YouTube Killed the Video Star… Or Did It?

November 9, 2010 at 11:57 pm (Class Post, Copyright, eBooks, EMAC 6300, Internet, Remix, Technology, YouTube)

You’ve heard the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles, right?

Well as I watched Rip: A Remix Manifesto and especially when I started reading Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins, I thought of this classic rock song. I then started thinking about how I could change up the lyrics to reflect our current media circumstances (hence the blog post title; I know I should leave the song parodying to SNL). I then thought of the following Sprint commercial:

I was surprised, as I continued reading, that what I had cleverly thought of wasn’t really true when I read this in Convergence Culture:

Printed words did not kill spoken words. Cinema did not kill theater. Television did not kill radio. Each old medium was forced to coexist with the emerging media. That’s why convergence seems more plausible as a way of understanding the past several decades of media change than the old digital revolution paradigm was. Old media are not being displaced. Rather, their functions and status are shifted by the introduction of new technologies.

For the most part, I agree. At the moment, we still have the printed word and spoken word, cinema and theater, TV and radio, and all of these have had to transition and transform into our more digitized and internet-focused way of life. In a way the different media have had to take on the forms of each other and in turn conform to the digital world, but they are still here. However, since we can’t predict the future, I’m hesitant to say that these “old media” will still be around, or at least not in the way we think of them, although we’ll probably still call it the same.

Here’s what I mean. Take books for example. With the emergence of eReaders and eBooks, in the future we might not have actual printed words any more. Granted we’ll probably still call it that, just like we call files and folders on a computer after the actual paper files and folders. Radio is branching more and more on the internet, and we might not have actual radios with antennas in which to pick up the various radio stations or broadcasts anymore, but we’ll still call it radio anyway.

Much like I mentioned in my last post, I think the shift that we see happening, that Jenkins describes as this convergence, is not where one form will beat out another one or “kill” it, but instead the new and the old will merge and create a hybrid media that combines both old and new in this entirely different way; new will be old remixed. I think the move towards a hybrid media in our culture is evident in the fact that there is a move towards hybrid cars, the popularity of remixes, mashups and the like, and the combination of various forms of media into something like our smartphone.

The only thing stopping this new hybrid media is the past, as explained by Rip: A Remix Manifesto, and those that are part of this past that want to control this new future.

Or as I like to call them: The Man. Let’s stick it to him!


Permalink 2 Comments

© is for Copyright

October 20, 2010 at 12:00 am (Class Post, Copyright, EMAC 6300, Internet, Remix, Technology, YouTube)

This week’s reading, Information Feudalism by Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite and the video Steal This Film, covered a lot of topics in relation to copyright, intellectual property, patents, knowledge and information, and much more. Because there was so much, I kind of want to focus the discussion on copyright when it comes to remixing either music or video. Thanks to the internet, remixes and mashups are everywhere. Just the other day I heard on the radio what I thought was going to be “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles, but it turned out to be “Check It Out” by Nicki Minaj. I’m sure you guys can think of plenty of other examples, but let’s focus on remixing in terms of copyright. The following interview of Lawrence Lessig by Stephen Colbert is where I’d like to start (you’ll have to click the link):

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Lawrence Lessig
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election March to Keep Fear Alive

Of course, immediately after this interview, several people remixed it to a “great dance beat” and made Stephen upset, causing him to post his own remix.

In the interview, there were a couple points that I wanted to bring up that our reading and Steal This Film mention as well. The first is the argument that remixing copyrighted material is stealing. In Information Feudalism, Drahos and Braithwaite talk about how copyright “was a leaky system. People could make use of bits of copyright information for free claiming that it was fair dealing, that the information was too insubstantial to merit protection or that what was being used was the idea and not the expression (copyright protects expression and not ideas)” (p.58). In a sense, the claim of fair use is still in place today with people claiming fair use for parodies and educational purposes. But, do remixes count as part of that fair use? Should they be? Does it depend on what they are remixing, and if so how do you regulate that if you think it should be?

I remember when Google employed a new technology (Content I.D.) to YouTube a while back that automatically took down several parodies and spoofs that used the movie Downfall, sending thousands of people into an outrage that their works had been taken down when they clearly fell under the fair use act of parodying. Google has since apologized and put several back up, but it still brings up the issue about how to regulate and identify what is fair use and what isn’t.

Both Steal This Film and Information Feudalism make the point that it is inherent in human nature to share and create. Steal This Film points out that the internet, peer-to-peer file sharing sites, and new technologies create a shift of consumers to creators, having them become masters of their own content. The film included interviews of several artists and remixers that were happy to have others take their work and create something new and to collaborate with them, saying that sharing is like breathing and is at the heart of existence. Drahos and Braithwaite point out that “people to a large extent are naturally disposed to create” (p. 211). Where it gets tricky is in the “supporting and rewarding [of] such work” (p. 211), which Drahos and Braithwaite claim that granting intellectual property ownership is not the most significant way to grant this support or reward.

This is the second point in the Lessig-Colbert interview that is up for debate. Stephen Colbert claims that by his “remixing” of Lessig’s book he profits from it and that’s ok, but that no one can take his work and remix it without his permission. A remix is an act of creating something new (that then gets shared with others), which will happen because it is what we as humans are wont to do. But, it is when the remix benefits someone else that is not the original copyright owner that people or artists get upset because they are not being acknowledged or paid for their original work. This leads me to wonder, is remixing okay if the remixer does not get any benefits or credits the people whose work he used? Is it the sudden shift of the remixer benefiting, like receiving money from downloads of it perhaps, that then makes it unfair?

