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Appendix 4 - Free to Mix

4.1      Remix:  a combination of two or more creative elements (text + audio + video + animation) to make a new work

A remix is nothing more than a new work made from one or more old works. This new work can take almost any form. Some remix works are songs, stories or films; others are scientific articles or educational resources.

The word ‘remix’ is new, but the practice is as old as culture itself. Ancient Greek tragedians like Sophocles adapted common myths— such as Oedipus the King and Helen of Troy—for their Athenian audience. Closer to our time, Walt Disney remixed over two dozen common fairy tales for his animated films, including Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.

These days, though, when most people hear the word remix, they think of music. In the 1980s, musicians mixed and mashed old jazz, blues, and reggae records, before adding their own beats and raps to create a whole new sound – Hip Hop. Since then, thousands of musicians have built on these early experiments, creating an extraordinarily rich global culture of remix music that includes many of the most popular artists in the world.

Because culture always builds on the past, just about all creative work is a kind of remix. What other remixes can you think of?


4.2      Remix is at the heart of science, education and culture.  With the Internet, it has become easier than ever to find content to share, remix and reuse

It’s not only culture that is constantly being shared, reused and remixed, but science and education too. Scientists, artists and teachers all build on the past, to create new works and make new discoveries.

With the Internet, this extraordinary range of material  available for remix and reuse is larger than ever. And with increasingly pervasive consumer electronics, it has become much easier to make innovative new works.

In fact, according to the 2011 Creative NZ survey, “Digital art has emerged as the artform that young people most want to be more involved with.”

Of course, this can cause problems when it comes to keeping track of who made what—and who owns what. Some people think that anything on the internet is free to copy and use, but this is not the case.
Both online and offline, most recently published creative work falls under copyright, and cannot be shared or reused without permission.  

4.3      Copyright means that certain works cannot be shared, remixed or reused without permission from the copyright holder – usually the author.

Copyright applies to all original works, including films, songs, images, books, dramas, sounds recordings, TV and radio broadcasts and Internet publications and transmissions.  For literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works (except photographs), copyright lasts for the lifetime of the creator, and then an extra 70 years following their death.

Copyright is automatic, and is granted to new works when they are recorded in a material form, such as being written down or saved in a computer. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see the © symbol, or if the site is NonCommercial.  If you are unsure of a work’s copyright status, don’t copy, reuse or remix the work without getting the permission of the copyright holder. 

The world’s first copyright legislation, the Statute of Anne, was made law in 1710.  Back then, copyright lasted for 14 years.  In most countries today, copyright lasts for the life of the author, plus 70 years.  In Australia, for material published by the Federal or State governments, it lasts 50 years from the date of publication.  


4.4      Works in the public domain are part of the Commons.  They can be shared, remixed and reused by everyone.  You can use these works to inspire your new creation!


When the period of copyright in a work is over, the creator’s work enters what is referred to as the public domain. This means anyone is free to use and profit from the work as they please. The term ‘public domain’ has evolved to have two meanings common parlance.  The public domain also refers to something that is accessible by the public.   However, the two meanings are not co-requisite.

The complete works of William Shakespeare are in the public domain, which has led to countless creative performances and adaptations.

Other examples of writers with literary works in the public domain include:

  • Jane Austen:  author of Sense and Sensibility.
  • Hans Christian Anderson:  author of Thumbelina.
  • Katherine Mansfield:  author of The Doll’s House.
  • Lewis Carroll:  author of Alice in Wonderland.
  • Charles Dickens:  author of Oliver Twist.

Under Australian law, most published literary works produced by an author who died at least 70 years ago are in the public domain.


4.5      Creative Commons provides free licences that copyright holders can use to allow others to share, reuse and remix their material, legally.


The Creative Commons licences give users permission to share, remix and reuse copyright works, without having to ask the copyright holder.  Their licences are easy to understand and legally robust.  The suite of six Creative Commons licences provides a range of options between full ‘All Rights Reserved’ copyright and the public domain.

Each licence has different rules and grants a different range of uses.  All Creative Commons licenses require that you credit the original creator when re-using their work in any way.  Note:  any work that uses one of the two “NoDerivatives” licences cannot be used in a remix. 

