Larry Lessig has many examples of ‘remix culture’ in his book, Free Culture. Examples of images or other existing works taken out of context and then used to make a point or make new creative works. I’ve given examples in the past, too, like the post I once did on the Tarnation film. The point that Lessig (and others) have made about ‘Remix Culture’ is the fairly simple old adage: creativity often builds on the past.

I reckon this new Unicef ad campaign against child soldiers in Belgium is a pretty good example.

Sometimes, you need to use existing material to make your point. Sometimes, ‘free speech’ and effective communication requires access to cultural icons like this. Surely, this Unicef campaign is a good example of that basic point? Of course, Unicef risk offending people who don’t want their ‘childhood icons’ used for political purposes. But free speech sometimes is offensive. Attention grabbing? Thought provoking? Not nearly as effective if ‘no name’ cartoons had been created? Yes, to all of the above.

And yet, of course, to the extent that copyright protects the smurfs and their appearance and their ‘song’, use like this would require a defence of fair dealing. This would have to be ‘criticism or review’. Is it?

The story can be found here on SMH.