remix culture: copyright
Have you seen Eric Faden’s A Fair(y) Use Tale? It uses clips from a couple of dozen Disney movies to explain copyright and fair use:
I found the video in a very useful teaching resource for discussing copyright in relation to remixes at TeachingCopyright.org. One of their suggested lesson plans for high school students is specifically about remixes and when a remix can be said to be covered by fair use. Students learn a bit about fair use, view two-three videos (A Fair(y) Use Tale is one of them) and then use a Trial Guide to research and finally run a mock trial where Disney sues Faden for breach of copyright. In total it would take two 60 minute classes to do this, with students preparing the trial at home between classes. Here’s the lesson plan, there are also educator’s notes and resources to go with it. Thank you Electronic Frontier Foundation!
Unfortunately, Norway and most of Europe don’t have Fair Use, so totally cribbing this lesson plan probably won’t do for Thursday’s class, although the topic is copyright and remix culture. In fact, I’m pretty sure that while A Fair(y) Use Tale would be legal in the US (at least, it should be), it would be clearly illegal in Norway. In Norway we don’t have fair use, but we do have “sitatrett” or “the right to cite”, which allows quotation of other sources without permission, but expressly forbids twisting the meaning of whatever is quoted. The quotation has to be “loyal” to the source. You can criticise the source, but not by taking the quote out of context unfairly. (Gisle Hannemyrs Lommejuss for digitale medier provides a good overview in the section on “avgrensninger i opphavsretten”. See also the section on “appropriasjonskunst”.) Fair use, on the other hand, expressly permits parody and says that “transformative use” of material is one of the proofs that the use is actually “fair use”. I’m not a lawyer, btw, and to be honest, the details of all this are extremely confusing. And in a class like ours, the international aspects are crazy. We have exchange students from Germany, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, France, Slovenia and more, mostly just here for a semester. What if one of these makes a remix while in Norway, but uses US material and publishes it on a US server, and then goes back to their home country which may have different laws again? To complicate things further: what if an exchange student makes their remix in their own language, while in Norway, using content from the US, Norway and China or Italy or whatever, and publishes it on a US server? I asked a lawyer friend about this and she just laughed and said oh no, don’t even go there. So frankly, I have no idea.
So today’s class is about copyright, anyway. We’ve read the first 100 pages of Lawrence Lessig’s Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive
in the Hybrid Economy, and I’ve also recommended that students watch one of Lessig’s talks, such as his TED talk on Laws that choke creativity, as well as one of the several good documentaries on the effects of copyright laws and remix culture – Johnsen, Andreas, Ralf Christensen and Henrik Moltke’s Good Copy Bad Copy (2007) or Brett Gaylor’s RIP: A Remix Manifesto (2009)
We also need to discuss some of the entirely practical issues we have to deal with: how do we deal with copyright in the videos we’re making ourselves?
We’ll definitely discuss Creative Commons licensing, and the public domain, of course. And we’ll look at sources for Creative Commons licenced images (you can search for CC licenced photos at Flickr or Google images – and a lot of old images in “The Commons” at Flickr have no copyright restrictions (check each photo though), videos (blip.tv) and music (find and sample music at ccMixster, or at Jamendo, create your own at jamstudio.com) – or check out one of the lists of sources for CC licenced material.
For works in the public domain (“i det fri) see for instance this list of a few resources from TeachingCopyright.org.
Then there’s also the simple method of asking the person who created the image, video or text for permission. Since YouTube still doesn’t have a simple way of licencing videos, this is what you have to do to use most YouTube videos. Mostly, people will be happy to say yes.