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5 Hybrid Assignment 03


% Deborah Markewich completed

Copyright laws have become much more complicated with the rise of digital media. The framers of the Constitution modeled our copyright laws after Great Britain’s Statute of Anne, which gave authors exclusive rights to their work for twenty-eight years. It was designed to limit access and stimulate production by giving writers a reward and an incentive to continue creating. At first only works such as books and maps received this protection but over the years it has come to apply to any form of expression and to extend to up to 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication. Since most people do not live 120 years, the original intent of the laws is irrelevant. But, as Taylor states, “new technologies threaten to overturn this situation,” (149) forcing almost anyone who uses the Internet into violating copyright, simply by pasting, sharing and downloading. And if the majority of citizens are in violation of copyright laws, can the laws be considered appropriate for the digital age?

When one buys a hard copy of a book or record, one can lend the book to or share the record with hundreds of friends and copyright holders have little they can do about it. But on the Internet, while culture is easily exchanged, it is also easily monitored by the copyright holders and it is easy to see a future where “all cultural encounters are classified as ‘copyright events.’ ” (150)

There are two distinct camps in the “Copyright Wars”: those who believe that all art and culture should be free and open to the public and that any restriction is an assault on an individual’s freedom; and those who believe that culture can be owned outright, does not belong to the general public, and that all downloading is theft.

The free culture proponents see copyright as profiting large corporations, not the individual artists, and equate file sharing with activism. They believe abolishing copyright will lead to a more inclusive and democratic society, in which no ideas are created in isolation, therefore they should be free for all to experience.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.” In other words, sharing does not create a loss to the creator.

In the second camp are groups such as the Recording Industry and the Motion Picture Association who see art as property and are fighting for more copyright restrictions on the Internet. But they are not fighting to help the artists.

Ironically, it is the artists themselves who are caught in the middle of the Copyright Wars. The industry often cuts them out of profiting from their own work so stricter copyright laws will not help them. And many emerging artists benefit from the exposure of their work when it is shared online so are not necessarily against file sharing. As Taylor states, “Most cultural producers, however, sympathize with both sides and wind up somewhere in between.” (169)






% Diami Virgilio completed

The copyright landscape has perhaps been the most affected by the rise of digital media over the past two decades. What it means to own a thing or idea has been fundamentally altered by the ease of reproducing and sharing digital content. The film, art, writing and music industries have been dramatically reshaped in response to the losses they are incurring as a result of digitization. But beyond simple losses, artists are confronted by digital media cheerleaders for being on the wrong side of what can increasingly take the tones of a moral argument. The “information wants to be free” mantra of the digerati is difficult to reconcile for artists and industry workers whose whole foundation is built on extracting value for as long a time as possible on a piece of art. Copyright defenders are attacked as authoritarians attempting to defend monolithic entities that want to restrict everyone’s access to creative output. Copyright antagonists are seen as being willing to enable theft.

What is often lost in the debate is that free simply isn’t free. “The basic divide at work here is between those capitalists that make money by selling access to content, and those that make money by controlling the content distribution networks” (Taylor, p. 152). But the battle between content publishers and distributors is age old and has permeated every industry from music to film to comic books to actual books. An uneasy alliance has always existed between distributors and publishers, for example, with some publishers electing to manage their own distribution, but new digital tools have in effect taken control of distribution out of the content provider’s hands and put it somewhere else. The salient question is where? New media enthusiasts often point to the distribution being in the hands of “the people,” when in reality the torrent and P2P networks most content is distributed on do make revenue due to the actions of their user base. Lost in the discussion is the actual content producer, the author or musician or filmmaker who seemingly never had a say where their work ended up anyway as long as it made back more than it cost. In the world of digital piracy, there are no residuals that find their way to the artist beyond the purchase of the original uploader.

Speaking for myself, I have a strange relationship with piracy. As a creator of content, I’ve actively enabled getting my work onto common piracy sites because it was more important to me that people have access to it than it was to make profit, but that pessimism over the possibility of making profit is in part due to an understanding of the contracted market for conventional content releases and a sense that piracy is inevitable. I have certainly enjoyed my fair share of pirated material, but have shifted in recent years to trying to buy things, though I’m not entirely sure why.


% Natasha Wong completed

In Chapter 5, the text states “Copyright, from day one, was designed to be both an impediment and an incentive, a mechanism of enclosure (one that prevented the unlicensed printing of texts, thereby limiting access), a catalyst of sorts, a structure to stimulate the production of literary goods by rewarding writers and publishers for the labor”
With the growth of digital media, it seems that distributing the work of others has become the norm. Social media is constantly plagued with inspirational quotes, sometimes referencing the author, other times it does not. We are able to share this work with thousands of people online which, in actuality violates copyright laws, however, it seems that these laws are now outdated and cannot apply to the digital age.
The two basic arguments are that culture can be owned and passed from heir to heir without concern for the wider public, while those in support of openness say that any restrictions on the use of cultural artifacts is an assault of individual freedom. What’s interesting is that the supporters of openness fail to acknowledge that said openness results in the inequality that they are trying to prevent. While they argue that all work belongs to the public and not the makers because all work is “built on prior creativity,” they essentially reduce the value of these creative works by allowing for them to be shared freely online. Additionally, they support “free culture” and believe it will end artist exploitation without realizing that in some ways, it is the public that exploits the artist by demanding his work be shared freely. What is overlooked is the fact that some of the support for “free culture” comes from venture capitalist who see a way to make money. The text gives examples of Facebook and Google who make their money by controlling the platforms on which people distribute various kinds of media and sell access to their user base to advertisers. As a result, more copying and sharing means more profit for those at the top, while the creators themselves stand to profit less or not at all by their work being shared freely online.


