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

Author Archives: copywriter170

Actor Charlie Sheen gained significant publicity during his notoriously strange interviews which preceded several run-ins with the law and the fall of the TV show he starred on, “Two and a Half Men.” Excerpts and full-versions of Sheen’s interviews became readily available on the internet and went viral. Amidst the Charlie Sheen mania, YouTube user “schmoyo” remixed video clips of said interviews and appearances and “songified” the content to create the video “Songify This: Winning – a Song by Charlie Sheen” which itself went viral with currently 45,376,081 views on YouTube. After perusing at profile page for “schmoyo,” I learned that the videos are created by the group “The Gregory Brothers” which has gained popularly for creative remixing of regular video into song.  The video remix of Charlie Sheen is clearly a hit, but is it under fair use doctrine in copyright law?

Fair use is a case-by-case decision and the four factors considered in a fair use case are as follows:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Three questions considered when determining fair use in court are, according to Aufderheide and Jaszi:

  • Was the use of the copyrighted material for a different purpose, rather than just reuse for the original purpose and for the same audience? (If so, it probably adds something new to the cultural pool.)
  • Was the amount of material taken appropriate to the purpose of the use? (Can the purpose be clearly articulated? Was the amount taken proportional? Or was it too much?
  • Was it reasonable within the field or discipline it was made in?

Let’s consider the following video:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

  • The purpose and character of the use of the video clips is for entertainment purposes – not commercial use.

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

  • The nature of the work is transformative. The remix took clips from several different original video interviews and mashed audio together to create a “song.” The copyrighted work went from being a recording of an interview to becoming lyrics to a song, “sung” by Charlie Sheen.

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

  • Almost all of the video is from an interview Sheen had with an ABC news interview, however, there is no longer than 12 seconds of one part of video being used. There is also a part in which “schmoyo” features a member of the group rapping over the background music.

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

  • There is no direct effect of the use upon the potential market. The “song” is not available for sale and there is no attempt to sell merchandise related to the remix song.

Three questions considered when determining fair use in court are:

Was the use of the copyrighted material for a different purpose, rather than just reuse for the original purpose and for the same audience? (If so, it probably adds something new to the cultural pool.

  • The material is remixed for entertainment purposes. The audience which interested in the original video of the interview may be interested in the remix, but for separate reasons.

Was the amount of material taken appropriate to the purpose of the use? (Can the purpose be clearly articulated? Was the amount taken proportional? Or was it too much?

  • Almost all of the material is derived from video interviews of Sheen with the exception of the rapping bridge. There are at most approximately 12 seconds of continuous video used in the remix.

Was it reasonable within the field or discipline it was made in?

  • The use appears to be quite reasonable.

An additional note is that in the description of the YouTube video, there is proper attribution to the video that was remixed.

After reviewing the four factors of fair use and questions considered in the courtroom, it appears that the remix video is under fair use in US copyright law. Also, after watching/listening to the remix several times, it proves quite catchy.

Works Cited

“17 USC § 107 – Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use.” Cornell University Law School. Legal Information Institute, n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. <http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/107&gt;.

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

Songify This – Winning – a Song by Charlie Sheen. By Schmoyoho. YouTube. YouTube, 07 Mar. 2011. Web. 30 Sept. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QS0q3mGPGg&gt;.


As a consumer of media and technology I frequently come across Terms and Conditions or Terms of Services that I agree to in order to use these Services or technologies. Do I accept these Terms? Always. Do I actually read the Terms and Conditions that I’m agreeing to? Absolutely not. Trey Parker’s South Park episode “HUMANCENTiPAD” satirizes the average consumer’s actions regarding technology including not reading Terms and Conditions before agreeing to them as well as how consumers respond to companies such as Apple.

I watched “HUMANCENTiPAD” in the context of the first chapter of William Patry’s book Moral Panics and Copyright Wars titled “How the Copyright Wars Are Being Fought and Why.” While the observations and subsequent statements that Patry forms about the Copyright Wars are mostly in regard to companies as copyright owners, there are direct comparisons to be made to Apple’s business strategies.

Patry opens up his chapter with the concept that industries, such as the music industry, have “gone to war with consumers by denying them what they wanted” (Patry 1). The theme of the industry’s control of consumers is one that particularly interested me when considering themes of “HUMANCENTiPAD.” A premise “HUMANCENTiPAD” is the control that Apple gains by having customers agree to Terms and Conditions (which no one actually reads because it’s “like eight pages long and they send you a new one every three weeks” (Parker)). In this episode, characters blindly agree to the Terms and Conditions and subsequently turn into a rather vulgar new type of iPad which is part-human part-centipede part-iPad, a parody of the horror film Human Centipede.

I decided to peruse the 17 page-long Terms and Conditions of iTunes and, as of the version last updated May 23, 2012, Apple does not have acceptors of the agreement agree to become any sort of HUMANCENTiPAD. However, the Terms and Conditions does contain some language which put Apple in control of monitoring compliance with Terms and Conditions and “enforcement and/or verify compliance with any part of [the] Agreement” (Apple). The South Park episode doesn’t necessarily criticize or bring to light specific content of the Terms and Conditions of iTunes, however, questions the actual control Apple products and other similar technologies have over consumers. For instance, Cartman throws a complete fit in Best Buy because his mother does not want to buy him an iPad and he refuses to be seen with a less expensive Toshiba HandiBook. While Cartman’s response is extreme, it represents the loyalty consumers feel towards brand-name technology, specifically Apple.

Some critical questions to raise are how we got to the point where consumers would not be caught dead with an off-brand piece of technology and why we feel the need to have the latest-and-greatest even if it is, in the case of the South Park episode, a HUMANCENTiPAD? According to Patry’s interpretations of the definition, Apple uses what he describes as “push marketing” by creating what it wants then markets it to the consumer. Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple was quoted in BusinessWeek in May 25 1998, cited in Owen Linzmayer’s Wired article “Steve Jobs’ Best Quotes Ever,” saying that “it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them” (qtd. in Linzmayer). This is precisely the kind of approach Patry detests and views as an attempt of control of consumers. Jobs even went one step further to say in a BusinessWeekOnline interview in October 12, 2004 that “I’ve always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do” (qtd. in Linzmayer). Patry criticizes businesses for creating “products or services based on what they want to sell to consumers and not based on what consumers want to buy, resulting in what Theodore Levitt called ‘marketing myopia’” (5). Unfortunately for Patry’s case against this marketing tool for being ineffective, Apple has been highly successful with push tactics and now has a large following of Apple users, myself included.

For whatever reason I feel a certain connection to my Apple products (of which there are eight being used regularly in my house at home with me and my parents) and while I would like to think that I make the decision to purchase Apple products based on my independent thoughts and decisions, I recognize that this is not the case. Like many other consumers I have allowed myself to be seduced by companies like Apple and in order to continue to use their products will blindly accept the Terms and Conditions presented to me “like every three weeks” (Parker).

Works Cited

Linzmayer, Owen. “Steve Jobs’ Best Quotes Ever.” Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 39 Mar. 2006. Web. 07 Sept. 2012. <http://www.wired.com/gadgets/mac/commentary/cultofmac/2006/03/70512?currentPage=all&gt;.

Parker, Trey. HUMANCENTiPAD. South Park Studios. Viacom, Apr. 2011. Web. 6 Sept. 2012. <http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s15e01-humancentipad&gt;.

Patry, William F. “How the Copyright Wars Are Being Fought and Why.” Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. 1-41. Print.

“Terms and Conditions.” iTunes Store Terms and Conditions. Apple, 23 May 2012. Web. 06 Sept. 2012. <http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/us/terms.html&gt;.