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

Author Archives: chandlermuriel

Our main argument in creating this video is that copyright law prevents the full creative potential of authors, and the digital age allows for these consumers-turned-authors to fight back. Many of the scenes in our video reflect the nature of the Panopticon, in which there is a constant sense of being watched from all angles. Because the copyright law is so strict, and simultaneously vague, people often do not feel comfortable creating his or her own work in fear that it will not fall under fair use and will subsequently lead to a lawsuit. This fear is heightened by the fact that people feel they are under constant surveillance of the media industries, which is exemplified by how often YouTube videos are removed or flagged for infringement.

To illustrate this argument, we began our video with various clips of people creating their own works, whether it music or written material. The first half of the video is filtered in black and white to represent how outdated the media industries’ ideas of copyright is. The second half of the video shows an appearance of color in the clips, which juxtaposes the idea of the first half of the video with the idea that modern digital culture allows for authors to feel a greater confidence in creating their own work. After the first set of clips, we used scenes where the villains are surrounding the protagonist(s). The notion of being surrounded from all sides reflects the idea of the Panopticon, where one never knows whether he or she is being watched or not, but there is always a sense of panic and fear. This set of clips leads into the colored portion, where we turned to scenes of the protagonist(s) fighting back. The last set of clips presents the villains falling to their demises, showing the inevitable fall of the copyright industries and their idea of copyright law, so long as people continue to create work.

The last element of our video is the music. We used the song “United States of Eurasia (+Collateral Damage),” by Muse, which in its original form is directly inspired by the book 1984 by George Orwell. We chose this song because of its lyrics, which discuss so-called “wars [that] can’t be won,” and the desire to rebel against a higher power.

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In the film The Pleasures of Uninhibited Excess, Mark Pauline discusses his form of artwork in which machines are built for the purpose of instilling fear in people. The machines are displayed in a show of epic proportions: destructive, noisy, and dangerous. Pauline’s show of robotics puts people inside of the show, as he has the audience watch from platforms that lower down and lunge forward. In doing so, the perspective of the audience changes and therefore their experience changes. This notion of transforming the perspective relates to the transformative nature of remix work. Remix is defined by its shift in meanings. Just as clips from a television show can be transformed to fit the style of a movie trailer, this physical art of machinery is just as transformative. At first glance the work is very objective, but as the audience is forced to view it from different angles, the work becomes subjective by altering their experience.


HCP Productions created a parody of the television show Community by overlapping a multitude of short clips from the show with the audio from the The Dark Knight Rises movie trailer. The clips are put together and synced with the audio in such a way that the video resembles a dramatic movie trailer. By utilizing these clips to serve a purpose other than that of the show itself, I believe that making this remix video easily falls under fair use.

The editor of this specific video by HCP Productions, Michael Robert Yanoska, stated in the description beneath the video that “all rights [go] to Universal, Sony, and Warner Bros. for video and audio,” and even went as far as to make clear that the video is “fair use as a parody,” (Yanoska). By doing this, Yanoska is going to unnecessary measures to protect his video because, as a parody that is unrelated to the intent of the creators of Community or the producers of The Dark Knight Rises, his video was made under fair use. However, in doing so he is clearly addressing the topic of fair use and making it known that he is aware of the issue at hand.

The audio from the trailer of The Dark Knight Rises is used under fair use. Although he took the entire audio clip from the trailer, rather than small sections of it, his intent was not to “give viewers a substitute experience for the [trailer],” (Aufderheide and Jaszi 137). His intent was wholly transformative, as the parody trailer is showing Greendale Community College as the setting and the characters of Community as the subjects, rather than Gotham City and Batman. The plot itself is transformative as well, as the parody focuses on the Community plot line of Señor Chang taking control of the college.

The use of the the audio from the movie trailer in this parody is also targeting a completely different audience than that of the Batman movies. By making this video, no harm is being done to the reputation of The Dark Knight Rises or to Christopher Nolan, who as seen as the general creator of the films. The franchise does not lose money due to the creation of this parody video, and neither is the movie being seen in a negative light.

