Q1. Do you think it is possible to assign different media forms their own levels of copyright restriction?
In Lessig’s (2008) age of read-write culture, where remix is prevalent and is done by almost everyone from school children to older users, whether legal or not. Just like file sharing, copyright laws have been broken for any number of reasons. Personally speaking, it is with rose-coloured glasses that I answer the question. I think it should be possible for different media to obtain its own copyright to avoid infringing on any laws.
In 2018, Congress will be reviewing the copyright law for extension (Lee, 2013). While the situation looks grim on one side, that is the side that suggests works by big corporation such as Disney, should be in the public domain, Disney themselves it seems would like the copyright to extend indefinitely for obvious reasons: mainly, money. The argument here is that Walt Disney now long dead cannot possibly benefit further by this law, but if these works (such as Steamboat Willy) were available to the public, they would inspire others to create new and innovative ideas while remixing with the old (Lessig 2008).
For this reason, even though I’m a big believer in creators receiving remuneration for their hard work, this should cease when the creator is long dead. For the music industry, sampling is a very common, very obvious practice and so should have copyright laws that address that (DiCola, 2014). These should vary depending on the artist and their works. For example if any artist writes all their own music, they should be compensated differently to an artist who uses other people’s work to remix with their own.
For books, again, the copyright laws should address the different types of books and other literature that is created by authors who work on their own, with others, who create their own concepts or borrow other’s. Conversely, the Copyright Act (1968) has a parallel importation restriction (PIR) which increases the prices of all books imported, including educational books for students (Murphy, 2013). A very different copyright law should be passed that minimises cost for learning, I believe. As Lessig (2008) suggests, learning comes from making meaning from the world around us, remixing concepts and creating something new.
Q2. How easy is it to define what is ‘remix’ and what is simply copying? What does remix need to involve in order for it to be sufficiently ‘new’: fundamental changes in form, in length, in meaning or something else? If you had to offer a legal boundary between a legitimate remix, and an authorised copy, could you?
Lessig (2008 p 76) describes remix as the manipulating of other concepts and adding my own to create something new, while copying, is simply taking someone else’s work and passing it off as my own. I believe this is the key, where a new concept is created from my appropriation, in other words the meaning I have made from the ideas of others so that I may learn further. I liken this to when I am writing essays, some times I paraphrase points made by authors of articles or essays in the field of which I am studying, but sometimes when the message needs to be clear and explicit, I quote a sentence or two, because the way the author explains is much clearer. I realise this example may be used for music as well, where artists often sample other artist’s music because it has more meaning than words that are different yet convey the same message.
Q3. Do you think intention matters (and if so, how do you ‘prove’ the intent of a piece of media)?
According to Find Law Australia (“Do we have the right to freedom of speech in Australia?,” 2014), it appears that our freedom of political expression is at best “implied”. So while the video remix of Apple products and Hillary Clinton campaign speeches that Tryon (2011, p 243) describes in this reading are obviously political in nature, the fact that it is easily accessible by the public, makes the intent clear: in America, people have gotten away with deformation of character under the banner of “Fair Use”. As I have learned in this unit, there is a difference between America’s fair use and Australia’s fair dealing. This is obviously a concept I need to muster, as these copyright laws will affect the way my RWMC is produced.
Intent, I believe has to be obvious. But there’s difficulty in that what is obvious to one person is obscure to the next. Tryon (2011, p 244) further explains that what is needed is discourse and although referring to political videos, this could be taken to any media, that it is vital to recognize how media is consumed, by whom and for what purpose.
DiCola, P. (2014). An Economic View of Legal Restrictions on Musical Borrowing and Appropriation. Technology | Academics | Policy. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://www.techpolicy.com/Articles/Economic-View-of-Legal-Restrictions-on-Musical-Bor.aspx
Do we have the right to freedom of speech in Australia? (2014). Find Law Australia. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://www.findlaw.com.au/articles/4529/do-we-have-the-right-to-freedom-of-speech-in-austr.aspx
Lee, T. B. (2013, October 25). 15 years ago, Congress kept Mickey Mouse out of the public domain. Will they do it again? Washington Post, The Switch. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/10/25/15-years-ago-congress-kept-mickey-mouse-out-of-the-public-domain-will-they-do-it-again/
Lessig, L. (2008). RW, Revived. In Remix – Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (pp. 51-83). Bloomsbury Academic.
Murphy, T. (2013, April 26). Impact of Parallel Import Restrictions on Book Prices. Menzies House. Retrieved January 30, 2014, from http://www.menzieshouse.com.au/2013/04/impact-of-parallel-import-restrictions-on-book-prices.html
Tryon, C. (2011). Representing the presidency: Viral videos, intertextuality, and political participation. In M. Kackman, M. Binfield, M. T. Payne, A. Perlman, & B. Sebok (Eds.), Flow TV: Television in the Age of Media Convergence (pp. 242-258). London and New York: Routledge.