From fellow Oxy instructor Edmond Johnson on Facebook (where I stumbled across this link):
Paul Zukofsky is a violinist, conductor, and former UCLA professor whose father (Louis Zukofsky, 1904-1978) was a semi-obscure objectivist poet. The son inherited his fathers copyrights and is now openly hostile toward any grad student or scholar who dares to write about his father’s works. Check out the extraordinary copyright notice he’s posted on his website…
You can read Zukofsky’s post here. It’s especially interesting, after all of our talk about the copyright industries, to consider the case of an individual rights owner who is taking this stance, and one that is especially hostile towards academics doing scholarly work. I wonder what Aufderheide and Jaszi would have to say about this, especially an excerpt like this:
Despite what you may have been told, you may not use LZ’s words as you see fit, as if you owned them, while you hide behind the rubric of “fair use”. “Fair use” is a very-broadly defined doctrine, of which I take a very narrow interpretation, and I expect my views to be respected. We can therefore either more or less amicably work out the fees that I demand; you can remove all quotation; or we can turn the matter over to lawyers, this last solution being the worst of the three, but one which I will use if I need to enforce my rights.
In general, as a matter of principle, and for your own well-being, I urge you to not work on Louis Zukofsky, and prefer that you do not. Working on LZ will be far more trouble than it is worth. You will be far more appreciated working on some author whose copyright holder(s) will actually cherish you, and/or your work. I do not, and no one should work under those conditions. However, if you have no choice in the matter, here are the procedures that I insist upon, and what you must do if you wish to spare yourself as much grief as possible.
1– people who want to do their dissertation on LZ, or want to quote from him in their diss., must, if only as a common courtesy, inform me of their desire to use this material, and obtain my permission to do so. If you do that, and if I agree, the permission will be only for the purposes of the diss. and there will be no charge for limited use within the diss. You will not be allowed to distribute the diss. publicly. Distribution via on-line publication is not allowed. I urge you to keep quotation to a minimum, as the more quotation, the less likely I am to grant permission.
2– people who quote Louis Zukofsky in their dissertations without having had the courtesy to request my permission, and who do so without having obtained my permission to quote LZ, do not have permission to use LZ quotations, and will, in the future, be refused all permission to quote any and all LZ in their future publications, and I promise to do my utmost to hamper, hinder, and preferably prevent all such quotation.
And, finally, here is an interesting analysis of the post.
Because we are headed into the remix video assignment next week, and you’ll be spending the weekend formulating your argument and gathering materials (or “evidence”), this post will be co-authored by you and your partner. You will collaboratively:
- Select a remix video that you think makes a compelling argument (this doesn’t mean it has to be tonally “serious,” it just needs to make a clear statement about an issue, using audio and visual materials to support this point)
- Write up (approx 500 words) on…
- What the video is arguing
- Why, specifically, it’s effective in how it makes its argument
- The transformativity of the use
- What you will take away from this video when prepping your own remix video re: what works, what doesn’t.
Basically, your remix video team will turn an analytical eye on a remix video, with the aim of helping you be strategic in the design of your own, and to model the sorts of questions and conversations you and your partner should be having throughout this process. If you are looking for some potential videos, Political Remix Video might be a good starting point.
While their vid is still fresh in your minds, I pulled Olivia and Tyler’s vid proposal and analysis from last year’s CSP blog, so that you might see how they framed their intentions and argument in their own words. You’ll be crafting similar statements to accompany your own remix videos. Enjoy!
In our vidding project we are attempting to portray the conflict between producers and fans. More specifically, we are arguing that while producers continually try to control fan production, fans resist these efforts and believe that once a media text is released to the public, it belongs to them. In essence, fans end up victorious when fighting producers for control of a media text, because their numbers cannot be controlled.
In previous weeks, we have argued over the notion that fan production (specifically, fan fiction) can be considered textual poaching. However, we have also discussed that this kind of poaching allows producers and writers to keep a constant fan base. For example, with Supernatural, the writers and producers have included and acknowledged fan fiction about Sam and Dean in episodes of the television show. This is representative of the fact that they understand the existence of fan fiction and, although they do not condone it, the producers and writers know that there is nothing they can do about it.
