Operation Room

What – Remixing Poetry, Remixing Content, Remixing Code

On my PhD thesis i’m working on digital poetry, appropriation and remix of previous texts. I am searching and compiling works that fall under these criteria for further analysis on processes and forms for creating new meanings and new works. But one of my goals is to envision what could be an open and free poetry project or platform based on appropriation and remix. This is a very exciting idea for me – the possibility of collaborating with other people (PhD’s can be eerily lonely) to create digital poetry. At the same time, it is a bit frightening because i need others to want to participate and share the excitement. So i am writing to you hoping you will embark on this idea and practice. Can we build a community for sharing, creating and remixing digital poetry? I believe so. nd we could add the fact that 2019 is the International Year of Cooperation (emoji sorridente!).

How – Open Content, Open License

To accomplish this i propose a framework based on the practices and philosophy of 3 similar movements related to copyright terms and use applied to knowledge, culture and art products and developments: the CC Commons non-profit organization, the Open Source Initiative and the Free Software Foundation. The combination of ideas from these initiatives will structure the proposal of the Open Remixed Digital Poetry Project: sharing our poems and their components (text, image, sound, code), allow others from the community to use our poems and its components to make other poems and/or other types of artistic work, produce new work with previous works shared by others, allow this new work to be repurposed in the same manner. And hopefully, develop an artistic and literary art community built upon the remix philosophy and practice. CC Commons organization provides a range of licenses that offer more permissions than “all rights reserved” in order to share your knowledge and artistic work. One important goal of this organization is to increase the amount of openly licensed creativity in “the commons” – the body of work freely available for legal use, sharing, repurposing, and remixing. The licenses BY (attribution) and BY-SA (attribution share-alike) are especially relevant because the work they license becomes free cultural work – “works or expressions which can be freely studied, applied, copied and/or modified, by anyone, for any purpose” (https://freedomdefined.org/Definition). The following icon means that a license is “approved for free cultural works” under this definition:

By adopting these licenses in this project we are also taking part in an alternative vision to copyright and intellectual and artistic property. One that acknowledges a continuum in human knowledge and creation where one person reflects and builds upon an ecosystem (social, political, artistic, ethical: texts, images, ideas: past and present) to create new work. Consequently, this vision also entails the notion of a derivative, citational authorship that, more or less consciously, more or less deliberately, is characterized by repurposing, reusing and mixing previous ideas, images, findings, or parts of them. Following this, the CC Commons Project is created, ultimately, due to the necessity of having an operative concept (licenses with different features) of authorship that doesn’t curtail future work and human creativity. This is one contribution to the underlying vision of this digital poetry Project.

From the Open Source Initiative we will need, firstly, to engage with and adapt the definition of open source. This definition refers, primarily, to software: to be considered open source it has to be freely used, modified and shared. This allows the creation and continuity of a community based on collaboration and non-proprietary, collective authorship. A piece of software is developed and perfected through multiple inputs by different people. To make this feasible one important requirement must be met: the software we share under OS license must be followed by its source code files; in fact, the open source license is applied to the source code itself. Access to this code is essential for someone to produce changes in the resulting piece of software. We must provide the material content that will enable change and transformation to become effective – editing, adding, removing, replacing, mixing, etc. When talking about software this means providing the source code. What about digital poetry and literary art? How can we transfer this practice to a group or community using remix of existing and shared material to make digital poetry? To answer this question we should focus on the content we will be working with: images, sound, video, software programs. The basic principle to follow is to share the most editable files we have saved in our computer. Files that can be easily and deeply modified. Here are some examples:

– if we are going to share a digital poem that contains text, image and sound we should make available the file with the poem itself, the text file (in rtf., etc.), the images and sound parts in a Project mode file (the format extension depends on the used software but, as an example, if we created an image in Photoshop we should share a .psd format file);

– if we are sharing video files we should provide the Project file or the different parts we recorded in separate files;

– if we wrote a digital poem in a computer programming language we should provide all the files needed for the program to run (media files such as imagens, sounds and text) and the source code file.

