Is it Fair?

There are a few definitions and factors of fair use that cam up in in the articles for this week that I found to be quite interesting.

1) Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some


2) Fair use is a right, not a mere privilege

3) Fair use is flexible; it is not uncertain or unreliable.

Since fair use is a flexible right it makes it difficult to know which side of the line you fall. What I’ve gathered is that fair use is established when a creative twist is implemented. It’s almost like paraphrasing work so you don’t have to directly site it.

More directly, according to the U.S Copyright Office there are four factors in determining whether or not a particular use is fair.

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

In the Hollywood Reporter article on South Park, the show was being sued for copyright infringement for their reenactment of the YouTube sensation What What (in the butt).

“The judge applied the four factor test of “fair use” and determined that a clip that lasts less than a minute in a 25-minute episode wasn’t terribly substantial and wouldn’t ruin Brownmark’s market enjoyment of its video.”

Some people said that it was stealing, but since it was a parody it was fair. Thus proving that since it was a new creative collaboration it was fine.

I’ve always known that the Disney movies were based on the Brothers Grimm, but have you ever thought that it was a problem, that Disney was stealing that content?  I haven’t. I also think that if someone had a problem with it they wouldn’t fight a monster company like Disney.

“Thus, even though the things that Disney took–or more generally, the things taken by anyone exercising Walt Disney creativity–are valuable, our tradition does not treat those takings as wrong. Some things remain free for the taking within a free culture, and that freedom is good.” So, even though it was taken, they had good intentions and their new creative thinking made it fair. If you watch a Disney and compare it the Brothers Grimm there won’t be too many similarities just because of how dark the Brothers Grimm is.

There is a continued cycle of old trends coming back as new. This goes for renditions of songs and movies. When a company/ singer is thinking about making a new version they should keep theses questions in mind:

“1) Was the material taken appropriate in kind and amount, considering the nature of the copyrighted work and of the use?

2) Did the unlicensed use “transform” the material taken from the copyrighted work by using it for a different purpose than that of the original, or did it just repeat the work for the same intent and value as the original?

If the answers to these two questions are “yes,” a court is likely to find a use fair. Because that is true, such a use is unlikely to be challenged in the first place.”

Do you think that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams should have to pay a combined amount of $7.4 million? It may be true that Blurred lines is similar to Marvin Gaye’s song, but it is partially public domain and Blurred was creatively different. Some people even say that they don’t hear any similarities, is the case fair or not?

Fair use is very important when it come to copyright infringement. It could make or break someone. Fair use is difficult since it is flexible and can be presented differently in one case to the other. Do you think fair use should have more strict guideline? What would those look like? do you think that since all of our material is automatically copyrighted someone should need permission before making a mash-up, etc.?  If there were more guideline what the consequences in media look like?


Copyright Nation

Have you ever scanned the first couple of pages of a book, scrolled down to the bottom of a website, or browsed the label on a container and seen a capital ‘C’ incased in a circle. That is a copyright symbol, they are everywhere. A copyright is an exclusive right given legally to the creator of that work for a certain amount of time (usually the life span of the creator plus 70 years). According to U.S Code 17 there are eight groups of copyrightable works (such as pictorial, computer programs, architectural works, etc.), but it does not extend to ideas, titles, or facts.


Nowadays the symbol is no longer necessary. If the idea came from their mind onto a physical object (written on paper or carved into stone) it is considered their property. And any use of this property without the creator’s permission is grounds for copyright infringement. The Copyright Overview by Purdue University states that the penalty for copyright infringement is hefty, anywhere from a $200-150,000 per each stolen work and/or jail time.

Copyright laws are meant to protect the creator and promote creativity and learning. Initially, the laws protected the creator from being bombarded with variations of their idea. Ultimately allowing them time to better their creation without the added pressure of others stealing their work. After that time period, the work was given back to the public domain. But now corporations have changed copyright laws to “protect” their work indefinitely.


