Digital Citizenship: Rights, Remixes, and Respect

EXPLAIN to students that there is a debate in the music industry today about sampling and remixing. Some people think it is fair use, while others believe it violates copyright law. People in the music industry have various perspectives on this issue.

HAVE students to prepare for a paper on whether remixing and sampling music is legal and ethical. Have them begin by discussing the questions and deciding what position they will take. Then they should write down the main points they want to make to defend their position, and draft an introduction.

INVITE students to read their papers to the class. Instruct groups to listen to the other groups’ opening papers, take notes, and be prepared to ask questions.

ASK: What did you learn about the different perspectives people in the music industry have on copyright and fair use?
Guide students to consider whether rap or pop music more readily lends itself to sampling than rock or country, for example.

ASK: How do these issues affect society? Why is it important to have legal and ethical rules for using other people’s creative work? What might happen if there were no rules?
Guide students to see that musicians might gain exposure if others remix their work. On the other hand, they might feel like remixing dilutes their music, or that others are unfairly making money off of their work.

ASK: What do musicians gain and lose by having their work sampled or remixed? How does it affect their fans?

Guide students to think about how original thought should be valued in and of itself, and also about how copyright helps artists get money for their work. Rules and laws about piracy reinforce these ideas and practices.

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