Archive for February, 2011


Getting Past “Either/Or”

In class, we presented the debate of copyright versus creative freedom in an exclusive model. My group debated that yes, copyright limits creative freedom. In the complete opposite approach, both sides can be both right and or wrong.

Digital Media Ethics says, “This ability to think beyond the choices initially presented to us is not only a mark of critical and independent thinking- one that helps us see the possibilities of more than one claim being true; it may also help us break through what logicians rightly call “false dichotomies.” Such dichotomies are false precisely because they exclude options that should be considered.”

In the argument of copyrighting limits creative freedom, both sides are both right and or wrong. To begin, different countries hold different views of ethics. What may be right and accepted in the United States, could be totally opposite in China or elsewhere. Who is to say that we are right and they are wrong? For example (given in DME), in Thailand a gift of a nicely photocopied version of an important book in philosophy of technology breaks copyright laws in the United States. However, in Thailand the gift is a way of expressing the highest respect for the work of the author. The United States holds a different view that the work was stolen and must not be produced as such. Neither Thailand nor the United States are wrong. Both are right because they represent two different cultures that are allowed to live by their own set of rules and ethics.

Another side to the issue, copyrighting encourages and discourages remixing. Both encouraging and discouraging remixing can both, once again, be right on both sides. Discouraging remixing allows for new creative freedom that is not dependent on what is already creative. It promotes originality and changes the artist to create something fresh, new, different and out of the ordinary. How can this motivation be wrong? On the other hand, encouraging remixing gives the artist an unlimited source of media and material to create something new, but in a different newness. The artist takes something that is already created to modify and perfect it or create a new media with the old to enhance a new art form and expression.

If we focus on the right or wrong exclusively, we miss the point that two things can be right or wrong at the same time. With an inclusive view, we are able to understand more options and listen to the other side of the argument more openly. It challenges our thinking that we have to be “right” and the other is “wrong.” Submitting to both sides allows us to respect other cultures, norms and ethics freely with the mindset that we could be wrong, too. We won’t ever reach a middle ground or compromise without respect and understanding of the other side.

For more information about the current United States copyright laws, check out New Media Rights.

Issues on remixing can be both right and wrong. Here Girltalk uses remixing to express his own creativity, while in the image below, creative expression is utilized with no other forms of media.

Neither way of creating music is wrong; the main point is expression.

Cairo’s Facebook Flat showed use of new technology and social media in a new light- A way of moving towards a revolution and expressing political unrest.

The protesters are framed as media citizens and technologically savvy. Risking their lives to post protester testimonies and even protesting against their family’s wishes, technology encourages them to push the envelope in a result of their president resigning on Friday.The protesters in Egypt are cosmopolitians, citizens of the world. They are indulging in new technologies and using them to their advantage. In this case, Egyptians are using technology as a tool to become involved with government and political issues. As cosmopolitians, Egyptians are more familiar with our technology and utilize it, finding the courage to demand what they want for their countries sake. One must remember that technology of online communication embeds and fosters the specific cultural values and communicative preferences of their designers.

Twitter and Facebook were designed by Americans who reflect Western values, norms and beliefs. This is turn runs the risk of cultural imperialism, but for the Egyptians, new technologies are cultural hybridization. We aren’t pushing our culture on them because they are wanting it and using it. The protesters interviewed are young. High school to college aged. Young people anywhere in the world are influenced by new technologies the most because they adapt the easily to them and learn how to use them quicker.

New technologies broaden the perspectives of many. Our culture’s freedom of speech is somewhat an influence on theirs. Posting videos and opinions on social media confirms to others that they are not alone in feelings of political unrest. New technologies change how we think because of an universal influence. Besides social networking, satellites also show the power of acting on the desire of change. Witnessing the results of protests and unrest plants the seed in viewers that if change can happen there, it can happen here.

Dean Lawrence Pintak of Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication discusses the influences of satellite television in Egypt and the Middle East here Satellite TV Most Responsible for Middle East Upheaval — Not Social Media.

Egyptian Protesters Celebrate the Resigning of their President

Assignment 4: Movie Post

In “Guarding the Family Silver” and “RiP! A Remix Manifesto,” both films discuss copyrighting and the issues associated with it. You can’t watch either of these videos without discussing ethics. Copyright is an issue that we are all familiar with because of how common it is to break copyright laws.

Mona, a popular New Zealand singer, was unable to use her name while touring in Germany. Her own name was already copyrighted and she apparently was using it without permission. The Maori culture in New Zealand, contributes to new designs and marketing in other countries. In the United States, Legos used Maori words in Bionicle; Play Station used Maori in new games with misrepresentation, such as placing a Maori’s woman tattoo on the main character chins, who is a man. Even Ford Motors, incorporated Maori designs into an F-150 truck, relating the truck to being fierce in battle to a Maori warrior (Serious Wheels).

In RiP! A Remix Manifesto, discusses the music and video industry and copyright issues involved. Girl Talk, a mashup of songs, would have to pay over $4 million to simply pay for permission basically to use other artists and recording label songs.

The ethics involved in Mona’s case deal with intellectual property laws, not just in her country, but around the world. How can someone own her name and prevent the use of her to use it?

As Burke puts it Digital Media Ethics, “…copyright is justified as an intrinsic right of the author, a necessary recognition of the author’s identity or personhood… the general rationale for copyright in this tradition regards creative work as an artifact that has been invested with some measure of the author’s personality or that reflects the author’s individuality. Out of respect for the autonomy and humanity of the author, that artifact deserves legal recognition.” ‘

I believe that despite the intellectual property rights of Mona’s name, Mona has every right to use it and publish it on a CD album. Her birth certificate already is the paperwork for her intellectual property rights to own it. Shouldn’t that be enough legal recognition? No corporation should have the right to sue her for using what is a part of her and taking away something that is not tangible.

Girl Talk, an illegal musician of mash-up music, combining as much music into one song as the musician can. This however, is illegal. Girl Talk mashes different genres and artists into one, such as in the song “Play Your Part (Part 1)”. This is ingenious, taking what has already been creating and reusing to create something fresh. Why can’t record labels feed into this niche market, something I’m sure that a surprisingly large amount of people would be interested in, I for sure would be.

Plagiarizing in essays and papers is easily avoided with citation, why can’t the record industry develop a system similar to this; the artist, record label, and anyone else involved with legal issues, would have credit and recognition for the work that was involved in the original creation. Attribution in my opinion is a solution. It’s not wrong if it’s attributed.

Legality in both videos, would decrease the issue. But I’m referring to changing the legality. Changing it to make the consumer happy instead of manipulating them.

 Give the Maori credit to using their designs and cultural references. Give Mona the right to use her name. Give the music and video consumers the right to mash-up and create something new.