Some argue that over the last couple of decades these laws have been used less to protect the creators and more to line the pockets of the companies who own the rights of the work like in the film RiP: A Remix Manifesto. Which alienates the public domain from being involved in the creative process of building upon ideas. And in Free Culture’s Beginnings it states that, copyright power has grown dramatically in a short period of time, as the technologies of distribution and creation have changed and as lobbyists have pushed for more control by copyright holders”. Can you think of any examples of this?

Still, there are others who agree with Mark Helprin in A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn’t Its Copyright? when he states, “no good case exists for the inequality of real and intellectual property”, reasoning that it should always belong to the person who created it.

What side do you fall on? I think there is a middle ground. Everything is a copy of a copy, this is how we progress as a people, by improving upon what came before us. Without access to the past we cannot create a prosperous future. Do you agree?

Do you think we a nation obsessed with copyright laws? debate_about_copyright_1570945

How File Sharing Actually Benefits the Entertainment Industry

When thinking about topics like piracy and file sharing the first thing that comes to mind is that they are illegal. While it is true that obtaining music illegally and sharing music illegally is not ok, it is also true that it has positively affected the entertainment industry in terms of sales. First, lets define what these terms are.


Piracy is the act of illegally downloading some form of digital entertainment without paying for it. It could be music, movies, or even books. According to RIAA examples of piracy include making a MP3 copy of a song you bought, but then putting that copy on the internet for anyone to download it, joining a file-sharing network and downloading unauthorized copies of copyrighted music for free, and (one of the most common) making a copy of an album you bought and giving it to your friend.


File sharing goes hand in hand with piracy. It is the practice of transmitting files from one computer to another over a network (the internet), but it is not always illegal. According to Chapter 4. “Piracy” there are many kinds of file sharing. The first type are “users who download instead of purchasing.” The second type are those who use file sharing just to sample songs before buying them. The third type are those who use it to download copyrighted content that is either no longer sold or too high in cost to purchase. The last type use it to download content that is not copyrighted or has been given permission to download for free.

Now, lets bring back up the initial issue. Is piracy and file-sharing negatively effecting the entertainment industry?

According to Lily Rothman on Time Magazine a recent study by Luis Aguiar and Bertin Martins found that “illegal music downloads essentially had no effect on the number of legal music downloads.” They also found that the majority of the music that was illegally downloaded by those in the study still wouldn’t have purchased that music if illegal downloading sites weren’t available. What this essentially means is that the study found that the songs that were being illegally downloaded still wouldn’t have made any money if illegal downloading sites weren’t around. It kind of makes you think no harm, no foul, right?


According to Piracy isn’t killing the entertainment industry, scholars show by Ernesto on TorrentFreak, sites like SoundCloud and YouTube are actually having a positive effect on the entertainment industry in terms of promotion. People are using these sites to sample songs before they go out and purchase them. They may be getting a couple songs for free, but in the long run they are still making more money off of it than before file-sharing sites were around. Ernesto also explains that researchers have found that file-sharers are actually spending more money on entertainment than those who don’t.

What do you think? Do you feel that file-sharing in moderation could actually be a good thing or do you feel we should write it off altogether?  Keep in mind the question raised by Lily Rothman from Time Magazine: “If you went into a store to steal a candy bar and, in the process, found lots of other stuff you were willing to pay for, would that make it okay to steal the candy?” Does the one candy bar really matter in the grand scheme of things?

Who’s to blame for the piracy problem?

I remember when Napster first started. It was amazing. I could start downloading an entire album at night, and then in the morning, there it would be. A free album and all its glory. Napster changed the game for the music industry. People no longer had to go to the store to buy a CD. It was conveniently available from home, on demand, for free. Today, any song a person wants hear is available for free on the Internet. Who is responsible for the problem of piracy?

playing jazz guitar

Many argue that the problem of piracy is because people have become too stingy and too accustomed to getting things for free. NPR correspondent Emily White stated “I’ve only bought 15 CDs in my lifetime. Yet, my entire iTunes library exceeds 11,000 songs.” However, she also says if she were to lose her entire library “she would be able to rebuild fairly easily” and could just stream music from Spotify.

