The Copycats Issue


Cover photo by Catherine Hyland

In an apartment studio in Belen, a producer mixes technobrega tracks from pop songs. On esoteric websites, gongkai manufacturers swap files for low-cost devices. These makers know copying advances their work, and they do it openly. Incorporating sources of inspiration is important for any creative work, yet we tend to clutch onto our ideas as intellectual property. When shared and incorporated with care, our ideas can impact the world in ways we never anticipated. A vendor in Mexico City sells rare, pirated art-house films. And movie pirates in Lagos have become unlikely distribution partners for filmmakers in a synergistic, though not necessarily balanced, relationship. Not everyone benefits when we copy overtly, but given advancements in duplicative technologies like 3D printing, few are safe from remix culture, and those learn to who work with it will survive the digital shake-up.

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