If you go down to the woods today

June 4, 2007

Disney Parody explanation of Copyright Law and Fair Use

Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use

Fair Use has it’s uses if you can justify the use; but as demonstrated above in the two videos, does it really bring value to a new work in sampled form? Both videos are humorous, but hard to follow.

Instead synthesis, using the samples as the base material for the production, or better the characters, assets and storylines (bearing in mind Disney has enjoyed borrowing Jungle book from the public domain only to protected the story through it’s own ‘classic’ rendering.) can open the usability of the original production.

Disney pumps dollars into promoting its productions knowing ‘roughly’ the longtail business returns on every frame and tune of the production. It employs thousands of people who design, produce and market the production; an industry is built upon the manufacturing of a creative network of people communicating a singular vision of Disneyness.

Such orchestration is the fine tuning of a commercial network, held together by licencing. Licences here are acting like an API – clear defined parameters of retrieval and use. Fair Use is a hack of the legal API, the amount, context and re-usable-ness is never defined. It’s a gamble call – a dirty grab at a well defined API.

As much as the focus and lamenting over copyright continues, and Creative Commons tries to bridge a peace deal with cc-by-sa, I see it in media technologists barking over formats and content connectivity, especially here in a debate concerning Microformats and the Semantic Web.

For me this fundamentally not understanding that ‘media’ is made for different reasons though may look the same. Indeed, the message may be the same. From political media to entertainment media, both have ingrained messages that seek to seduce the audience into, at worst, empathising, at best, buying the T-shirt.

When the Medium is Not the Message is to look at the purpose of the production process – the methodology of manufacturing:-

Publishers look to produce media for paid consumption. Marketing looks to produce media for voluntary engagement.

Both systems are ‘protected’ by the deeds of copyright. User Generated Media Authentic Media has been taken advantage of by both sides of commercial media producers; from YouTube as the video publishing arm of Google (admittedly having the lowest barrier to entry in the world) to Verizon Action Hero Movie Maker. Yet protection offers little in the way of commercial sense. Protection offers only the API to commerce use through uninspiring obvious reuse, such as distribution on portable media within territory markets (e.g. BluRay version in Egypt)

damianhirst_forgodssake.jpgThere is no fairy tale ending to this methodology of manufacturing; there is no downstream use with copyright acting like an API. There is no end in a closed network. And there’s no end in an open network.

Thinking that an open network of free media use is the holy grail of an enriching cultural existence, this is not an end in itself. To consider this as a destination (just as TV does being a non dialogue (Image) based technology), is to think incorrectly of the ambitions of message based media.

Message based media needs manipulation, it needs the Chinese whispers, it needs to find conduits. But at what speed does it need? What time does it require? Copyright, as recommended by Disney is up to 70 years after the death of the author. Reducing or decreasing it has no effect on the nature of the commercial APIness.

From Twitter to the LongNow (and Russel’s Dawdlr project) time is being used to leverage usage. I wrote about the use of time before in regards to Flickr patents and Interestingness, but with an assumption that the network effect sustains ubiquity. The Longtail theory would purport it does. But consider the value of the statelessness and fragility of the networks. A network thrives on collapses, allowing connections to be created through the result of misdemeanour (a collapse for example). Could media get trapped, moated from an audience is network collapses became more prevalent, and how does this effect the value of the media.

Service denials and caching has put stop to much of this commercial panic; but don’t these inflate the value of the persistant media suppliers? Sustainability and stability afford good consumer experience but is it helping create a good ecology of creativity?

Conflict has been a concernable source of innovations and product development, normally at the cost of short term humanity. Death has been a constant source of activation for achievement. Life has been a constant source of battle for designing solutions that invent cultural connectivity.

As social networks define themselves as platforms the hum of a media operating system becomes louder. The social grid is not a wired solution as the software developers are keen to believe. Consider the network a bag of nerves; an emotional net that individuals define their transmission and reception rules. ‘The Individuals Guide to the Emotiverse’ [sic] is the opportunity to build Emotional Media Interfaces (Sorry, EMI). Using the faux fragility of the server architectures to cache responses, media production can be used as a facilitator of emotional engagement.

By the user being the key instigator, the rights model is open to decision by the audience, not so much the facilitator. The user, as centric, is the first object in the downstream model of engagement ecology. Messages from are attractive to manufactures who have the scope to devise methodologies suitable to the request. The API in this case is dynamic on the side of the service provider, thus maintaining the love for asymmetrical communications.

If you go down to the woods today,
You’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down to the woods today,
You’d better go in disguise.

For ev’ry bear that ever there was,
Will gather there for certain, because
Today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic.

Ev’ry Teddy Bear who’s been good,
Is sure of a treat today.
There’s lots of marvellous things to eat,
And wonderful games to play

Beneath the trees where nobody sees,
They’ll hide and seek as long as they please
‘Cause that’s the way the Teddy Bears have their picnic

(The Teddy Bears Picnic 1907, John W. Bratton)

Fair Use communicates that copyright has justifications, and as the methodology of the vast majority of productions supports the millions who make stuff, it wont vanish without systematic changes to lives outside the capitalist economy that we use to pay for substance, stability and now sustainability. Copyright will be one of the last things to go, not the first in a networked era of media communications.

As Damian’s mother said to him: “For the love of God, what are you going to do next?”

“That’s when you stop laughing,” Hirst says. “You might have created something that people might die because of. I guess I felt like Oppenheimer or something. What have I done? Because it’s going to need high security all its life.”


One Response to “If you go down to the woods today”

  1. Will Says:

    I like the EMI point, and definition. Would that, then, preclude the rising from the ashes of other, more defined and regulated networks, a la the BBC?

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