I think this really depends on what side of the fence you’re on or what part you play in the issue. For example, whenever I’m in my car and I’m driving in a parking lot at a mall or a shopping center of some kind, I always get irritated with the pedestrians that take forever walking to their car, or crossing the street, or that walk down the middle of the lane. However, if I’m not in my car and I’m the pedestrian, my mindset changes, and I take my time because I think in my head, “I have the right of way, and I don’t care about you, stupid car! Deal with it!” The same applies for the remixing. If I’m the person remixing (or perhaps even the consumer of the remix?), I would think that what I was creating was something new that I did so that people will enjoy it (or as a consumer, just to enjoy the creative take on the original). But, if I’m the original artist and had learned that someone took my work and used it in their own, I think I would be upset. I would want some kind of acknowledgment or royalty perhaps or at least permission from that person to be able to use it. Wouldn’t you?

Hopefully, we’ll get into this discussion a little more in class, because I’m curious to hear what your opinions are on remixing, copyright, and the roles of the original artist vs. the remixer. We’ll be watching this remixed video/song in class to help us get the discussion (and our groove) going. (I would like to point out, this remix is available for download for free here.)

Oh, also there will be cookies. (You know “C” is for cookie, too.) So, see you in class!


To sum up what we discussed in class:

  • There is a difference between remixing and sampling (as explained in class). Is remixing stealing? Is sampling?
  • Does attribution excuse music sampling/remixing? Is it enough?
  • If copyright laws should be changed, how should we change them? Should we have them at all or where do we make the distinction between different forms of media?
  • Is it the moment that a remixer receives money from his use of others’ works that suddenly makes it not okay to use them?
  • Sadly, it all comes back to money and who gets recognition/credit/royalty when it comes to remixing and the use of original work (and sometimes it’s not even the original artists, it’s the distribution/record company). The legislation will follow the money, and in that case, smaller, lesser known artists will get lost.
  • Where you stand on the issue changes what you think is proper: the original artist vs. the remixer.
  • Here is the link to the cookie recipe for those that wanted it.

Permalink 4 Comments

YouTube–Not Just for Entertainment

September 21, 2010 at 10:49 pm (Class Post, EMAC 6300, Technology, YouTube)

As I read this week’s reading, specifically that of “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Walter Benjamin, one part that Benjamin spoke about really jumped out at me. He talks about how “it is inherent in the technique of the film… that everybody who witnesses its accomplishments is somewhat of an expert…. [T]he newsreel offers everyone the opportunity to rise from passer-by to movie extra.” As I read about how film has made it possible for man to become “part of a work of art” as opposed to an observer of it, I couldn’t help but think of YouTube. Isn’t that the reason why YouTube was made in the first place? To allow you, the common everyman, to “broadcast yourself” without having to go through the bureaucracy that is the corporate television business; to rise from quiet observer to a YouTube sensation.

There’s lots of things that are cool about YouTube. You can watch old movies/TV show clips (and if you’re lucky in their entirety in several parts), hilarious commercials, great memes, they even have interactive videos (That one was shared with me by a friend in honor of the Glee premiere tonight! Yes, I admit it, I’m a Gleek.). But, I don’t want to talk about those things though (or the time that YouTube saved my church choir when our pianist didn’t show up for practice and we found the piano accompaniment there). Instead, I want to talk about how people have taken their YouTube videos to be more than just for entertainment.

My siblings watch YouTube ALL the time. No, seriously. As soon as they are done with their homework, they go on YouTube and just watch clip after clip. My little sister (who’s 12)  is usually the one who watches the funny videos, but my little brother (who’s 14), along with the funny videos, also watches informational/instructional videos. Sometimes he seeks out specific things to learn about and other times it’s random. For example, a year or so ago he saved a family friend from having to call a locksmith to open an old family chest that she had lost the key to because he had seen a video on YouTube on how to make a bump key (don’t ask me why he had watched this video in the first place).

Recently, my brother has decided that he wanted to learn how to play the ukulele that my parents bought him as a souvenir from Hawaii. Did he ask my parents for expensive lessons or want a 30 dollar instructional DVD? Of course not! He took to YouTube and found all the instruction videos he could on how to play. There’s ones on how to play specific songs (like Soul Sister by Train), and then there’s general ukulele beginner lessons. My brother decided to go the specific song route, and being a fan of Bruddah Iz, he picked White Sandy Beach to learn. He printed out the lyrics and chords and watched the following video:

After some practice, this is the end result: *Note: My brother wanted me to let you all know he’s not much of a singer, so don’t judge him on that.

How cool is that? All from watching YouTube videos! I’m curious about what this means in terms of education. Did you hear that YouTube just recently started dabling in live streaming videos? Will we start incorporating more YouTube instruction videos in the classroom? (Kevin, I hope I get a response from you on that one.) Will live streaming YouTube videos make education and learning more accessible to those that are incapable of sitting in a classroom? There’s already college level lectures available through iTunes U, who’s to say those lectures can’t be live on YouTube? I’m interested to see where YouTube takes this new venture and see how people will use it. Granted there’s a lot of crap out there, but there’s also some great stuff too. In fact, I think I’m going to learn how to do this.

Permalink 4 Comments