Today’s media-oriented society is ubiquitously marked by copyrights. Certain degrees of inalienable rights are granted to all artists to help them protect their work, and consequently, an overstep of these boundaries can be considered a copyright violation on behalf of the consumer. However, contemporary times are also a “bold demonstration of the need to share culture in order to get more out of it”(Aufderheide and Jaszi 18). Products of modern culture are typically influenced by pre-existing works, and in turn, will inspire future creations because all art forms feed off each other in order to thrive. Today, “we expect programs such as GarageBand and Windows MovieMaker to come preinstalled on our new computers, and we turn to Flickr and Facebook for other people’s memories to fill in when ours comes up short,”Aufderheide and Jaszi say, demonstrating the public’s intrinsic inclination to build upon the ideas of others (7). Consumers will often reuse copyrighted work without any second thoughts because of the accessibility of editing software. Because the use and repurposing of different works is such a cultural phenomenon, a set of laws and terms of fair use have been outlined in the best interest of the original creator. “Fair use is in play whenever you have the right to take copyrighted material without getting (or even asking for) permission from copyright holders or their agents,” and transforming it into something with new meaning (Aufderheide and Jaszi 20). “Fair use does not protect the interests of any one individual or group so much as it protects freedom of expression and the capacity of the culture to develop” (Aufderheide and Jaszi 26). There are four topics of consideration when classifying a remix or mashup as either fair or not. Generally, when the social benefit of the new media is greater than then detriment to the content’s original owner, it is considered to be fair.
One example of fairly-used copyrighted content is a mash-up cover music video called, “Call Me Maybe” / “Payphone” MASHUP! (ft. Jessica Jarrell & James Alan). In this video, Jarrell and Alan perform an original collaboration of two pre-existing songs. This video not a tribute-style cover, and it falls under the fair use category because the final result will not deter consumers from purchasing either of the two original songs. Firstly, this video’s character is clearly a positive one, and demonstrates an intent to entertain an audience. It is not a parody of either song, or an attempt to take undue credit. Secondly, the creative nature of this remix video conveys a new message than either of the original songs did, and speaks to the audience in a different style. While it is true that nearly half of the original content from both songs is used within this video, the artists perform them in an orthogonal manner. Finally, the market value of this video is negligible in comparison to the overwhelming success the contents’ original owners, Carly Rae Jepsen and Maroon 5 respectively, receive after releasing the songs.
Aufderheide, Patricia and Jaszi, Peter. Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011. Print.
Alan, James and Jessica Jarrell. ““Call Me Maybe” / “Payphone” MASHUP! (ft. Jessica Jarrell & James Alan)” 9 July 2012.