No video clip from Community that is featured in this video is more than three seconds long. By keeping the clips short, the viewer is not capable of determining the original context that each clip was in and therefore the clip loses its original meaning and is completely transformative. Since the “guide to fair use is in the concept of transformativeness,” (Aufderheide and Jaszi 136) Yanoska did not necessarily have to cite the sources for the clips in the description. As previously stated, he went above and beyond to prove that his video was made in fair use. Also, although within the parody of the movie trailer itself, Yanoska cites Dan Harmon as being the brain behind the clips being used. It is also a fact that Community not only references Batman on multiple occasions in their show and dedicates an entire episode to the character of Abed Nadir becoming the superhero, but that Dan Harmon, along with the other writers and producers of the comedy, are incredibly connected to their fan base and typically support work that is derivative of the show. Therefore, on top of the parody being fair legally, Yanoska could feel morally at ease with creating this video.

Works Cited:

Yanoska, Michael Robert. “Community Season 4/The Dark Knight Rises – Trailer Parody.” Youtube. Youtube, 29 May 2012. Web. 28 Sept. 2012.

Aufderheide, Patricia, and Peter Jaszi. Reclaiming Fair Use. London: The University of Chicago Press, 2011. Print.


Just as the HumancentiPad was incapable of acknowledging what it was reading, so are the media industries incapable of reading into the modernization of copyright laws and the ways in which consumers obtain what they need. While these industries assume that acts of piracy are what is ruining their almighty regime of media, the reality is that their denial of, and inability to adapt to, new technologies are what is hurting them.

The record industry, for example, is constantly hesitating to accept the Digital Age of music and respect the consumers’ desire to make music more accessible online. They claim that such progression leads to more piracy and, subsequently, less sales. Artists such as David Byrne and Bono have discredited this claim, saying “Major labels aren’t doing well because they put out terrible records for years and years and kept raising the price of those terrible records and finally people were like, “Screw you.”” (Patry 18).  What the record industries have difficulty understanding is the logic behind such acts of piracy. The majority of the people who are illegally downloading music are still doing so in the best interest of the artist. While this “best interest” may not be the same “best interest” that the industries are familiar with, it is an interest that benefits the artist in the long run. If someone decides to illegally download one song by an artist, he may be doing this for one of many reasons. He may be waiting until he has enough money to buy the entire album legally. Moreover, he might be unsure about said artist, but once this single song grows on him, he will purchase the album and even attend a concert or two, as well as buy merchandise sold by the artist.

This lack of trust that the media industries have in their consumers is verging on irrational, considering the amount of trust that consumers have in the industries. The HumancentiPad episode of South Park provides a well thought-out analysis of the relationship between consumer and industry. Kyle Broflovski, the protagonist of the episode, is taken hostage by Apple because he fails to read the Terms and Conditions (“HUMANCENTiPAD”).  His struggles throughout the episode are relatable to almost every person in the audience. Consumers encounter Terms and Services, Terms and Conditions, and the like, every time they decide to download a program for their computer, a song from iTunes, or register for a social networking website. The percentage of people who instinctively hit the ‘Accept’ button is incredibly high. What does this represent? It represents a trust that the consumers have in the companies they are downloading from/registering for/etc. Just as Kyle did not expect Apple to betray him, the typical consumer of digital products expects the terms and conditions to lay out what he already knows. There is no fear that Apple, Netflix, Facebook, or Twitter will terminate an account for no reason or revoke any sort of rights. However, if one were to closely examine the “Use of Information Submitted” section of Netflix’s Terms of Use, he/she would discover that in “submitting Feedback to [them], or in responding to questionnaires, [he/she grants Netflix] a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free irrevocable license” that allows Netflix to reproduce his/her opinions and comments in any media form (“Terms of Use”).  While a person cannot copyright his/her own comments on a website as easily as an author can copyright a book, the comments made are solely that individual’s and Netflix’s reproduction of them should be looked upon as taking someone else’s creative property and using it as their own.

William Patry believes that copyright laws need to be reformed in a way that promotes creativity, and to do this we need effective laws (Patry 38).  Progress cannot be made while copyright acts as a utilitarian system of government. Copyright must be regulated, but not so much that it halts man’s creativity. After reading but one Terms of Use, I am more aware of the kinds of things the companies I put my trust into can do to me, and my incentive to speak my mind in an open forum has lowered. If my mundane comments on a movie-watching website are free for use, who knows what else I have freely given to the world?

 Works Cited

“HUMANCENTiPAD.” South Park. Dir. Trey Parker. Comedy Central. 27 April 2011. Television. 9 September 2012.

 

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

 

“Terms of Use.” Netflix. 7 March 2012. Web. 9 September 2012. <https://account.netflix.com/TermsOfUse&gt;