Embracing these practical requirements also means that this Project shares the OSI broad idea of a community that collaborates over non-proprietary work. This is a common thread for the Free Software Movement and for Copyleft. The first has a strong ideological stand concerning the control we have over software we use every day. To the FSM using proprietary software enables companies and governments to monitor and restrict the use we make and, eventually, to exercise power and control. The development and use of free, non-proprietary software is what the FSM tries to foster. Shifting this to cultural and artistic contexts, we should prefer the creation and fruition of free cultural works, not controlled by means of copyright and monetary value. As one could say, both initiatives are driven by a very similar vision of how society should function when it comes to knowledge, cultural and artistic development – the importance of cooperation, the need to limit proprietary control and commodification of human work. Due to this overlapping between the two, OSI members remind us that some people also prefer to use the term “free and open source software” (or FOSS, FLOSS [free, libre and open source software]) for this reason.

Copyleft, as most of us know already, is a play on copyright that can work as a license enabling the right to freely distribute and modify original works. But the word itself also embodies the political stance towards authorship – it stands symmetric and inverted to ownership rights. It’s not a matter of establishing the non-existence of these rights. It is the expression of the almost exact opposite rights – the right to be copied, the right to be distributed by anyone, the right to be used. Copyleft licence is similar to the “Share Alike” stipulation of the Creative Commons licenses. The GNU General Public License, originally written by Richard Stallman, is a prominent software copyleft license. Most copyleft licenses are Open Source, but not all Open Source licenses are copyleft. When an Open Source license is not copyleft that means software released under that license can be used as part of programs distributed under other licenses, including proprietary (non-open-source) licenses.

Again, this project will be about free and open digital poetry – a combination of open source software principles and free cultural Works definition – like FOSS (Free and open source software). And it will have the following license applied to the work we share and create:

CC BY or CC BY-SA (share alike)

According to the CC Commons organization, material licensed under CC BY or BY-SA is a free cultural work. “Cultural works” is simply the term chosen by Freedom Defined to distinguish non-software works that should be under a free content license rather than a free software license. CC’s other licenses– BY-NC, BY-ND, BY-NC-SA, and BY-NC-ND– only allow more limited uses, and material under these licenses is not considered a free cultural work.

Why not the CC0 license?

The CC0 license places works in the public domain and its authors under the regime of “no rights reserved”. It is similar to the CC BY-SA license because it allows others to freely build upon and reuse the works for any purpose. But it lacks the SA (share alike) feature fundamental to an ecosystem based on the appropriation and repurposing of previous work. The SA feature ensures that the resulting work can also be remixed contributing thus to a growing circulation of reusable material we can use, distribute and make changes.

Why not the copyleft license?

Though copyleft serves both of this project’s main purposes – share existing work to be remixed and produce new work that can also be reused – the CC BY-SA license is more explicit in the definition of its terms and, at least as a starting point it can contribute to the clarity of our participation.

This is the full description of CC BY-SA license:

Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

You are free to:

  • Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
  • The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

Under the following terms:

  • Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
  • ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.
  • No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.


  • You do not have to comply with the license for elements of the material in the public domain or where your use is permitted by an applicable exception or limitation.
  • No warranties are given. The license may not give you all of the permissions necessary for your intended use. For example, other rights such as publicity, privacy, or moral rights may limit how you use the material.

How to – Share, Appropriate, Share Again

The Trello group

To put us in touch and exchanging materials, i created a Board on Trello app. This Trello board will be used to share our literary and artistic material (text, image, sound, programming code of digital pieces) for other members of the group to appropriate, reuse, combine and remix in order to create new works. This trello board will be used to share and follow the new literary and artistic works created along the way. A wordpress blog will also be updated by me to exhibit the work. A wordpress blog will also be updated by me to exhibit the work.

Using Trello to collaborate

– Register on Trello

– Check the Board here: https://trello.com/b/urllx8xi

– Join in with this invite link: https://trello.com/invite/b/urllx8xi/d8ea42f5ec214188cc3f21382537f2f2/operation-roomdigital-poetry

– Write a brief presentation of yourself and express your licensing of what you share and create with the CC BY-SA license

– Share your work uploading it directly to Trello or sharing with GoogleDrive or Dropbox links to your files

– Create new work using what others have shared

– Share the new work with us

– Email me whenever you need to vasqueslf@gmail.com