MAC Week 1 – Peer Comment

9 06 2013

To re-mix or not to re-mix? That is the question.

(MAC Reading Blog-Week 1)

original post

I wonder how many people actually realize that Disney’s The Lion King is Shakespeare’s Hamlet “remixed”.   In fact, Disney is known for fierce copyright infringement prevention (and legal enforcement) but few, in fact, very few of the Disney stories are completely original. (In fact, there are even some who question if Shakespeare was the original author of some of his works.) Yet, I would be devastated, and feel like my children’s lives were missing something, if they hadn’t grown up on these Disney stories, and I am pretty sure that Disney writers didn’t get Shakespeare’s approval.  Oh, wait, he’s been dead long enough (over 70 years past his lifetime) where it doesn’t legally matter.  But isn’t the idea the same?

THOROUGHLY enjoyed the discussion of copyright, the ever so tiny “freeing” that fair use might provide, and the potential opportunities of Creative Commons and its mission.  I really appreciated the presentation of the material because of the multiple considerations.

  •  A work must be “published” to fall under copyright protection because that means the author is through creating it
  • Copyright is not about usage, it is about permission
  • Improvisational material can not be covered by copyright
  • Copyright protects intellectual property thereby encouraging artists to create because they are protected
  • Copyright is “withhibiting” culture (LOVED the new word…is IT copyright protected?)
  • Copyright law undermines creative abilities
  • Impact of piracy is grossly overstated
  • Digital downloading “killed” the music business
  • Copyright law is about “turf wars”

The back and forth of the two sides was intellectually stimulating and exhausting.  One presenter would present his/her argument and my thought was, “exactly…that’s right.”  Then the next presenter would present the opposing side and my thought was, “exactly…that’s right.”  And I am NOT a fence rider by nature, but clearly both sides of the argument have valid points.

Enter the idea of Fair Use, or rather the ability to use material to teach, tell the news, share a parody or critical comment, providing the use is transformative, proportionate to purpose, credits the source, and has no commercial impact (after all, the REAL ones making the money in all of these conflicts does seem to be the attorneys.)

I appreciate that Fair Use is not a blank check of free use because it is not a “right” but rather a “legally defensible position,” but it does allow for increased opportunities to use creative material for the right purpose in the right amount.

And then there is Creative Commons.  Perhaps Larry Lessig describes it best as “BALANCE” because it allows for protection for the creator as well as opportunities to remix and make “new stuff from old stuff.”  I buy into the idea that Creative Commons returns common sense back to the argument by providing the right of creators to exercise their copyright more ways and more simply.  This gives their creation an opportunity to grow and evolve.

My Reply

I really like the idea of removing extremism on both sides by restoring common sense balance to it all.  I am excited to create again…and will resist the temptation to quote more Shakespeare.  (*smiles)

Hamlet, Shakespeare, 1676 - 0001

The tragedy of The Tragedy of Hamlet is that we are made to read it and not watch it.

That is really awesome, I have never made the connection between Hamlet and The Lion King.  Random deviation: Why do we spend so much time in English classes studying Shakespeare? I read a minimum of two works from Shakespeare each year of high school.  Not that I don’t think his work was good, but why read it? Why do we spend so much time reading a play? In the future will they read movie scripts in English class? Shouldn’t Shakespeare belong in Theatre Appreciation? End random tangent.

Disney will soon own the most of the media world. Right now this is a good thing. They have done a great job with their Marvel comic book titles.  I am really excited about them acquiring Lucasarts. George Lucas gave us an awesome creation in Star Wars, but he was both the best and worst thing to it. But what will happen when Disney owns everything and they no longer have any competition? We have seen this type of situation occur in the world of sports entertainment. Vince McMahon purchased WCW and ECW. Innovation in the industry was lost.

I also really enjoyed this week’s lessons on copyright and fair use. I think there is much fair about fair use.  I am glad we have been introduced to Creative Commons.  I really hated having fair use in teaching defined for me. Now I know what I am violating.  This is especially true with music. Many times I would mix in some good ole 90’s alternative, alternative music that was made by guys who listened to Metallica, Johnny Cash, Bo Marley, and Run DMC, and said I want to make a song like that. Modern alternative bands are bands that listened to Pearl Jam and Nirvana and tried to bottle it into a marketable product.  I would play this music as the soundtrack for media presentations. The students would be engaged. At the end, students would always say, “Mr. Sanzin, I loved that song!”. I became the MTV that my students needed, not the MTV they deserved (Hail BATMAN!!!).  So I feel like I’m in violation of copyright, but I actually just gave a free advertisement for a band that would not get any radio airplay in today’s music industry.




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