App 4 - 4.1

4.6       You can find Creative Commons licensed content using a range of search engines.  Here are a few of the best!

Google search has an ‘advanced search’ that lets you search by 'usage rights' for content shared under an open licence:  http://www.google.com/advanced_search.

Flickr is a photo-sharing website with over 250 million Creative Commons licensed images: flickr.com/creativecommons.

Jamendo contains over 350,000 CC licensed songs. Use the advanced search to look by licence:  jamendo.com/search.

CC Mixter has a range of samples and tracks, all with a Creative Commons licence: ccmixter.org/


Creative Commons aggregates a dozen other search engines:

Wikimedia Commons has nearly 14 million media files that are either out of copyright or under a Creative Commons licence, including images from major international art galleries: commons.wikimedia.org

Remember:  As you are finding and downloading content to remix, bookmark the link or write down the source - you are going to need this later.  

4.7       Use these tools to adapt and remix content that has an open licence or is in the public domain.  There are many more tools out there, but these are some of the best.

With so much content available to remix, it can be difficult to know where to start. Choosing what form your remix takes – video, audio or static image – can depend on both your creativity and the content you are using.

With a word processor or a photo editor, you can easily adapt and remix new content. While audio and video may present the biggest technical challenges, the restrictions of static images can make for an equally powerful remix. No one form is better than another—it all depends on how you choose to tell your story.

Once you have your content and story all planned out, the next challenge is to put it all together.

Windows Movie Maker – free to download to Windows
Apple iMovie – free on some Apple computers
YouTube Video Editor - www.youtube.com/editor
Vimeo Enhancer – add music to your video: vimeo.com/enhancer
Youtube Downloader – Download videos online:  www.youtubedownloaderhd.com/

Pixlr – free online photo editor: www.pixlr.com
Fotoflexer – distort and retouch photos online: www.fotoflexer.com
GIMP – open source photo-editing program, free to download: www.gimp.org
Slideshare – make a presentation using your remixed images: www.slideshare.net

Audacity – a free-to-download, open source software, record, edit, and convert audio files: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Download free sound effects - www.mediacollege.com/downloads/ sound-effects/


4.8       It’s easy to reference your sources and apply your own Creative Commons licence, to allow others to legally share, remix and reuse your work.

There are many different ways to reference, but you should always make sure that you give credit to the work’s author or creator and link back to where you found it. If you’re using a Creative Commons work, you should add a statement about what kind of licence the work was made available under.

Choosing a license
If you want to apply a Creative Commons licence to your own work, go to choose.creativecommons.org, and follow the easy steps. The licence tool will give you a Creative Commons button and a licensing statement. Put these on your work, or on the website where the work will be found, and everyone will know what kinds of permissions you want to give.

Distributing your work
Before you distribute your work, make sure you have the permission of anyone who took part in your work, or maybe modelled for a photo you took.

You can share your work on a variety of free websites, including Vimeo, YouTube, Blogspot, Wordpress and many more.  But remember, when you upload your work to these websites to select the appropriate licence for your work, on the website service you use.  For example, when uploading a video to YouTube, make sure you select which type of licence you have applied to the work, from the drop down list on the YouTube upload page.

4.9       Here’s how to reference your sources and make your work available under a Creative Commons licence, to let others share, remix and reuse your work.

App 4 - 4.2

App 4 - 4.3


CC Kiwi by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand.

CC Kiwi is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/nz/ 


The Remix Kiwi is adapted from ‘Creative Commons Kiwi’ by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand.  That work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence.

The Remix Kiwi is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence:


4.10    Find out more information about Creative Commons and the ‘Free to Mix’ guide, visit the following.

On copyright:  Visit the Smartcopying website:  http://www.smartcopying.edu.au/

On Creative Commons:  Go to www.creativecommons.org to find out about Creative Commons.

On Remix:  Read the original Free to Mix Guide by Digital NZ and the National Library of New Zealand here:  http://goo.gl/lLjgl

Watch this remix video to learn more about the remix culture:  ‘Everything is a Remix,’ http://vimeo.com/14912890

4.11    Attribution

This Appendix is an adaptation of ‘Free to Mix’, by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand.

This Appendix is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC-BY 4.0) so that it can be shared and adapted openly, as long as attribution is given.  You are free to use this content so long as you attribute the National Copyright Unit, Copyright Advisory Groups (Schools and TAFEs).