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

Author Archives: captainmicrowave

The main goal of our remix video was to express our beliefs that music piracy is an ongoing problem because of the greed that is present in the music industry. We used clips of mainly protaganists from different movies and videos to help portray the average consumer, and the antagonist of the clip is used to represent the music industry and the greedy artist.  

Our main argument is that the music industry is overzealous in their stoping of piracy. Compared to all the money musicians have these days, music piracy really isn’t that big of a deal. Money should not be such a big influence on music, what should matter is not the money, but the message. We believe that art should be for art’s sake, not for the profit of the industry. Measures taken to stop piracy are harmful both to the consumer and to the true spirit of music. Our main arguments are that musicians are already quite rich, that money should not be driving music, that anti-piracy measures go too far, and that no matter what they do people are going to pirate music anyways.  

The video begins with Batman’s Joker stating, “All you care about is money.” This is the general message that we are presenting throughout the video. The background song we chose was Chumbawamba’s “Pass it Along mp3 mix”, which is a remix in itself of several songs by artists who have been strong advocates of punishment for music piracy, such as Metallica. An echoing voice in the song adds throughout the song “spectators, but not participants”. This is representative of the consumer’s role in the war on piracy, or in other words, lack of role. People have a general lack of concern with illegal downloading, and since this technology exists, it will never go away. “People are going to do what they want to do,” is another theme that resonates throughout the video. The consumer cannot be stopped.

 

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Our video, The Reagans Speak Out On Drugs, uses clips of Ronald and Nancy Reagan discussing the War on drugs, with only slight edits to make them instead supporting drug use.

This video is making the argument by use of satire that the War on Drugs is futile and lacks seriousness in general. The idea that the president and his first lady are preaching the importance of drug use rather than the importance of abstinence from drug use is so absurd that it provides comic relief on a topic often looked at with an incredibly serious approach. The chopping of clips from the original video helps to give this parody an authentic aura about it, the edits are seamless and the only way the audience knows that the video isn’t real comes from prior historical knowledge. This video is also making the argument that a pro-drug speech would have the same effectiveness, in essence none, as the original that discourages it.

The Reagans Speak Out On Drugs constructs an effective argument by utilizing humor and hyperbole. The humor of watching the Reagans very earnestly expressing their support of drug use helps make this video an effective satire. But beyond the humor, the video has a more important message: that the real joke is the war on drugs. Instead of simply having the Reagans criticize the war on drugs, however, the video has the couple go as far to argue in support of drug use and abuse. The use of hyperbole helps drive the point in, making it impossible to miss the video’s message. By having the Reagans argue a ridiculously exaggerated argument pokes fun at the original video, and the humor of it all makes the couple look silly, calling to attention the absurdity of the original broadcast.

This work is transformative since it makes a completely opposite argument than the original does. Although it contains a large amount of the original video without interruption, the changes that are made are important enough to completely change the context of the video. Instead of being advocates against drugs, Ronald and Nancy Reagan are transformed into advocates of “smokable cocaine”. The clips are not transformed much, but the purpose is completely flipped. This means that in spite of a very small amount of edits, the video is completely transformative.

The main two things we could take away from this video were the uses of humor and hyperbole. Humor helps keep the audience’s attention, and keeps the argument from being dull and dry. Hyperbole drives the point home, making it impossible to overlook the purpose of the video. The combination of the two is the perfect recipe for satire. This video also shows how much you can achieve with only a few changes, and how it’s really all about making the right edits, quality over quantity. The only flaw with this video is at times the humor can be distracting, its easy to laugh at Nancy Reagan expressing her solemn support for crack cocaine, forgetting that the purpose of the video is the futility of the war on drugs. 

The Reagans Speak Out On Drugs Dir. Cliff Roth. YouTube. YouTube, 1988. Web. 21 Oct 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1tC9Xu1yKo&feature=youtu.be&gt;


He-Man is the cornerstone of many boy’s childhoods, and it is his unique mix of masculinity and homoeroticism that makes this video work so well. The video in question, clips of He-Man, synced up perfectly with a dance remix of 4 Non Blonde’s hit “What’s Up”, is one of the most popular videos on the internet. Many versions as well as remixes appear on YouTube, the most popular being simply titled “HEYYEYAAEYAAAEYAEYAA” with 23 million views. After doing some digging, I found that the original was actually posted via Vimeo to the website Slackcircus with the title “Fabulous Secret Powers”, featuring an intro and outro most YouTube videos cut out. 

