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

Author Archives: winterville612

In the video we’ve chosen, “American Horror Story Remix,” the argument is being made that despite American Horror Story’s medium, television, and its unique plot lines and characters it still draws inspiration from and pays homage to a wide range of horror movies and the tropes that are seen within them. In the remix video, the editor’s choice of showing clips from AHS and then immediately after showing a clip from one of the horror movies helped show the two’s similarities. For example, the shots of the twins from The Shining juxtaposed with the shots from the twins in American Horror Story helped the viewer see the potential inspiration drawn from the film. Also, the continuity between AHS and the other horror movies, as put to together in the remix video, assisted their argument that even though the shots were from completely different works that they fit together well in terms of coherency. This is shown well within the video with the scene of the red ball being rolled on the ground toward the camera in the AHS shot and another red ball being picked up at the end of stairs by a man in a shot from one of the other horror movies.

The transformative nature of the use of the clips can be seen by the amount of the clips used because they were truncated enough that they were only used to get the point across to the viewer. The use of the clips was solely argumentative, in comparison to each other, as opposed to the nature of the originals which were used for entertainment purposes within the context of their respective films. However, there were certain clips like the one of Jack Nicholson axing the man in The Shining, although broken up into smaller clips was used almost in its entirety. The clip could have easily have been shortened, but nevertheless it still helped further the creator’s argument. In regards to the use of Nirvana’s song “Heart Shaped Box,” the use of the song made sense in regards to the beginning of the clip when the character Tate from AHS made a Nirvana reference, but had no other purpose in the clip besides maybe setting the tone for certain transitions and helping even further intensify certain scenes that were already intense. The music itself wasn’t transformative enough because of the lack of purpose within the video, which in turn shows how little of a change its purpose was from its original use.

In preparation for our own remix video we were able to take away a couple of things, the first being that all elements used have a purpose within the context of the argument we’re making and that those purposes are transformative. Seeing this video has also helped us come to the realization that when elements are used in a non-transformative way it is obvious to the viewer, therefore we have to make sure each thing we use is used in a transformative manner. In the video, their way of making their argument was by a comparison of the clips and it was made very clearly, so we have to make sure no matter what layout of the video we decide to use we also have to make our argument very clear and easy to be picked up by any viewer.


Works Cited:

American Horror Story Remix. Dir. Alec Richker. YouTube. YouTube, 16 May 2012. Web. 20 Oct 2012. <;.

Fair use is an intentionally vague and ambiguous concept. The fair-use doctrine of copyright law states that “under certain circumstances people can quote copyrighted work without permission or payment” (Aufderheide and Jaszi 3). The intent of copyright law is in place not only to protect the rights of the owners, but to also foster creativity and expression within society. The video that I found, “Phil Dunphy Rap Remix (Modern Family),” does just that: expresses the creativity of the person who put it together. The video takes various clips of Phil Dunphy doing/saying random things and puts them together into a rap that any viewer of the show, including myself, could appreciate and actually see him doing in the future since it’s so fitting of his eccentric personality.

When looking at the video and determining whether it falls under fair use or not, we first have to look at the four factors: “the character of the use,…the nature of the original work,…the amount taken…and the effect of taking on the market value of the work” (Aufderheide and Jaszi 24). In regards to the first factor dealing with the character of the use, this video is being used to entertain its audience just like the show it originated from, but it seems to want entertain the audience in a different way than they would be entertained from the show itself. The nature of the original is that of a mockumentary comedy, having all of the elements of your traditional comedy and putting those together with traditional elements of a documentary. For the rap remix video there were only about 45 seconds worth of Modern Family clips taken to create it since some of it is repeated throughout, and there’s also audio from a copyrighted song that plays in the background throughout the whole video. Personally, I do not believe that this video will have any dramatic effect on the market, especially not negatively. I feel that this video could actually be seen as promotion for the show and they could actually gain more viewers, leading to a possible increase in revenue. Also, the video is also being used for noncommercial purposes only because the uploader isn’t gaining any money from ads being ran in front of it or anything.

And then comes the ultimate question: whether or not the new work falls into one of the “three categories of fair use: transformative; productive; and orthogonal” (Aufderheide and Jaszi 19). If the video had been just clips of Phil Dunphy’s best lines on the show and they were stringed together in a montage, then that would not have been transformative because it would have been in the same context and wouldn’t have brought anything new to the original work. However, this video does bring something new to the table: splicing together clips of the show to create a very catchy rap, allowing it to be recognized as transformative.

Based on the dissection of this video using the four factor test and validating its transformativeness, I would argue that it does indeed fall under the category of fair use.

Works Cited:

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

“Phil Dunphy Rap Remix (Modern Family).” YouTube. YouTube, 1 Oct. 2011. Web. 27 Sept. 2012.

The relationship between media industries and their consumers has always been a rocky one. It’s become quite unclear whether said industries are there to give the people what they want or to force unwanted products down their throats. The media industries have the mentality that they and only they possess the right to create and innovate new things. This in itself hurts the companies because many of them are still stuck in the past instead of trying to adapt to the many facets of the modern world. This problem could be circumvented if they were to acknowledge that authorship is not a solo act, but should be treated as a collaboration between the industry and the consumer. What they fail to see is that such collaboration could actually aid their company’s success based on the fact that consumers are the ones utilizing these products, so why not let them have a say? Patry adds to this argument that “Innovation is the solution because innovation provides the means by which new content can be created and then distributed to consumers in a form and manner consumers desire” (Patry 22).
As a result of the industry’s current state, they seem to have taken absolute control over the consumer. This aspect of the industry/consumer relationship, albeit in an exaggerated manner, was depicted with a hint of accuracy in the “HUMANCENTiPAD” episode of South Park. Showing how owning a certain product, in this case the iPad, can “elevate someone’s status in society” and make them feel like part of an elite group truly speaks to how controlling today’s industries are. They have practically brainwashed the consumers into believing that if they don’t own their product, then they are outcasts. This exclusionary tactic is also a way that the companies sell more products because the people who already own them don’t ever want to be the outcasts, so they make a point to purchase the subsequent products. When Kyle accepts the Terms and Conditions of iTunes and thinks nothing of it, it struck me that majority of today’s society actually does this. “Who just agrees to something they don’t read?” recounted several of the characters in the episode (Parker “HUMANCENTiPAD”). What if we were actually signing ourselves over to a company for experimentation? We wouldn’t know it because we didn’t read it.
The confusing nature and loopholes is another major problem within the copyright system. The system’s confusing nature has led to people being thrown into a “digital guillotine” in which some customers of ISPs have been presumed guilty without any sort of due process (Patry 13). The Terms and Conditions of YouTube explicitly say that “YouTube reserves the right to remove Content without prior notice,” and it’s clauses like this one that get people in the end (“Terms of Service”). If more people saw this then there’d be much more fighting back instead of consumers just accepting what happens to them. Users of websites like YouTube shouldn’t be getting trampled over, they deserve to know the reason as to why their content has been taken down.
Unless consumers actively attempt to reform the current copyright system, the media industries will continue to take advantage of them in any possible way. The only way that the two sides will ever be able to coexist humanely is if the industries acknowledge the necessity of the consumers, whom create the difference between the industry’s failure and its success.

Works Cited

“HUMAN CENTiPAD.” South Park. Dir. Trey Parker. Comedy Central. 27 April 2011. Television. 8 September 2012.

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

“Terms of Service.” YouTube. 9 June 2010. Web. 8 September 2012.