Thursday 20 January 2011

WEB207 - Topic 2.1 - Remixes & Mashups (& Copyright)

In order to get started thinking through this area, when reading, please consider:

1. Lessig argues that video, audio and other forms of media should be remixable in the same way that textual sources can be cut-up, such as citations in an essay. Should different media forms have different copyright restrictions; does taking a 10-second ‘quote’ from a feature film in a remix video equate with quoting 50 words form a published book in an essay or a published article in a journal?
2. If some remixes and mashups should be legal, even using copyrighted works, can we define what’s ‘remix’ and what’s just copying? Does remix involve fundamental changes in form, in length, in meaning or something else? If you had to offer a legal boundary between a legitimate remix, and an authorised copy, could you?
3. Should the intention of a remixed work matter? For example, in the US, ‘fair use’ means that political expression is largely protected, even using material under full copyright. So, for example, the ‘prezvids’ Tryon discusses are ‘legal’ as long as their intent (as political expression) is obvious. Australia, however, doesn’t recognise the same right of political expression.  Do you think intention matters (and if so, how do you ‘prove’ the intent of a piece of media)?

1. I tend to agree with Lessig - copyright does have a purpose, in ensuring that people do not copy another person's work in it's entirety and reissue it as their own.  But culture grows and is enhanced by basing new ideas on previous ideas, and currently the pendulum between fair use and copyright is swinging very firmly in the direction of copyright - and by extension, the bottom line of commercial entities..  In MED104 I read this article by Steve Collins, who refers to the story of a woman who uploaded a video of her baby son dancing in the kitchen, and she was issued with a takedown notice because of music playing in the background!  Completely ridiculous.  At the end of the day I think the defining factor is commercial consumption.  If you copy somebody elses work and subsequently profit from it then you should be subject to copyright assessment.

2. I think it's very difficult to offer a legal boundary between "remix" and "copying".  Again, I would probably go with the "commercial consumption" assessment.

3. Australia may not recognise political expression but they do recognise "parody or satire" under Fair Dealing provisions.  I suppose if somebody was copying a segment of my work and using it for some kind of racist or hate message then I would want to have a way of objecting.



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