In an open letter to Emily White, David Lowry criticizes White’s take on getting free music. Lowry claims that people need to support musicians by purchasing their music directly from the artist. Lowry explains that the “free culture adherents” are really hurting musicians. However, the article by lily Rothman, she points out a study conducted by Luis Aguiar and Bertin Martins using Nielsen “clickstream” data, and released by the European Commission Joint Research Center found that “the majority of the music that is consumed illegally by the individuals in our sample would not have been purchased if illegal downloading websites were not available to them.” However, Rick Canes sees it differently in the article “Has music Piracy killed the “Recording Artist.” Canes believes that due to piracy, artists cannot make great music anymore. Their focused has changed from making a great album to touring. Yet, I wonder, “can’t they do both?”

music mixer

Poor government regulation isn’t to blame for piracy either. The Internet is largely unregulated and this isn’t China. It would take billions of dollars to regulate piracy- about the same amount record labels claim they have been losing. However, an article from Freakonomics says this “Unlike stealing a car, copying a song doesn’t necessarily inflict a tangible loss on another. Estimating that loss requires counterfactual assumptions about what the world would have been like if the piracy had never happened — and, no surprise, those most affected tend to assume the worst.” However, Lawrence Lessig thinks that “changes in the law, at least in the interim” need to occur in order to “[secure] income to artists while we allow the market to secure the most efficient way to promote and distribute content.

Technology has changed drastically since Napster and the days of illegal file sharing. Yes, some people do still illegally download music, but I think it is a slowing trend. Why would I download thousands of songs on my computer, taking up large amounts of space, when I could just stream them off of Spotify? I don’t even own an iPod anymore. If I want to hear a song, I can play it instantly and legally. It costs me $4.99 per month and I don’t have the hassle of torrents and sketchy files. I am also not tethered to my computer. While Lowry and White both admit that Spotify doesn’t pay artists very much per play. That is something that needs to be worked out between the artists and Spotify.

Music player playing vinyl with glow lines comming from the need

I don’t feel bad when I pay to stream music and a lot of musicians, like David Grohl support music streaming services. Technology has changed. Artists don’t make money off of album sales anymore and both record labels and musicians need to stop whining and get over it. So you can’t make one record, live off the royalties and do nothing for the rest of your life, boo-hoo. Isn’t the point of making an album and being a musician to play music? Tour, play shows around the country. If your music is good, people will come to your shows. They may even gasp-pay more for tickets because they enjoy your music.

Do you think that piracy is still a huge problem or is it a dying fad? Do you feel bad for recording artists who can no longer make a living off of album sales alone? Do you use torrent sites to illegally download music or have you switched to streaming?

Aye, Matey…Don’t be a Pirate!

In a world of technology, things are easily accessible at our fingertips. With such easy access music, pictures, videos and other forms of media can be easily pirated. Piracy is defined as the unauthorized use of someone else’s invention ( Piracy can lead to copyright infringement which is the illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted inventions without permission for the inventor ( Most people might believe that the Internet is an open industry, but in reality artist and inventors deserve the credit that comes from their work.

Piracy vs. Copywrite Infringment
Piracy vs. Copywrite Infringment


Rick Carne’s article Has Music Piracy Killed the ‘Recording Artist’?, gives us a view of music industry and online music piracy related to the music industry in the 60s when there was no Internet. Carne’s article says that since the Beatles had no worries about people stealing their music they were able to focus more on music writing alone rather than selling other products to make up for lost profit. Now, bands and artists have to create unique videos, sell tshirts and tour more of the time to make up for the loss of profit due to illegal downloading. On the contrary, Lily Rothman’s article Music Downloads Not Hurting Industry, Study Claims says that the amount of illegal downloads that happen do not influence the amount of legal downloads when it comes to music. Studies show that websites that allow access to illegal downloading actually boost legal downloading.

