I’m always amazed at how our readings and blog posts coincide with the podcasts I’m listening to at the time. I’m sure some of you listened to last week’s episode of This American Life: So a Monkey and a Horse Walk Into a Bar and particularly the first act which focused on the story of David Slater and the photograph he helped capture of Ella. NOTE: Ella captured the photo herself, she took a selfie, so Wikimedia’s argument is that it is public domain since she is animal. Slater claims intellectual property on the photo and PETA then took Slater to court. A monkey was suing Slater.
So this segues nicely into our readings and how intellectual and artistic property affects media. I have never been a fan of Girl Talk but I vaguely remember hearing about him. The video RiP! A Remix Manifesto by Brett Gaylor does an excellent job explaining both sides of the issue. Copyright was invented to help art and creation to continue forward from generation on but having access to information (cue the printing press) creates more problems. With the rise of the Internet and sites like Napster, another plethora of issues came to fruition.
Previous works of art helps to inspire new creation. Some of my favorite movies or plays were inspired by other pieces. And as a creator, I can definitely pay tribute to where my ideas were sparked from and how I took those ideas or creative choices and made them my own. Take for example Baz Luhrmann’s version of Romeo + Juliet. The film itself is copyrighted whereas Shakespeare (as we all know) is public domain. So you do not need to do anything if you are looking to create your own version of R&J but you would need to consult Baz Luhrmann’s camp if you are trying to to show a clip of from the film. So where does this line draw?
Girl Talk and other mashup style artists are being confined to a sometimes strict, dated, and hindering practice. But with respect to the original artist, I also understand the flip side. Granted, I had no clue the story behind The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony (which I always love to listen to when on a roadtrip). And I understand the evolution of a song and where it could be argued it is derived from, we all know the connection baseline connection between Under Pressure (another personal favorite) and Ice Ice Baby. I honestly think it comes down to how the song is being re-purposed and does it follow the 4 factors that Columbia University laid out for fair use.
Factor 1: The Purpose and Character of the Use
Factor 2: The Nature of the Copyrighted Work
Factor 3: The Amount or Substantiality of the Portion Used
Factor 4: The Effect of the Use on the Potential Market for or Value of the Work
As we look at more legal considerations in the digital environment, the issue of net neutrality and protecting basic human rights to access public information and to speak freely come into play. Something that has stuck with me from earlier this semester was how Wikipedia played out and became a non-profit. Aside from just loving this idea in general, the focus on having a site that is for public good and that knowledge should be available to everyone is so important. And while I can understand the need for intellectual property laws, I can’t get on board with negating net neutrality. If Trump does follow through with his attack on this, what I consider to be a human right, there is a whole new discussion to have here. But then again, I think the whole Trump administration is just a bunch of monkey business (sorry, I couldn’t resist).