[Week 8] Trajectories of convergence II: the intellectual property paradigm and the content control industry

Last week, I briefly touched on copyright – appropriately so it seems, as this week’s topic is about intellectual property. As a photographer with a historical interest in graphics design, copyright and fair use for my own purposes, the issues of copyright, fair use and intellectual property is somewhat relevant to me.

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I personally have had to issue a few take-down notices myself; a few of my images have been taken without the watermark and redistributed on several websites without my permission for use as backgrounds. After the DMCA takedown through google, however, some websites clearly continued to ignore this and still post my work without consent. Unfortunately, there is little I can do – especially because many of the websites were foreign.

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I am simply one person though – and I’ve always been terrified to use copyrighted material for fear of upsetting someone the same way I was upset to discover my work being used by others for profit. I am lucky that I am still studying – as I can use the excuse of the “Fair Use” clause in copyright law – claiming that the copyrighted materials I use are taken with the intention of using for purposes of education. I’m not profiting from this intellectual property so that’s okay, right?

The laws of Fair Use can get a bit hazy for those who do not specialise in copyright law – and with the advent of the digital world and globalised information – especially Google – there is a growing concern of individuals and companies taking images that do not belong to them that were published on Facebook or Instagram, or that show up in a Google image search, and used for profit without permission.

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This weeks self-made meme! Rather topical in my opinion.

In this digital world, larger companies seem to have almost entirely given up on taking down those who appropriate their copyrighted content and instead are focussing on those who distribute it without their permission – namely, people who engage in online piracy. However there are instances of people being caught in the crossfire of these larger companies cracking down on content – for example, licensing company RumbleFish was thrown into rough waters time and time again for claiming copyright on Youtube videos they didn’t have the rights to, due to a series of “errors”. The most ludicrous being the case of a video about foraging being demonetised and ad revenue redirected to the company due to the bird calls in the background being picked up as a false flag as copyrighted material by one of their own musicians. Despite there being no music at all in the video. What.

 

Feel free to read the comments and description of this one. On the plus side – all the attention boosted the views by a huge amount.

[Week 7] Rip/Mix/Burn: music sampling and the rise of remix culture

As a prelude to this weeks blog post, I will include one of the recommended videos to watch should you feel – as a lot of the context of this post will be contained within this video.

This week’s topic seemed to be a bit different from the topics of the previous weeks, given it’s heavy music focus; a genre of music that I have generally stayed away from entirely with the exception of one artist that I felt particularly drawn to for sentimental reasons.

Naively and stubbornly, I always considered sample and remix culture to be somewhat bland, dull and unoriginal. As an angsty teen my afternoons were spent jamming out to death/black/progressive metal; I was drawn to the minor tones, the raw emotion in the music, and heaviness of the music – perhaps because I was a rather angsty teenager. However, being brought up by a very musical father and having an older brother that started his teenage years as a punk in a private school, I believed that any music that wasn’t made with instruments was really music. How wrong I was.

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It turns out – I just didn’t have the proper appreciation (I DID say I was naive). The rise of remix culture in music seemed to go hand in hand with the post-modern and pop-culture art movements. In much the same way that I didn’t consider rap, hip-hop and pop to be proper music, many people didn’t consider the work of Andy Warhol or Marcel Duchamp to be real art.

So imagine my surprise at discovering that one of the most common beats in the world, the Amen Break, was actually an appropriation itself of a 6 second drum break in an almost forgotten song. I had no idea that this was the basis of so many songs, and so important to the world of remix culture and electronic music, until watching this week’s source material.

As previously mentioned, there was an artist who wasn’t metal or rock that I used to be rather drawn to – Pendulum. Ironically enough, it was a collaboration between that band and another of my metal favourites (In Flames) that I was actually made aware of the fact that electronic drum and bass was actually cool. I used to work at a lasertag arena hosting parties and I really loved the sport – and Pendulum was one of the few artists we were allowed to play in our arena. Whenever I had the chance to play myself, I used to blast the music as loud as I could without getting in trouble from my boss for blowing the speakers and disturbing the customers (it was a really cool job).

The music really got the blood pumping – it was fast, it was fun to listen to, it didn’t take itself too seriously; and this could be, in part, to the band being heavily influenced by jungle sound from their earlier days. So upon listening to that sample of the Amen Break, I was immediately able to place that contextually within Pendulums’ music, particularly in their album Hold Your Colour, which was heavily influenced by “Jungle Sound”. The song Through the Loop in particular uses the above sample, and is a perfect example of remix culture, also including samples of Willy Wonka’s eery speech in the tunnel from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

I’ll admit that my previous dislike of appropriation culture probably lies within my disappointment as a youngster from being excited to hear Queen’s Under Pressure but feeling severely ripped off when it turned out to be Ice Ice Baby. I held a supreme dislike for that song – outraged at this blatant disrespect to one of the best artists in the world. Queen was clearly superior. How could Vanilla Ice get away with this? Spoiler – he didn’t. He was sued.

