Posts Tagged ‘“Creative Commons”’

Who would have thought that information and ideas would become so important that it would shape a whole new economy. Given that products and created out of ideas the information becomes a commodity, and of course then the importance of owning the idea and being in control of how it is used is crucial to ensure the economic profit of it. This brings us to the issue of copyright which can be defined as “a bundle of intangible rights granted by statute to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions, whereby, for a limited period, the exclusive privilege is given to that person (or to any party to whom he or she transfers ownership) to make copies of the same for publication and sale.”

For a limited time? The first time someone was granted monopoly it was for 14 years, but today it is for 70 years after the author’s death or 120 years after creation if it is a corporate authorship (Mitew 2012), and in some cases e.g. videogames, it appears to be forever! Not so limited anymore.

It is hard to take a stand regarding copyrights. I see that a business/person wants to defend its rights to the commercial part of its own idea, but has it gone too far? When a company argues it has patent on the shape  “rectangular”, I feel we are moving towards a locked and limited society where we put a lid on ideas and enhance control.

With the Internet in mind I fear the war on copyright will exist forever unless they start censoring it, which is not an alternative. Billions of dollars are spent on court-cases to resolve disputes, a real waste of money really. From this perspective the idea of removing copyrights as a whole looks good, at least it would be interesting to see how it would work or if it WOULD work. But I guess I need to do a lot more investigation into that before I make a statement.

Meanwhile I suggest we take a look at the concept of “fair use” which ought to be less strict. Someone I know uploaded a video to YouTube and was asked to remove it because the music which was being played in the background (not provided by the creator of the video, but recorded randomly in the video) was copyrighted. If that is not an example of fair use, then I do not know what is.

Mitew, T 2012, Against the Law: Intellectual Property and Content Control, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 20 August.

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Introduction

Convergence is defined by Henry Jenkins (2006) as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences.” The ongoing process of convergence is creating a more participatory society for the user by changing the dynamics of media technologies and opens up for new business-models for the industries, like it did with the idea of Transmedia. New technologies enable us to take pictures, record sounds, write and film, and because of the Internet we also have the opportunity to upload, download, remix and share content that are already flowing online. We have become more like “prosumers” (Mitew 2012) instead of consumers.

The audiences’ future is looking bright, but convergence also carries negative baggage. With these new technologies we have started to act as we please online, and thus a fight for survival between audiences and industries has emerged. In this essay I argue that convergence has affected the audiences’ use of technologies and respect for copyrights, the audiences’ choice of technologies, and the emergence of censorship due to the audiences’ use of new technologies. I will use Flickr as an example of technology throughout the essay.

Copyrights

The Internet and our new media platforms enable us to create mash-ups and remixes of the content online, and currently we are actively taking advantage of this. At the same time the copyright rules we have today are very strict, and because of our increasing level of participation the Media Industry keep lobbying for even stricter laws. Many users are frustrated with the copyright regulations, because the things that they create are removed from the web and sometimes the user even gets sued, but we should not forget that copyrights are a necessity and that they are made to protect our intellectual properties as well from being used as others.

We should think twice about using copyrighted material and give the industry another reason to fight for their content, instead we should embrace the solutions that are already out there. Maybe the media industry softens as time goes by, and realises that we are only using their work for new ideas and creativity. It is actually interesting to see how some users complain on copyrights, but still their own work is guarded and cannot be shared or copied.

Trey Ratcliff (2012) says “a pure artist has two motivations: creation for the sake of creation and sharing for the sake of connecting with the world.” If we want to use other peoples’ content to create new material, we need to allow other people to borrow our content as well. By committing to Creative Commons (2012) anyone can use your content as long as they acknowledge you and ask for permission if it is for commercial purposes.

The photo sharing site Flickr has enabled Creative Commons licenses (Flickr 2012) for a long time and it shows how sharing and attribution can be practised. You can choose which images you want to keep as private and which ones you want to share with the public, this way you provide images and videos for other people to use freely. With an open sharing ideology your content can travel all over the world via other peoples’ blogs, newspapers and online albums, and can even result in actual revenue! Although there will always exist thieves we must believe that most people are honest and willing to pay for the work of others, and most importantly this must start with ourselves and our own ideologies.

Generative platforms

A media platform today is expected by the user to grant us constant and immediate access to the world. It must enable us to multitask, and provide a place where everything can be produced, stored and shared. If a media platform cannot follow up on all of these “minimums”, it will be replaced by a more innovative technology. These technologies have “become interfaces to the flow of content” (Mitew 2012) that comes with convergence.

What I think few people realise is that we should choose wisely when we decide which platform to use for participation. There are several industries that fight to regains control of both users and content, and thus construct the platforms to do so. Facebook and Apple are both examples of media platforms that are locked appliances. Everything you post on Facebook are owned by Facebook, and by using it you agree to give them the rights to distribute “your” content as they wish. Apple provide a “walled garden” (Mitew 2012) for its users, a garden where Apple has already decided which applications you are allowed to use, and it is not possible to explore anything else.