In my opinion, downloading music illegally is just plain wrong. You should take somebody’s creative inventions for free. I find the argument that illegal downloading actual boosts legal downloading unbelievable. It seems like it would be a cascading effect of one person doing it and then another. I, however, do not think that artists suffer due to illegal downloads. It seems like music artists have an endless income. Even retired or one-hit wonder bands seem to still make thousands of dollars a day. This may be due to them having other sources of income such as concert tickets, tshirts, perfume/cologne sales and clothing lines. Do I think that this has killed the ‘Recording Artist’? Yes. The music industry will never be the same. Not with technology. Artists write, sing and record differently than they did back in the 60s. Let’s be honest, nobody can replace the Beatles. Nobody.

You’re a pirate alright…


So, matey, I ask that you do not be a pirate. You would not want somebody taking credit for something you worked so hard to create. Do you think that downloading music illegally is killing the music industry? How do you personally feel about illegal downloading? Do you think the ‘Recording Artist’ is dead?

Crowdsourcing: What’s the Catch?

crowdsourcing-spigotSince the rise of the internet, we have seen many new developments in all kinds of areas, such as social life and even big business. Essentially, the internet creates a network that makes it possible to connect with people all over the world, but there is a new age in the internet expands business possibilities to a whole new realm. Until the rise of the internet, businesses had to look to their staff to solve problems, produce ideas and create products. With the dawn of this new age however, businesses can release their problems to the world’s thinkers online and resolve issues faster than ever before. In addition, people can join together in various online collectives to form glorious online tools such as Wikipedia. So, how is this possible? These new online ideas are what is now known as crowdsourcing and participatory culture. To sum it all up in one simple manner:


There is also a fun and entertaining side to this new age in the internet that I personally enjoy a lot and I’m sure many of you do as well: Enter the hilarious world of memes and viral videos.

Memes and viral videos represent participatory because these things are being created by the people, for the people and not just by producers anymore. We see regularly every day people who happen to catch a hilarious moment on video “go viral” overnight. We now even see shows revolving around these videos such as “Ridiculousness” on MTV and as Jeff Howe shows us in his article The Rise of Crowdsurfing, shows such as these are significantly cheaper to produce thanks to the crowd producing endless amounts of videos.

So if this all seems like an awesome use of the internet, why is it debated on whether it is a good thing or not? While big business and even individuals benefit from the new age on the internet, there are also myths to crowdsourcing as well as pitfalls. For example, as Jeff Howe discusses in his article, there are business owners who fall victim. Enter Claudia Minashe. Claudie needed stock photos for a medical project coming up. After being quoted $600 by Mark Hamel, a professional stock photographer, for just 4 stock photos, she discovered iStockphoto, a stock photo website that sells stock photos for as low as just $1! Claudia made the obvious choice and saved money where she could, but in turn business owners like Hamel suffer a great loss. Many things that were once charged for, are now free or cost significantly less thanks to crowdsourcing and as Nicholar Carr tells us, “Free trumps quality all the time.”

There is also great myth to crowdsourcing, according to Dan Woods of Forbes. Woods explains to us that “…a problem is broadcast to a large number of people with varying expertise. Then individuals motivated by obsession, competition, money or all three apply their individual talent to creating a solution.” So there it is, another aspect to crowdsourcing. Many of these online problem solvers are everyday people, which can be viewed as good or problematic. Also, these people are out to solve these problems or get involved in these business like iStockphoto to make a profit with their skills in their free time. Further, he continues to show us that Wikipedia for example, may appear to be crowd-created,  but it’s founder Jimmy Wales admitted “The vast majority (of entries) are the product of a motivated individual” and are later on corrected and improved by others. Furthermore, Chris Wilson shows us in The Wisdom of the Chaperone, that “about 1% of Wikipedia users are responsible for about half of the site’s edits” and that there are also online bots that monitor what is posted for errors, vandalism and obscene posts to ensure the site remains credible- Hence the myth of the crowd. While it may be true that the resolutions and works come out of a crowd, they aren’t produced by the crowd directly, but individuals rather.