While the original video itself doesn’t give us too many clues regarding its fair use status, but one of the more popular youtube versions includes this in its description:

“Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.” -Aufderheide and Jaszi (24)

 

This addresses the first issue of fair use according to Aufderheide and Jaszi: “Was the use of copyrighted material for a different purpose, rather than just reuse for the original purpose and for the same audience?” In this case, it is not, as it is made for non profit reasons. An interesting note about Fabulous Secret Powers: the song used is not the original 4 Non Blondes song or even just a remix, but a full on cover. Normally this would be a big issue; cover songs require the cover artist to pay the original artist royalties, but I doubt that anyone would listen to this song as an alternative to the original, if anything, it would draw attention to a hit song that has since been mostly forgotten (I personally bought the 4 Non Blondes song after being reminded of it by this video). While the music could potentially be a fair use issue, in this case the bigger issue is the video. While they are somewhat altered, this video uses long clips of the show He-Man: Masters of the Universe. The use of the show would result in a “no” to the second two questions of “Was the amount of material taken appropriate to the purpose of the use?” and “Was it reasonable within the field or discipline it was made in?” The rampant use of copyrighted clips would almost undoubtably result in this clip being ruled outside of fair use.

Fabulous Secret Powers also illustrates an interesting factor of Fair Use in the internet age: even if the bigger videos were taken down, this remix is so popular that it would just keep popping up. Like a Hydra, no matter how many heads are cut off, two more will just grow back in its place, and Fabulous Secret Powers will live on.

 

Works Cited:

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

“Fabulous Secret Powers”.Slackcircus.com,2005,Web.<http://www.slackcircus.com/all-projects/2010/1/6/fabulous-secret-powers.html&gt;

“What’s Up (Hey, What’s Going On) [Best Version (mp3)] He-man AMV LMAO!!! (Mp3 link)!”By YetiFace55. Youtube, 08 Mar 2011. Web. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itvJybdcYbI&gt;

 

 

 


If you asked any random person on the street what they thought the purpose of copyright is, they’d probably assert that copyright is designed to protect the rights of artists. William Patry, author of Moral Panics and Copyright Wars, disagrees. Patry believes that copyright is a tool used by so called “copyright industries” to wage war against their consumers. Patry argues that the modern use of copyright is a symptom of “push marketing”: “With push marketing, businesses create products or services based on what they want to sell to consumers and not based on what consumers want to buy” (5). This kind of push marketing is very apparent in the modern music industry, which constantly resists changes in music mediums. “This is what occurred with the record industry’s refusal to move to MP3 single-song sales, long after it was apparent to rational observers that the CD market was exhausted” (4). Push marketing as Patry describes it is detrimental to progress and resists free market ideals, in particular the invisible hand. Patry argues that the industry needs to move to a pull market, in which consumers and “collaboration, not control” drive the marketing of copyrighted works (7).

Since Patry’s argument is based primarily in the domain of economics, one would assume that a company such as Facebook that provides a service free of charge would have little use for the waging of copyright wars. But while Facebook generally does not revolve around the creation and sharing of creative works, it’s easy to forget that photos and videos uploaded can be considered “intellectual property”. Facebook has a somewhat disturbing approach to intellectual property, as stated in their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities: “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.” Facebook essentially has the right to use your photos and videos for whatever nefarious purposes they can think of. This becomes even more frightening when it becomes clear how little privacy really exists on Facebook: “When you use an application, the application may ask for your permission to access your content and information as well as content and information that others have shared with you.  We require applications to respect your privacy, and your agreement with that application will control how the application can use, store, and transfer that content and information. ” While users do have the right to resist this intrusion, I doubt that many users consider the possible repercussions of playing “FarmVille”. As Kyle Brovlofski so tactuflly stated in the South Park episode “Human CentiPad”, “Who the hell reads that entire thing every time it pops up?”

It would appear that Facebook is engaging in (or at least has the ability to engage in) borderline Orwellian surveillance of its users that one might think is illegal. But in actuality, Facebook is well within its rights when it does whatever it does with your intellectual property, because the user clicked “agree” when signing up with Facebook. Facebook can also change this contract whenever it chooses: “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,” and the only way to recieve notice is to make the effort to like a Facebook page which, up until now, I didn’t even know existed. The little power that Facebook gives to its users “If more than 7,000 users post a substantive comment on a particular proposed change, we will also give you the opportunity to participate in a vote in which you will be provided alternatives. The vote shall be binding on us if more than 30% of all active registered users as of the date of the notice vote,” does not bring it anywhere close to the ideal “Pull Marketing” tactics described by Patry. The South Park episode “Human Cent-i-Pad” wasn’t too far off, if the Facebook terms of services said that they could sew my mouth to another human’s anus, it’s highly unlikely that I would know about it, and even less likely that I would be able to do anything about it.

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

“Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.” Facebook, 8 June 2012. Web. 08 Sept. 2012. 

Parker, Trey. “Humancentipad.” South Park. N.d. South Park Studios. South Park Studios. Web. 8 Sept. 2012.