I believe that in an era where we are fighting for Internet freedom and milder copyright laws, we should we be aware of ideologies where the Industry controls everything we can and cannot do. There are other media platforms which operate in freer environments, where the users own their own material and are even welcome to explore and improve the operation systems. In a Top Ten (2012) review of Flickr it was said that Flickr “want to get photos and video into and out of the system in as many ways as [they] can: from the web, from mobile devices, from the users’ home computers and from whatever software [the users] are using to manage their content.” In addition to this, Flickr also invite users to construct their own applications via their Application Programming Interface (API) (Flickr 2012).

I believe that by choosing a media platform or technology which is open and generative, we build an environment for ourselves where the flow of content between us and our media platforms flow freely.

Censorship

We are “the people formerly known as the audience” (Jay Rosen 2006), and with our media technologies and platforms today we now have the ability to use these technologies to freely express our opinions and share our knowledge with the world, it is the closest we have ever been to democracy. Social media platforms are increasingly popular in our daily lives; even the industries are finding new and innovative ways to implement these platforms into their businesses. For advertisers sites like Facebook act like a buffet of what is popular and what is not (Li 2012), some newspapers welcomes citizen journalism through to their news via blogs, images and videos (CNN-IBN 2012), politically Twitter has been used efficiently to organize demonstrations in the world and lately news have travelled faster via social media sites than anything else.

As it get more difficult for the media conglomerates to maintain control, they now try to lobby our Governments for a more definite form of control; censorship. Bills like the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) and the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act” (CISPA)keep sneaking up on us, claiming that they are there to protect against online theft, but the intended result is to set us back as pure consumers by gradually blocking social media sites which will be blamed for hosting infringing links.

Our new media technologies and platforms can be used for creative purposes, but now more than ever we must remember what they are fundamentally constructed to do; spread messages. Several social media sites have demonstrated against these bills, Flickr for instance, was part of the campaign where they blackened, or censored, a lot of the pictures online to demonstrate what SOPA would look like. So far, the Internet and its users have won the battles, but given the different interests between the media conglomerates who wants to be the sole producers, and us who wants to participate, the war is far from over.

Conclusion

Flickr is a photo sharing site which enables its users to share “objects, knowledge and resources” (Weiss 2005). It was one of the first websites constructed to function in the web2.0 era, and for a very long time it was a revolutionary website. As a member on Flickr you create a profile, you connect with friends and people you choose to follow and you can comment on your own as well as other images. Flickr is a brilliant host for pictures; it is perfect for sharing and having your images discovered, but lately the photo sharing site seem to suffer by a lack of innovation (Dimech 2012). As the ongoing process of convergence continues, we are constantly presented to new technologies and innovations, and the contest is hard between the components. The one which is the most user-friendly and up to date wins the audience. I find it ignorant to choose a media platform or media technology solely on its design and functions, when there are many other important things that should be considered: Are you the owner of your own content? Are you allowed outside of the “walls” of your technology? Is your media platform supporting CISPA? Sites like Flickr, supports our freedom as users and that ought to be a strong argument for choosing it.

As much as I wanted to embed this video it was not possible to get the code from YouTube, but I will provide you with this link so that you can go and enjoy this cheerful and encouraging clip of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”.

It is actually funny that I can’t get a hold of the code, because it is probably related to the issues that I will discuss in this post: Copyright.

Probably you have sung that song, or at least tuned along with the line “always look at the bright side of life”? Do you know that every time you do that you are breaching copyright rules? This was brought to my attention yesterday and I was quite surprised to hear it. How many times haven’t I been singing “Happy birthday to you”?! Little did I know I was commencing a criminal act.

I would say that it is a case of “fair use“, but unless I have some further criticism or comments to the song, or a reason to use it in a news report or for teaching it is not considered as fair use. I have absolutely no rights to sing it.

Today the media conglomerates, like e.g. Disney own several different companies which operate in different fields (movies, TV, music, publishing etc.), this help them build a “consolidation model” (Mitew 2012). For example: They produce one movie and continuously earn money off its production through TV programs, music soundtracks, books, games, commercials and so on. This is also called “economies of scale” and gives the conglomerates a financial security. So they control very much of the flowing content. On top of this they own the copyrights to all of this content which gives them control of how the content is used as well. It also gives us very little left to “play” with.

Their goal is to control all content and users, but one problem has occurred: The internet.

Suddenly we have the power to upload and share all the content we want, and it’s free! So the value that was given to the conglomerates via copyright laws is now no longer valuable, people no longer pay for their productions because they can get them for free on the Internet. Piracy is indeed a crime, but is it correct that it is either that or the conglomerates get total control over content and user?

I think creative commons is a good answer to this issue. Creative commons allow you to share and remix others work as long as you attribute the work as specified by the author. In this manner people, artists, industries and others can choose to be a part of it or not. It opens up for many opportunities and leaves us with a society where we can act more freely. And last but not least, we would not have to be criminals anymore.

References:

Mitew, T 2012, Watch, but don’t touch! Copyright, ownership structures, and industry control, BCM112, Convergent Media Practices, University of Wollongong, delivered 12 March.