Whenever the topic of copyright is discussed, the conversation seems to take off in multiple directions, seemingly without any concrete answers. Sure, the definition of copyright is self-explanatory: the rights given to the author of a production/creation (copy privileges). But as Kirby Ferguson states in Everything is a Remix, “creation requires influence, everything we make is a remix of existing creations, our lives and the lives of others.”
The contradiction of the expression/idea muddies the water, as copyright law does not protect ideas, yet an expression is an original thought (even a summarized thought from a previous text) that should be credited. Siva Vaidhyanathan offers an insightful cautionary look into the copyright laws, which clashes with Brett Gaylor’s liberal beliefs that encourages viewers of RIP! A Remix Manifesto to “take [RIP! A Remix Manifesto], rip it, remix it, help remake it.” We can also throw in Lawrence Lessig’s Creative Commons, a somewhat hopeful solution that allow for others to legally use and share others’ creations.
Yet when we hear stories in the past of the RIAA suing the average person (regardless of age or income) who downloads a song from the Internet or working with Internet providers to cut off their service if they search and download music, YouTube pulling down users remixed versions of music videos and mash ups and news coverage of record labels, publishing companies, musicians and writers being dragged into copyright lawsuits or accusations: such as singer Robin Thicke suing the family of Marvin Gaye for making ‘false’ copyright infringement claims (basing off the aforementioned idea/expression role), later Gaye’s family went after Thicke’s record label for not protecting the estate, Lessig’s recent fair use battle from using music during a class lecture that was eventually posted online, even chefs questioning the popularity of individuals taking “food selfies” and posting them on Instagram, claiming it takes away from their intellectual property, the average person who looks at these issues at a whole is left confused as to what the goal of copyright is and who is (or who should) be protected.
For this video mash up, I would like to re-examine the issues discussed within copyright (piracy, copyright infringement, and fair use laws) through visuals created by others, all remixed and filtered through my understanding. I am a little uncomfortable with making this the sole focus of a major project because there is so much gray area within the copyright and ownership rhetoric and being a student who appreciates direct answers and has always erred on the side of caution when discussing copyright, I am not sure I will find one or expect to find one as I go along. But I want to join in on these ongoing and complex conversations that take place not only in the courts but in classrooms, message boards and communities all over the world. I believe a video mash up is the perfect medium to explore these issues and the visuals will add a new layer to the intensity of this ongoing battle.