Copyright Laws: Remix it.

Copyright Laws!  We have all pushed the boundary of copyright, admit it.  Is every music
file on your computer paid for? Did you download a few images for that video you made
yesterday? Did you remix or remediate something into you own work? Photoshopped an
image? Posted a song lyric? Yep. I thought so.

So how did copyright law become so stringent? I mean, 70 years AFTER the death of the
author/musican/producer pretty much means NO! you can’t use this. Ever.

But Take a Look…

Then Walt Disney did this…

This…is a remix. But. Don’t forget, copyright says remix is bad…it’s bad if you plan on
using anything remotely current. The Disney Corporation was a huge proponent of the
extension of copyright. Interesting since the magic of Disney is rooted in remix.
Well played, Disney.

However, there is something called Fair Use. This allows us to use copyrighted
materials in small amounts, for no monetary compensation, as students, but Youtube
will still tell you that your video has copyrighted material.

The reality is that the “copies” and remixes of  movies/music/etc and so on were not a
threat until technology advanced.  Now as we learned earlier in the semester, the
amateur can be JUST as “good” as the creator. Lawrence Lessig points out the
“(consumer generated) copy was inferior to the original; and second, the technologies
to enable a consumer copy to copy an RO [Read/only] token were extremely rare”
(Remix 36-37). Boy, times have changed. He also states that the most important
policy mistake is one that stifles the Sousarian instinct: a policy driven by the view
that the only way to protect RO culture is to render RW [Read/write] culture illegal.
That choice is a false choice” (50).

In A Nutshell

So. We are at an impasse buried in Copyright Laws. Fair use is a step toward progress,
but our tech savvy culture needs more. How can we protect the rights of the creators
without squelching the creativity of the consumers? Does the copyright still foster
creativity? We are a Read/Write culture… remix is at our fingertips.

The Remix Manifesto sets it up for us:

  1. culture builds on the past
  2. the past attempts to control the future
  3. culture is becoming less free
  4. limit the control of the past on culture

And now… it’s our job to enact #4.

Let's Remix it!


Producer + Consumer = Prosumer

Watch out world.  The amateur is having her hayday: forums to publish on, videos to create, affinity groups to join and everything that might crumble the hierarchy of the entertainment business.  Okay, it might not be THAT bad.  We are, however, in a serious state of flux, and we humans don’t particularly love this idea of change, now do we?  or maybe we want to like it?

So first, Consumers: passive, observer. Producer: active, distributor. Prosumer: consumes and produces
Example: Films

A) Excerpt from Jaws

B) My Nephew’s Version

My nephew was a consumer.  He watched Jaws, but he did not want to stop there; he (and his dad) created a video to depict Ben’s favorite scene as well as “pay tribute” to the film in his own way, thus developing into a prosumer.

We do consume products; however, these products that we buy frequently do not just feed us information (not even TV’s anymore). Our ipads and laptops CAN entertain us but they also provide us with the medium to create and contribute.

Passive Consumption

Active Consumption

Due to the ability to create.  Let’s think about  zones of tolerance. 

Henry Jenkins establishes that a zone of tolerance is a place wherein “fans can operate while asserting some control over what happens” in Convergence Culture (154).  His example here focuses on Star Wars and how Lucas has created spaces that the fans have control, but he has still orchestrated them.  One such location is  . While it’s not ALL about the money… it is about the money. Who is profiting? How? Why?

The fact that LucasFilms creates these spaces for the fans does not make them the evil corporation that “we” frequently depict big companies to be.  True, Elizabeth Durack’s claim that “That’s the genius of LucasFilm offering fans web space–it lets them both look amazingly generous and be even more controlling” (157) can be supported easily.  While it is true that LucasFilms are not going to “feel the hurt” from amateur endeavors that connect to StarWars, other less established companies could be ruined.  As a member of society, I suppose first we should decide if we care?  As a prosumer, I want to be able to keep all my freedom to create, publish, remix, remediate etc., but I should probably think about the points at which my creations infringe upon someone else’s.  There is no easy way to achieve this balance.

Think about the TV we watch today.  It is participatory.

We vote on American Idol

We discuss the Bachelor on Forums to forecast “who gets a rose”

Why is this participatory culture so scary? It has brought about a huge amount of change in a small space. Ownership as we know is changing. Production is changing. Consumption is changing. Technology is changing. Access is changing. The scope of audience has shifted from intimate groups to public domains. Stability is non-existant. We are all prosumers in some way.


We only "see" the technology when it fails.

Technology permeates our existence; however, it does not only fall into the realm of “digital” technologies. The focus of this unit highlighted the malleability of technology, immediacy and hypermediacy, the interchangeability of audience and publisher, and the reality of connection and sharing.

Baron reminds us that writing is a technology that was not trusted in ancient times (think:”getting it in writing”), but writing itself has changed, shifted.

Shifts in Writing Technologies

How many of us hand write (regularly, say an essay)?  Writing for many of us means hands to a key board, not pen to paper. The medium through which we write (including the pencil) was remediated because the potential was realized that shifted it from its original purpose (Bolter & Grusin 68).

For Bolter and Grusin, immediacy is central to technology (and the production of remediated texts); however, Delagrange supports a focus on hypermediacy.  The most important difference between these two terms is that hypermediacy “calls attention to its mediation through the accumulative effect of stacking, layering,linking, juxtaposing, and other visual, verbal and aural strategies” (Delagrange 27).

Just like the existence of the phonograph did not ruin our vocal cords, the remediation of audience/publisher and the value of the amateur has not ruined society (most likely); it has simply tapped into our cognitive surplus and shifted us from simple consumers into producers.

Publisher/Authorship can shift from this...

to this…   and even this

This shift represents some of the fears about ownership and “piracy”: WHO OWNS IT?! I ask, does it matter? How do you cite it (if you wanted to)?

SOPA: piracy or remediation?

Connection creates opportunity for sharing and technology is the means through which we connect and share: “media is the connective tissue of society” (Shirky 54).  Do benefits outweigh consequences? Arguably, we are tapping into our cognitive surplus as we share, connect and remediate; it is a fulfillment of potential.

Technology has also uncovered a shift (or continuum): deep and hyper attention.  Multiple stimuli has opened up opportunities for pedagogical shifts.

Visualization of "hyper attention" (Hayles)

Technology is constantly shifting, and it is possible that we rely upon it too much–the separation of me and the machine is narrowing: I’m followed and tweeted and friended and linked in nearly 100% of the time. It’s at my finger tips, in the palm of my hand; The scope(Globalization) of my connection leaps time zones and countries. I “talk” in real time to someone stationed in Afghanistan while I grade papers in my office on Blackboard. It is the fluidity of technology as it is in constant stage of change that threads through this unit; the changes do not replace the old but enhance it and remediate it into new and interesting territories.

Technology: "to infinity, and beyond!"