Remix Culture and Tent

It’s great when people love the things you make. Anyone should be able to remix, mashup, reuse, and repurpose content created by others without taking credit or sales from the original creator. Tent makes this possible.

Recent technological advances have democratized content creation, especially of remixes and mashups. Conflicts too easily arise between artists who remix the content and the creators of the original source material. This is largely due to the distribution of remixes which actually include copies of parts of the source material, often used without permission.

User should be able to listen to audio, watch video, and read text however they want. No one’s rights are violated if I only watch the first scene of a movie or skip the third song when listening to an album. Remixes are just a series of very complex instructions on how to play content to achieve a different experience. In essence the instructions that make up a remix are just a more complicated version of “play the first two seconds of song A then start playing song B and stop playing song A 5 seconds later”. Computers can interpret these instructions in real time seamlessly.

Tent allows artists who remix content to publish only the “instructions” for the remix with links to the original source material (on Tent or otherwise). Users who play a remix negotiate for each of the pieces of original content through their Tent servers. They might already own of the content or have access to it through a streaming service (think Spotify or Netflix), some might be available for free, and they might have to pay for some. They could also pay for the remix “instructions” which are really just a Tent post. This aligns the incentives of remix artists and the creators of the original content. Sources are transparent and users are responsible for their own access to content, which could include paying for access to some or all of it.

A few simple examples:

  • I am a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and enjoyed the films but did not approve of how far they departed from the books. Many other fans feel the same way and have created “fanedits” of the films that edit out content not included in the books. Since I own the films on DVD and BluRay, all I need is a way for my BluRay player to understand what sections of the film to skip or move.

  • I enjoy the video remixes by Pogo. I should be able to pay Pogo for his remix post and then pay Disney for access to the original content. In this case, since I only want access to a few minutes of audio and video from a film, they could charge me by the minute, second, as I do not need the entire film.

  • Girl Talk and other remix/mashup musical artists create single tracks that are often a combination of dozens of original sources. I should be able to purchase the remix from him (as a Tent post) and then buy the songs (on iTunes, Amazon, or Spotify) that I do not already own.

This is all trivial to accomplish with Tent, someone just needs to write the apps and define post types. Eventually we hope artists, studios, and labels will distribute the content they own through Tent, but in the meantime it should be possible to create workarounds for the digital and hardcopy content that users already own.