QCQ 7 – Ferguson

QCQ for Everything is a Remix

by Kirby Ferguson


“Without the films that preceded it, there could be no Star Wars. Creation requires influence. Everything we make is a remix of existing creations, our lives, and the lives of others. As Isaac Newton once said, we stand ‘on the shoulders of giants,’ which is what he was doing when he adapted that saying from Bernard of Chartres” (11:51–12:12).

Start at 11:51 – End at 12:12


This quote stood out to me because I think it highlights everything that’s wrong with our current copyright laws. As Ferguson put it, “creation requires influence.” Our movie industry would most likely tank if it didn’t build off of the ideas of other movies because we would eventually run out of entirely new ideas. Sampling in music allows artists to take what has already been done and add their own unique form of creativity to create something new that matches their style. Beyond even the media, our education system wouldn’t ever advance. We wouldn’t be able to advance each others’ ideas through discussion and building scientific theories into empirically proven hypotheses that other scientists can then build their ideas off of. We would have failed a long time ago if humanity ended their efforts at the original creation without allowing these ideas to influence and promote further creativity, to advance it. 

Type Google Scholar into your search bar, like you’re going to look up some scientific articles. I do this every day, whether for class or for work. Now look below the bar, in green writing. It should say, “Stand on the shoulders of giants,” Newton’s quote (which he built off of Bernard of Chartres’s original quote). I never actually knew who said this, and I kind of look at it confused every day. But now I understand – Basic research promotes applied research, which promotes more basic research and more applied research. This is how we expand our knowledge, through the influence of others. This is very intentionally done in the scientific field in an efficient way because we always want to know more so we can add to the body of knowledge that future generations can build off of. Why is the internet any different, and why do our laws inhibit similar growth?

Picture this. A young kid is inspired by an idea a Youtuber does in their video, so he copies, transforms, and combines it to make it something his own… but his video is taken down. Imagine he eventually makes it as a Youtuber, and one day he decides to use a clip of a song in his video and gives credit. His video is taken down again. How are we supposed to create when the laws prohibit us from deriving inspiration from influence?


How could our copyright laws for social media improve to promote the influence of prior creations on future creativity without losing credit to the person who originally had the idea? How valuable or ideas that they should be so diligently guarded?