Re•mix n. (rē-mĭks') a new version of a song, book, picture, video (you name it) made by adding to, or otherwise changing the original version


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Free to mix: An educator’s guide to reusing digital content has been developed by Digital New Zealand with the support of Services to Schools, National Library of New Zealand.

More information about Digital New Zealand can be found at

More information about Services to Schools and libraries supporting literacy and learning can be found at

Resources and online help and advice can be found at and

This document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand License. In essence, you are free to copy, distribute and adapt the work, as long as you attribute the work to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, when required, and abide by the other licence terms.

This is a living document, it will be updated with new content over time. To access the latest content you can visit and you will find this guide in the 21st Century Literacy & Inquiry section. Or visit .

Revision version 19.01.12


Introduction 4

Understanding remix 5

Remixing with respect 9

Understanding copyright 13

Finding great content for reuse 16

Becoming part of the creative remix community 21

Digital storytelling 24

Photo remix 29


re•mix n. (rē-mĭks')

A new version of a song, book, picture, video (you name it) made by adding to, or otherwise changing the original version (license permitting).

This guide has been written to support educators to easily find and use excellent reusable content for creative activities.

The guide gives you information, activities and ideas to confidently create a remix from material you know you have the rights to reuse. It shows students why copyright and licensing exist, how they work, and how they can apply licences to their own work through simple information, suggestions for activities, and links to more resources. By using it, you and your students will be able to participate in the global remix community while demonstrating creativity and integrity.

After using this guide, it is intended that:

  • Educators understand the variety of usage rights applicable to digital content

  • Educators have ideas for teaching their students about usage rights

  • Educators and students have the skills and confidence to find material that is suitable for reuse

  • Educators and students create amazing, inspiring, creative new works to share with others

This guide was originally created to support the Mix and Mash competition, held in 2010 and 2011, and you will find amazing, inspirational ideas in the various categories and from the prize-winners on the website

If you would like to see something added to this guide, or to get more support, sign up for the online community at

Understanding remix

Key points

  • Remix can refer to any sampling and overlaying of print, music, video and images

  • Collage, photomontage and documentaries are early forms of remix

  • Creating, quoting and referencing for multiple media content are similar to printed content. Both involve convention and law

What is remix?

The term ‘remix’ was made popular by the music industry, to describe audio mixing of music samples to make an alternative version of a song. Early music remixes from the 1980s were often longer versions of singles for playing in nightclubs. As technology improved, music studios began using short clips or samples of existing music to create entirely new songs. As sampling became more common, copyright infringement claims started to be made by the original creators of the sampled music.

Today a lot of sampling happens when people at home put sound tracks on the digital video and photos they share with friends and family. The term ‘remix’ now can refer to any sampling or overlaying of text, music, video and images.

Early forms of remix

Remix can be directly traced back to collaging. Collage has been used since the 19th century for creating memorabilia scrapbooks. In the 20th century photomontage was used for creating a variety of new works such as postcard designs, advertisements and magazine layouts. This is the origin of the ‘cut and paste’ metaphor on computers.

Documentary audio, film and video-making frequently involve remixing. Creators mix clips of interviews, archival sound recordings, film footage and photographs with music and narrative to tell their story. Documentaries have been used for news and current event reporting and historical or investigative journalism since the early 20th century.

Remix as a form of literacy

Modern culture rests on an assumption that all members of society are at minimum provided with the opportunity to learn to read and write. These are the traditional literacy skills needed to participate in and create culture in a recorded or documented form. The ability to create new texts through quoting and referencing printed texts is familiar and essential to learning and participation in cultural life.

A 1904 montage of lighthouses and boats by Henry Winkelmann. Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1167

In the 19th and 20th centuries, new literacy skills were required to make use of emerging technologies like recorded music, photography, film and video. Mostly these skills were only needed by professionals or people with budgets large enough to afford the necessary equipment. Everyone else only had to learn how to consume or ‘read’ these new multi-media creations.

This changed in the 21st century, when access to cheap and powerful personal computers and the internet became widespread. Now almost anyone can make new works using digital copies of photographs, video and music. We need a new kind of media literacy so we can successfully create, quote and reference digital content.

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