Copyright, and left

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Copyright, and left

Copyright has, historically and legally, provided protection against unauthorized copying or paraphrasing (plagiarism) so that authors may realize economic gain from their creative endeavors. With the digital turn, copyright has become more complicated and approaches to protecting and using intellectual property (often called "copy left") are confusing. General information and resources are provided here.

Copyright > Challenges Presented by Digital Media

The idea, and practice, of creating with new media works is intriguing with regard to copyright. What problems might one encounter? What models are already in place? What potential models are available to guide future thinking? How should we consider copyright when the model upon which it is based, does not, arguably, fit into the current social, technological, and market realities of the day? Cory Doctorow argues

No business model, art form, or practice has an inherent right to exist: it has to fit in with the social, technological, and market realities of its day. . . . Technology enables creativity, community, art, and love. Crippling it to save someone's outmoded business-model is a crime against humanity ("Foreward." Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture. Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid, ed. Cambridge, The MIT Press, 2008. xi)

Of DJ culture as an archival impulse, Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid) says . . .

Lay one metaphor onto the other, remix, and press play. The sampling machine can handle any sound, and any expression. You just have to find the right edit points in the sound envelope—it's that structure thing come back as downloadable shareware for the informationally perplexed (Miller 6).

Form and function, fact and fiction, art and architecture—all woven into a testimony of human reconstruction in media (Miller 8).

The remix becomes "faction" (Miller 9).

We live in an era where quotation and sampling operate on such a deep level that the archaeology of what can be called "knowledge" floats in a murky realm between the real and the unreal. Look at The Matrix as an updated version of Plato's cave, a parable piece in his Republic written more than two thousand years ago, but still resonant with the idea of living in a world of illusion (Miller 11).

Think of DJ culture as a kind of archival impulse applied to a kind of hunter-gather milieu—textual poaching, becomes zero-paid, becomes no-logo, becomes brand x. It's that interface thing again, but this time around the mind-brain interface becomes an emergent system of large-scale economies of expression (Miller 13).

Copyright > The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA; enacted into law 28 October 1998) was intended to stop illegal copying of digital content (digital piracy of movies, recordings, and software).
READ an overview of The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

READ the final version (Enrolled Bill) as passed by both Houses

DOWNLOAD a copy of The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (in PDF format)

Among the Act's provisions is one that protects internet service providers from copyright infringement in digital contexts, including allowing service providers to remove content from individual web sites that appears to involve copyright infringement (the so called "safe harbor provision").

Supported by the software and entertainment industries, as well as internet service providers, The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was opposed by librarians, scientists, and academics. In a report entitled "Unintended Consequences: Four Years under the DMCA," The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues the Act has

  1. "Chilled" the legitimate free-speech activities of journalists, publishers, scientists, students, programmers, and members of the public
  2. Granted copyright owners "the power to unilaterally eliminate the public's fair use rights"
  3. Impeded competition and innovation. For example, Sony uses the Act to protect their monopoly on Playstation video game consoles as well as their "regionalization" systems that limits users from playing games legitimately in other countries

The Anti-DMCA website archives information opposing The Digital Millennium Copyright Act. LEARN more

A report released 3 August 2007 by MCPS-PRS Alliance, which represents music rights holders, and Big Champagne, an online media measurement company, concluded that the music industry "should embrace illegal websites" because torrent and peer-to-peer filing sharing sites and services could not be stopped. Brand loyalty (and revenue) could be built through increased concert ticket sales as well as the sales of licensed products at digital sources (YouTube, Google, etc.) currently beyond the reach of the record industry. Read the article, "Music Industry 'Should Embrace Illegal Websites'," at the Financial website.

Copy Left > Fair Use

"Copy left" is a term frequently used for a variety of specific reliefs from the demands of copyright. These include creative commons, public domain, and fair use.

For example, Section 107, Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use, of The Copyright Act of 1976 provided exemptions to the exclusive rights built into the copyright law. Fair Use is one. Here are the basic considerations regarding Fair Use . . .

