davis Law School in March, 2006. I argue here against a broad legal right to remix digital content - to freely alter or modify pre-existing copyrighted works. I first note that remix culture is flourishing under our current legal regime, partly as a result of high enforcement costs on the part of copyright owners, and partly due to voluntary waivers of copyrights by content owners who see a market opportunity in encouraging remixing. Next, I argue that despite widespread de facto remixing, remixers should not be given a legal right to remix any and all content. I contest the assertion by some theorists that remixing is necessary for the self-actualization of people living in a media-saturated world. I note that themes of rebellion and resistance dominate the narrative of the pro-remix literature, and introduce a counter-narrative: the struggling content creator, trying to make a living creating and selling digital content. Because these creators have a dignity interest in what they create, and because intellectual property rights can help them make a living at what they do, the interests of remixers ought not automatically trump creators' claims.

Suggested Citation

Merges, Robert P., Locke Remixed. UC Davis Law Review, Vol. 40, p. 101, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=962738

Robert P. Merges (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

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