Subversive drinking: Remixing copyright with free beer

Seth M. Walker


For over the past decade, the Free Beer movement has provided producers, consumers, and hobbyists in the craft beer industry with a way to uniquely engage issues related to innovation and creativity: an "open source" beer that is encouraged to be uniquely transformed in the production of each subsequent batch. While contemporary conversations regarding copyright law and the legal protection of one’s work increasingly take place in digital contexts, Free Beer allows these conversations to (re)emerge outside of these settings, in an analog format, and inform those who are not engaged in the production of software or other digital media of the broader ramifications associated with excessive restriction and control. This paper examines how Free Beer functions as a critique of both copyright law and the suppression of creativity and innovation, and as a demonstration of alternative models of information protection and exchange.


Activism; Collaborative brewing; Creative Commons; Culture jamming; Deep remixability; Détournement; Free software; Intellectual Property; Open source; Semiotic disobedience

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