Using the Glee mash-up of “Anything Goes” and “Anything You Can Do” we are telling a story of fannish revolt against what we consider to be the old regime of the creators. At the beginning of the song, we plan to show how fans believe that “times have changed”, meaning that producers no longer have as much control over their texts as they once did. This will be accomplished by creating multiple images of organized chaos being assaulted or confined, yet then breaking loose and wreaking havoc. For example, we have clips of the Joker confined to a cell, representing how fans were once closely controlled and their fannish participation suppressed. We also use a clip in which we compare India Jones’ battle with a skilled enemy to the conflict between fans and creators. In the clip, the enemy seems to have the upper hand, but Dr. Jones swiftly defeats his attacker with a simple surprise attack. This serves to represent how this fannish revolt is sudden and unexpected by the creators.
Once we have established this idea of a fannish revolution, we will then include scenes that feature a figure acting as a creator attempting to regain control over fan culture. The back-and-forth singing of “No you can’t” and “Yes I can” is representative of the struggle over the ownership of the text. We plan to include images of actual fighting during this portion of the song, including clips from a lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Luke, and Leia’s strangling of the domineering Jabba the Hutt with the chains meant to confine her. Are video will end with a scene featuring Buffy the Vampire Slayer screaming and exploding the heads of the Gentlemen who, dressed in suits, serve as a metaphor for the creator of a media text.
In preparation for our discussion of fan vidding on Friday, and to continue our discussion of slash as a form of textual poaching today, below find an edited/condensed version “Amok Time,” an episode of Star Trek. Note the reference to slash in the description. You can find a plot synopsis of the episode here. Watch this with your “slash goggles” on, consider how fans might poach elements of the text to support a reading of Kirk and Spock as romantically involved.
Francesca Coppa opens her history of fan vidding with a discussion of “Closer,” a Kirk/Spock slash video that went viral. Please watch this video before coming to class on Friday, and be ready to discuss it both in terms of how it “poaches” elements from the episode of Star Trek above, and how it embodies common vid aesthetics.
Below, you’ll find some images documenting the questions/concerns/situations we collectively generated in class last week, working towards the goal of collectively writing a code of best practices in fair use in preparation for our upcoming remix assignment.
In lieu of class this Friday and writing your weekly blog post, I expect you to spend that time contributing to our class’ code of best practices. I have added in and added comments on some pre-existing situations from the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video to serve as a foundation/inspiration, along with suggesting some broad “situations” for you to consider. Some questions to think about, as you consider our specific “community of practice,” and the collective decisions we will make about how to access and use copyrighted materials in our remixes:
- What best practices can we mutually agree upon in terms of extracting, using, disposing, and attributing copyrighted works?
- How can we assure that what we create is transformative?
- What kind of pre-production steps should we take to assess which audio and visual files will function as compelling “evidence” for our arguments?
- Do we want to put our finished products under creative commons licenses?
- How might we frame our finished projects to make a clear fair use claim?
You’ve all been invited to edit the googledoc via your Oxy email address, so you should be able to access it either through your google drive, or via this link. Let me know if you’re having any issues accessing it. You can edit the content of the code itself, and pose questions as “comments” if you think a point warrants further discussion or analysis.
This blog prompt will serve as a bridge between our week on fair use and next week’s topic: remix. You will select a remix video, and make a case for why the video does or doesn’t fall under fair use, drawing on specific sections of Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi’s Reclaiming Fair Use.
This should not be a simple yes because/no because response, but rather you should engage with the nuances and ambiguities of fair use exemptions, and analyze how the video is decontextualizing or recontextualizing copyrighted content. Choose your video thoughtfully, because some of them will become our case studies for next week’s class discussions, but you can select any video you want, provided that it meets two criteria:
- Many/most of the visual or aural elements used in the video are copyrighted materials.
- You’re able to embed it in your post for the blog (see below).