Copyright is a whole other kettle of fish, but not one I’ll really touch on too deeply. However, it does bring me to this weeks meme of the day!

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I feel the caption is pretty self explanatory – but I chose this image to pair it with due to the controversy surrounding it. The artist, Shephard Fairey, was sued for his use of an image of Barack Obama which was legally owned by The Associated Press. The appropriated image became the pinnacle image of the USA’s 2008 election; it is also an example of what happens when appropriation and remix culture is undertaken without the appropriate permissions and copyright is not respected.

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It is entirely possible that in the future, remix culture will be driven to extinction by copyright holders becoming increasingly wary of controversies surrounding the use of their material, and how it can be held against them. I hope that this doesn’t happen – but given the current trend of the media doubling down on material rights, it wouldn’t surprise me.

[Week 6] The power of networks: distributed journalism, meme warfare, and collective intelligence

 

 

I made a rare Pepe. I don’t know if I’m ashamed or proud. I think it’s a mix of both.

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This is a lie of course. I’m vegan. Just had to let you know.

Sincerely hoping I don’t get attacked by the Anti-Defamation League for this. I’m not an anti-semite, I promise. I’m just a woman studying memes for BCM112 – and for this week, briefly looking at how meme culture was turned into a tool for political warfare.

This is a bit of a cluster of a topic – so here’s CNN to sum it up Pepe the Frog’s leap from popular meme to tool of the anti-semites (yeah, I know).

 

So how did this even happen? Is it political correctness gone mad?

In a word, yes. Well, that is in my opinion, anyway. Please don’t flame me.

See internet, this is why we can’t have nice things. Because mean people do mean things with them, and then people who don’t understand and like to be offended take maximum offense and go way overboard.

In a way, one could argue that this event was entirely doctored through the entire political shitpost that was the 2016 US president’s election campaign; a lot of Trump supporters picked up the meme, quickly distributing it with hateful comments and using it in arguments against Clinton supporters. The Clinton campaign called this behaviour out and the leftist Anti-Defamation League jumped on this and quickly labeled it a symbol of hate.

I don’t have much of substance to say myself on the subject, other than I think using memes as a political warfare tool is not meant to be taken seriously; it is simply the mix of rising meme-culture being intertwined with politics. If I were to conspire, I could say that it was perhaps completely doctored to get younger people involved with politics. But I digress…

Youtuber thatistheplan sums it up from the view of someone who is a meme culture enthusiast.

[Week 6] Digital Artifact Pitch

Or, as I like to call it:

“Consistent and Effective Content Creation for the Time-and-Energy-Impaired”

A digital media artifact concept pitch created by a lazy person, for lazy people.

The concept around my digital artifact was borne from necessity – as most great inventions are. I want to create something useful and tangible: a guide for people like me, who are short on time, and constantly exhausted, to not have to sacrifice succeeding in small or solo business ventures when it comes to the world of digital marketing. For this to make a lot of sense, I feel like I need to fill you in on the background of who I am a little.

A Little bit about me.

I am a sole trader and have been for a few years. In 2013 I got my first dSLR and fell in love with photography. However maintaining the gear soon became very expensive. As more people took an interest in my work, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and turn my hobby into a small business. However – things have been very slow, and juggling with full time study, as well as an anxiety disorder, makes things quite challenging.

The Concept.

I have attended a few seminars on social media marketing, and have done quite a lot of research in order to boost my own online presence. However that hurdle of exhaustion, anxiety and being time-poor (and money-poor) has gotten in the way a lot. But I’m not the only one, and I want my artifact to help as a starting point or guide to people who are in a similar situation to me but want to succeed.

The Methodology.

I have planned to work this in four phases:

  1. Research – finding the right platforms and market for the individual’s needs.
  2. Identity – figuring out who you are as a business entity
  3. Content – appropriate content generation for your business and market
  4. Artifact – creation of my artifact itself – how to present the findings from the above.

I’m hoping to make a video in the same style as my video from a couple of weeks ago – the Medium is the Message Manifesto.

The Why.

That brings me to why I have chosen this particular topic for my digital artifact – aside from the prior of this having been beneficial to me. I believe that what I am trying to do can be greatly enhanced by the methodology of #FIST and the mantra of “The Medium is the Message”.

Keeping it fast, inexpensive, simple, and tiny is a great way to ensure that people don’t get intimidated by the artifact and overwhelmed by information – thus ensuring they don’t get completely turned off by the prospect of online social media marketing. The subject’s mantra of The Medium is the Message is entirely what the artifact is about, simply applied to the world of social media marketing – choosing the appropriate medium for your message so that they complement each other.

Hopefully this serves its purpose in giving some mind-fodder to those who need it and are looking into starting their own business ventures, without wanting to sacrifice their existing obligations.