% Janelle Figueroa completed

The creation of copyright was intended to protect the original products of a person. It was made to prevent the usage and sharing of the product without notice, consent or payment for product. Due to the rise of digital media and its advancements, copyrights are becoming difficult. Focusing on a more artistic aspect, it is challenging for the creator to rely on a copyright because of how easy it is to duplicate ones work, change it, and share it digitally.

“The minute a film is released or an essay is published, it begins to race around the Internet, passed through peer-to-peer networks, posted on personal Web sites, quoted in social media streams. In one sense, therefore, any ownership claim is essentially fanciful, since, in practice, people’s creations circulate in ways they cannot control”(145). Once something is posted on the Internet, in a way, it doesn’t belong to that person anymore. It is widely and immediately shared, whether the creator wants it to be or not. After that decision is made to post, there really isn’t a way to hold onto it and not expect there to be changes made or viewed without cost. As soon as that idea is out there, it is then possible for everyone to make what he or she wants of it. They can now tweak it, in the slightest way, that it isn’t the original person’s idea anymore. Nothing is original anymore; everything we have seen or heard has been developed from someone else’s idea. It’s a constant cycle.

Do the problems and challenges with copyrighting and digital media mostly pertain to those who need copyrights most, those who spent thousands of dollars and/or years on their creation only to not get that money back or see a small profit or to those are more fortunate because they are well-known and have the money and time to spend?


% Dree-el Simmons completed

In chapter 5, we look at the concept of ownership of intellectual material in the digital world.  Copywriting, as it is traditional understood & used, is designed to protect the creators original creative product (an type of art developed & created) from being appropriated, used & distributed without the creator’s express knowledge, consent & compensation for the use of said artistic creation.  However, with the advent of the internet & the expansive nature of the digital world, this concept of copwriting has been under a fundamental attack.

 “Traditional notions of cultural ownership are also being challenged.  Online, creative works are decontextualized, remixed, and mashed up.  We surf and skim, passing along songs instead of albums, quotes instead essays, clips instead of films.  Artists who share their work with the world (or find it leaked) see it repurposed in ways they didn’t anticipate.  The minute a film is released or an essay is published, it begins to race around the Internet, passed through peer-to-peer networks, posted on personal Web sites, quoted in social media streams.  In one sense, therefore, any ownership claim is essentially fanciful, since, in practice, people’s creation circulate in ways they cannot control.” (145)

In additional, there are many people in the world that believe and idea cannot be fundamentally owned by just one person, but rather, gains power when it is shared (freely and widely) with all people.

“If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called and idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it…ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature.” (146)

It is precisely this type of rationalization and belief amongst the denizens populating the digital world that is spearheading and the impetus behind the push to decentralize ownership of artistic ideas and enterprise by freely distributing and sharing material online (copywritten or not).


% Jessie Salfen completed

Katherine Milkman’s “want/should conflict” explains the multilayered push-pull relationship of the user’s desire of immediacy and desire for quality content with the user’s willingness to compromise quality (the “should” self) for immediacy (the “want” self). The web is more than eager to play into this compromise and offer immediate content, pulling the user into a cyclical engagement of continued clicks on low quality websites and web products. The web’s competition for most timely posts to attain the most clicks means it prioritizes new posts over quality material. A news story time stamped five minutes ago that only summarizes an hour-old original post with more information will generate a higher ranked search result despite not having as much information. The web urges us to click on the most timely material, not the most substantial.

The overlaying layer of conflict is not between the user and what the web so readily offers, it is the user’s choices in web use and need to recognize that, as Taylor puts it, “we have… multiple selves and they want different things.” Though our choices on the web define a version of us through algorithms designed to offer us more based on past consumption, it cannot define us by knowing what we do not tell it. The internet will not offer us the opportunity to see past ourselves and engage in what Milkman calls the “should want.” We need to be aware of web use, how it uses us, and mindfully engage in thought out topics and activities rather than blindly consuming what the web offers.


% elizabeth completed

Due by midnight Tuesday, September 22nd. You must complete both posts to receive credit

Post 1. Choose and define one of the terms below. [Tag this post as “Taylor definitions Ch2” or “Taylor definitions Ch3”]. Please make an effort to choose a term that has not yet been defined. (250-300 words)

Chapter 2: “complex creative labor” (41), “social or peer production” (46), “feeling bonds” (49), Keynes’s “art of life itself” (52), Florida’s “information-and-idea-based economy” (57), “networked amateurism” (63).

Chapter 3: “2.0 people” (68), Jarvis’s “epistemological shift” (76), “digital dimes” (80), “digital churnalism” (89), “online content farms” (97), “the bored at work network” (99), Milkman’s “want/should conflict” (100).

Post 2. Using one or two examples from “Chapter 5: The Double Anchor” to make your point, explain how digital media is complicating our relationship to copyright. [Tag this post as “Hybrid Assignment 03”]. (300-350 words)