For most youtube videos, this will be as simple as copying and pasting the link into the body of your post (see the red square below. For other sites, you might need to C/P the embed code (see the circle/arrow below) into the “text” tab in WordPress (look to the top right corner of the frame you’re typing in) when composing your post:
Leave any questions you might have in the comments…
One of my colleagues in the CDLR, Adrianne Wadewitz, is a Wikipedia Ambassador. There’s a “Wikipedia Takes Los Angeles” event this coming Saturday that she wanted to extend an invitation for, especially because it relates to some of the themes of our course. Here’s a quick description/more info:
On Saturday, September 22 Wikipedia will be having a “Wikipedia Takes Los Angeles” event in Pasadena. We will be taking photographs of national historic monuments and uploading them to the encyclopedia. Students will explore the area, learn a little bit of history, learn about copyright, and learn how Wikipedia acquires content. There is a facebook page on which to signup below.
It sounds like a cool event, and a great excuse to go explore Pasadena and learn more about Wikipedia’s copyright policies. If you end up going, let me know and I will give you some extra credit towards your participation grade for attending and writing up a brief recap of the event for our blog.
This week, you will just be commenting on this post, rather than creating an original post of your own. This means that your post can be considerably shorter than last week (a paragraph will suffice, though you’re free to write more), but that you will need to read over the prior comments from your classmates and engage with them/respond to them when appropriate. Unlike last week’s prompt, which was relatively directed in terms of which texts you needed to engage with and what to cover, this week I wanted to continue our conversation about Walter Benjamin’s seminal 1936 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”
Specifically, I would like you to consider the “cult” of copyright, in terms of how copyright laws and/or copyright industries/copyright holders attempt to reinstate the aura, authenticity, and authority of cultural products. Consider the “important insight” from Benjamin, that “mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual” (736), and how this relates to his subsequent remarks on “cult value” and “exhibition value” (737-738). In addition to offering some analysis of these remarks, consider responding to any of the following questions:
- Do think that the “ritualistic” quality of art has been dismantled by mechanical reproduction? If so, has mechanical reproduction shifted the function of art towards political practice?
- Do you generally think about art objects that you encounter as having an “aura?” Certain objects and not others?
- How might we productively engage Patry’s discussion of the Copyright Wars through Benjamin’s remarks on the relationship between war and technology (750-751)?
And here’s one final provocation: In his book Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts, Jonathan Gray suggests:
If ‘aura’ is the sense of a text’s authenticity and authority – which, by nature, could never be an actual, uncontested quality of a text, only a discursively constructed value – while Benjamin focuses on how reproduction might lessen aura, surely we might explore ways in which reproduction might change the text, add context, ‘tradition,’ and ‘presence,’ and thereby increase aura (97).
Gray’s example is a Lord of the Rings DVD, in which a plethora of paratexts/special features (film commentaries, making of documentaries, interviews with the cast and crew) all work to build an aura around the film, and its reaffirm the authority of Peter Jackson as the “artist.” Can you think of any other examples in which reproduction might actually increase the aura of a cultural object?
Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings (Fifth Edition). Eds. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 731-751. Print.
Gray, Jonathan. Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts. New York: New York University Press, 2010. Print.
Here’s a brief recap of what we covered/discussed this week and links to the prezis:
– Copyright by definition (function of copyright, what is and isn’t protected, and how the definition can lack definition)
– Brief distinction between copyright, patent, and trademark (here’s a nice, clear blog post on the basic distinctions)
– Discussion of the core tensions of the “Copyright Wars,” outlined in William Patry’s “How the Copyright Wars Are Being Fought and Why”
– The law/norm gap
– Technology, surveillance, and the panoptic potential of copyright laws
– Visibility as a “trap,” mental control within the panopticon
– Hegemony: working definitions
– “Blinkers” within copyright discourse: public domain, authorship, gender
– The issues with how creativity (ex. romanticized notions of autonomous authorship) and free/dom (ex. the public domain as “the positive other”) are framed on BOTH sides of the copyright debates
– The call for “critical reflexivity” when reading/writing about copyright
For this week’s blog assignment (due Sunday, 9/9 at 6pm), you will:
- Watch the South Park episode “HumancentiPad” and consider how it frames the relationship between media industries and consumers, and “innovation.”
Leave any questions about this assignment in the comments below.