After this display of benefits and downfalls, do you think that crowdsourcing benefits outweigh the fact that many jobs are being “crowdsourced?” Also, do you think that there is a true “myth of the crowd,” or are these efforts truly the commune that they appear to be?

Have you felt inspired lately?

Anyone every stop and think where we would be without technology?  How about how far we have become with technology? Howard Rheingold shares his views on how mankind first started out and extends into how with technology we are going into an era where it could potentially be too fast.  One of the greatest aspects he pointed out though is how internet is an enabling technology.  This “enabling technology” has created many possibilities for us in the technology world, but Howard Rheingold points out how our everyday desktop/PCs are printing presses, broadcasting stations, a community, a market place, etc.  The power is untethering and soon humans will be holding/carrying computers linked to speeds faster than what broadband currently is.  Examples of this untethering technology would be Wikipedia, bit torrent, etc.  Wikipedia is a great example of crowdsourcing.  Crowdsourcing is possible as it is the work of a group of people, whether they are volunteers or not, working towards a common goal.  This goal could just simply be putting facts online to be available for others or it could be taken as work that is outsourced to a group of people.  No longer do we live in a world where only a small group of people can handle a task.  With technology, we can outsource our needs to crowds of people at a fraction of the cost.


Photo Credit

Wikipedia used thousands of volunteers to create a free encyclopedia.  However lately, within the past couple years, Wikipedia has made a strong movement to ensure the data given is factual.  Processes involve fact checking along with limiting the amount of editing that can be done on a topic.  This strengthening in their system helps increase reliability of collective efforts from a large group of people.   This is an example of crowdsourcing.

A lot of advantages has happened due to this movement.  In the wired article, Claudia Menashe needed pictures of sick people for a kiosk.  Long story short, she found suitable pictures from an open source website, istockphoto.  The dilemma poised though is the freelancer she originally lined up for photos was no longer needed.  Harmel (the freelancer) has seen a steady decline in his income due to sites like istockphoto.  It is an unfortunate situation for Harmel, but I among many others have used similar sites to achieve similar goals.  The days of paying someone for non-personalized photos will soon be extinct.


Photo Credit

Jean Burgess brings up many points in her article. One of the topics are “meme”.  I am sure we all are familiar with what a meme is, but has anyone realized how catchy some are?  Due to this trend, there are businesses out there that have become more popular due to random meme created by someone that is not affiliated with the business.  Random people have become famous due to certain meme as well.  Another example from Jean Burgess is “chocolate rain”.  The original work had become modified and far exceeded the original intentions.  These modified versions are mash-ups, parodies, remixes.  We are in a time where technology has allowed us to take media into our own hands and broadcast them out in many ways. People are able to modify, archive, remix etc.   These actions fall under as participatory cultures.  Examples could include groups of gamers, even us bloggers.  Anyone ever stop and notice how some commercials now are actually personal videos you have seen on YouTube? This element of the technology world has inspired people to do work they never imagined they would be doing. This technology media movement has allowed marketing to skyrocket.

Society as a whole has benefited from this movement as it sees things in ways never imagined before, it inspires people to be creative and express themselves and certain messages or idea are being seen from many people that never probably would have viewed it before.  People, among businesses, have become more aware due to the abilities of collaboration or even remixes or original work.  Have you fallen into such acts?  Have you ever had to outsource something and then found somewhere else online to be cheaper and even better work just to find out it’s a collaboration? What about searching for something and finding knock offs of the original?