Stefán Karl Stefánsson and his contribution to the remix culture

I am writing this just moment after learning of Stefán’s passing from years of fighting cancer, so emotions may be at play here. I apologize if that becomes too apparent in this article.

As you may know from previous articles, I am an avid fan of remix culture and has extensive knowledge of international copyright law as it is applied to the Internet. So was Stefán.

When he was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma in 2016, a GoFundMe campaign was set up by LazyTown lead writer Mark Valenti and to promote it, several youtubers made parodies of the songs “We Are Number One” and “The Mine Song”. These quickly became popular beyond the campaign as several others uploaded their own parodies without links or affiliations, many without even knowing about Stefán’s diagnosis. A meme was born.

The rights owners wanted to go on a copyright strike rampage at first, but Mark and Stefán convinced them to let it go. For the next 2 years, Stefán would tour the world, making interviews and campaigning for the remix cultures, intermixing chemotherapy and surgery with convention appearances. He convinced the producers to release the studio files for “We Are Number One” and issue a challenge to the world for who could make the best version of the song. He personally responded when there was a mixup with a rights management group that automatically flagged the song for copyright infringement.

Up until a few months ago, he gave his life to his fans and to the remix culture. And the world is better for it.

Stefán will forever be our Number One!

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