Nothwithstanding the provisions of Section 106 and 106A the fair use of copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction of copies or phonorecords or by any means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is fair use the factors to be considered include:
◊ The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commerical nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
◊ The nature of the copyrighted work
◊ The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
◊ The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

A Fair(y) Use Tale
Bucknell professor Eric Faden cut together words and scenes from various Disney animated films to present a funny and articulate lesson on copyright: what it is and how it works. In the process, he demonstrates fair use, using content from one of the strongest corporate voices for even more restrictive copyright laws.

Fair Use Evaluator
This tool can help you evaluate the "fairness" of your intended use of copyrighted material(s) and collect information that can help support your fair use evaluation if every asked by copyright holder.

Laws that choke creativity
A TED talk by Lawrence Lessig to make you think.

Creativity Endures: The 'Amen Break' and Copyright Law
A 6-second drum solo with its own Wikipedia page? Yes, and here's the story by Kristen Bialik

Walt Disney's Taxi Driver
This reimagining of Martin Scorsese's classic film "Taxi Driver" follows Mickey Mouse-obsessed Travis Bickle as he looks for love in a rapidly transforming New York City. A fair use parody by Bryan Boyce.

DJ Danger Mouse. Dangermouse—Encore
1968: The Beatles release "The White Album"
2003: Jay-Z releases "The Black Album"
2004: DJ Danger Mouse mashes both into "The Grey Album"
This is the video.

RIP! A Remix Manifesto (2009)
Filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores issues of copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 20th century and shattering the wall between users and producers.
See also Girl Talk creates a mashup
A sample from Gaylor's film.

Primer on Copyright Liability and Fair Use
Maintained by the Digital Media Law Project, this legal primer discusses copyright and fair use in the context of citizen media.

Stanford Copyright & Fair Use—Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors
Maintained by Stanford University Libraries. Details the four factors (the purpose and character of your use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and the effect of the use upon the potential market) generally focused on fair use of copyrighted materials.

Summaries of Fair Use Cases
Cases involving text, artwork and audiovisual, Internet, music, and parody: important factors, fair use and not.

Fair Use
Maintained by the Center for Social Media. Provides information about codes and best practices for Fair Use in several different situations. Also provides teaching materials.

Statement of Best Practices for Fair Use in Documentary Film provided by The Society for Cinema and Media Studies. Download as a .PDF

The Society for Cinema and Media Studies' Statement of Best Practices for Fair Use in Teaching for Film and Media Educators. Downloads as a .PDF

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) provides relief from copyright, as well as a model for how creative works might be shared. Essentially, Creative Commons allows photographers, artists, educators, etc. to license their work with only "some rights reserved." Basically, these licenses give you permission in advance to use the works for your own creative endeavors.

Creative Commons
Website for Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

Creative Commons for Music Educators
An interactive booklet by Samuel Wright focusing on Australian "fair play" ("fair use" in the United States); provides good information for educators regarding what materials may be used and how to avoid copyright infringements.

Search for Creative Commons content

An archive of freely available, "some rights reserved" sound clips.

The Prelinger Archive
Thousands of films from the Prelinger archive of "ephemeral" films.

Public Domain

Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States
A useful chart to help you determine copyright status.

Documentary Film Chart
This chart can be helpful for your use of film in your creative projects. Available from the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University.

Guide To Finding Interesting Public Domain Works Online
A guide to assist you exploring interesting works which have entered the public domain.

Public Domain Review
An online journal focused on works which have now fallen into the public domain.

OpenPhoto Stock photos licensed for free commercial and non-commercial use

Flickr Creative Commons Pool
Thousands of Creative Commons photos are available on this popular photo-sharing site.

PD Photo
Thousands of photos contributed to the public domain

Open Clip Art
Public domain clip art

Works Cited

Miller, Paul D. (aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid.) "In through the Out Door." Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture. Edited by Paul D. Miller, The MIT Press, 2008.