Course blog for CSP 11 (Fall 2012) @ Occidental College

Author Archives: ellafornari

Today, although the NY Stock Market is closed and completely submerged, it was announced that Disney bought Lucas Films. Lucas will be stepping down as the chief executive and taking a back seat role in the company.  This also gives Disney a kind of monopoly on the fantasy special effects genre. Does this change our opinions on Lucas, who as we know, has so strongly insisted on moral rights for authors? Will Lucas’s materials be distributed differently and infringements more intensely reported? …Any other general opinions on this?

With this, Disney also announced there will be a Star Wars Episode VII in 2015.

 

Full Story from the NY Times:

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/disney-buying-lucas-films-for-4-billion/?ref=business

 


A friend sent this to me recently, I thought it was the perfect combination of the last blog on remix and fair use and the last essay on the Star Wars Holiday Special.  My main motivation for posting is to share such an applicable video merely for enjoyments sake, but if people want, perhaps they can argue fair use of this video in comments.  I think this most apparently falls under fair use because as a parody it completely repurposes the original song with new lyrics.  One could argue though that the format of the video does not fall under fair use, as it implements the exact same artistic vision of the original video.

Enjoy.


Obama ‘sings’ LMFAO’s ‘Sexy and I Know It’ is an example of a remix video that easily falls under fair use.  I believe that by cleverly remixing archived speech video with a pop culture song, this video clearly has entirely different intent than the original materials it uses.

Although the direct rights of LMFAO’s song were not bought for this video, the video credits the song under the video.  The author was also clever in putting the band’s name in the title of the video so that where the song is coming from is not even questionable.  The author also remixed the song to some extent, in order to sync the beat of the song to Obama’s lip movements.

The video content is the most remixed part of the video and is also credited to the white house website under the video.  I found this credit to be particularly interesting because videos of political nature, especially those released on the white house’s government website (whitehouse.gov) are already in the public domain.  It would have been fair use for the creator of this video to pull the clips from whitehouse.gov without directly crediting the site because they are already a part of the public domain.

The one element of this video that takes away from its otherwise well defined claim of being fair use is that the author has intention to profit off the videos.  Under and throughout the video the creator posts links to his “Baracks Dubs” merchandise.  Because Obama is a political figure it does not break copyright to sell a shirt with his face printed on it.  The merchandise though directly relates to the music used in the videos. For example, the creator of the video is selling T-Shirts where Obama has an Afro like one of the members of LMFAO and the text “Sorry for Party Baracking” appears under his image.  The text and design of this shirt rely on content of LMFAO’s song as well as their general identity as a group.

The “Sexy and I Know it” dub is only one in a series the author has produced like it.  Other musical artists the creator has used include Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and Rihanna.  All of these artists are extremely high profile, and therefor are more likely to have their songs used by the general public.  I mean by this that one Youtube video using these artists’ songs without license will not take away from the already extraordinary amount of money these artists have made from their songs.  If anything, having “Sexy and I Know It” synched to President Obama would cause viewers of the video to appreciate the song more.  Because this video has a completely new and different message than the works it’s drawing from, remixes the original works (both the song and the video content), and although profiting, does not effect the market value of LMFAO’s song, this video falls under fair use.

Aufderheide, Patricia and Peter Jaszi. Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright. Chicago: The  University of Chicago Press, 2011. Print.


The HumancentiPad could do everything except read, and I couldn’t help but sympathize with it. The intangibility of online user agreements causes people to be less concerned with the terms they are signing to.  I believe that the virtual reality of the Internet is what separates users from these agreements.  The speed at which the Internet runs also makes the few minutes it takes to read the terms seem like an eternity, especially when the accept button is so textually dominant over the terms.

Designed to be the ultimate personalization of the Internet, Facebook follows what William Patry describes as a pull business.  Facebook is a pull business because, “rather than seeking to constrain the range of resources available to participants, pull models constantly strive to expand it while helping participants, pull models give even people on the periphery tools and resources (including connections to other people) needed to take initiative and to address opportunities creatively as they arise” (Patry 7).  The aim of Facebook, as with most social networking sites, is to connect individuals on it to one another.  Wanting to be part of a greater group fueled by constant communication is what draws people to the site.  Facebook’s business model appears innovative by adapting to each individual consumer’s interests and having multiple means of communication available (wall post, chat, pictures, ect.).  Clicking the terms of agreement when signing up for Facebook is simply the price to pay to ensure you are not left out of the community the site creates.  People would much rather buy into Facebook and be a part of its personalized society than be critical of the various agreements they are signing themselves to by joining.   

In contrast to the more individualized practices of “pull” marketing, “push” marketing establishes a baseline strategy to get general consumers (as opposed to specified marketing to individuals) to buy into their product.  Patry argues that, “due to their push mentality, the copyright industries view the entirety of copyright as unidirectional: the public is a passive participant, whose role is to simply pay copyright owners, or to stop using copyrighted works“ (Patry 8).

 Even as a pull model, the language of Facebook’s “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” is extraordinarily convoluted.  The level of personalization that Facebook creates is a product of the rights they earn for their consumers’ identities through the agreement, so it is no wonder the language used is flexible.  Perhaps the best clause in their terms of agreement is, “we can change this Statement if we provide you notice (by posting the change on the Facebook Site Governance Page) and an opportunity to comment.  To get notice of any future changes to this Statement, visit our Facebook Site Governance Page and “like” the Page” (Sec.14, Pt. 1). If you are only notified of agreement changes if you like and get notifications from a particular page within the site, Facebook’s terms are subject to change without the direct notice of their general users (ie. those who do not read the fine print regularly).  The language used in this part of Facebook’s terms of agreement are analogous to Patry’s understanding of a pull model, as the terms are subject to change as the site changes.  Patry is pretty adamant in claiming that the copyright industry should be transformed into a pull business.  I am tempted to say that I would rather the law be rigid and commonly understood with respect to copyright than be ever changing and only relevant on a case by case basis, as through a pull system.  If the rules of copyright are ever changing to fit the individuals involved, like in the case of Facebook, is it necessarily better for the individual?

The power of Facebook’s agreement policy, like in the case of copyright law in general, comes from the uncertainty it creates.  Even if a Facebook user reads the terms they are inevitably going to agree to, the language the terms are formed on does not aid the consumer in having any idea what they are signing to.  Perhaps the reason we are so trained to not read user agreements is because we are used to the language being so extraordinarily indecisive.  Because we are preconditioned to think the terms will be vague and unhelpful to us, we don’t bother with them unless we absolutely have to, and even then we may just skim. 

 

Patry, William. Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

“Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.” Facebook, 8 June 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2012. <http://www.facebook.com/legal/terms&gt;