Week 7: Copyright, Intellectual Property, Remix, Lessig

Hello again.

This week some background and insight into copyright and intellectual property. What does the digital age mean for creativity and copyright? Where does ‘the law’ stand in relation to creativity and the internet? What are the some of the motivations behind ‘the remix’? Whether you are conscious of these concepts already or not, you come into contact with these issues on a daily basis whenever you use/engage with/upload to the web.

Introduction to Copyright

Some copyright basics sourced from the Australian Copyright Council below:

What is copyright? A type of legal protection for people who produce things like writing, images, music and films. It is a legal right to prevent others from doing certain things (such as copying and making available online) without permission.

What is intellectual property? A general term covering a number of areas of law. These include copyright, trade marks and patents.

What can be copyrighted? Writing, visual images, music, computer programs and films.

Expression versus idea: Interestingly, copyright protects the form or way an idea or information is expressed, not the idea or information itself

How do I copyright my work? There is no system of registration for copyright protection in Australia. You do not need to publish your work, to put a copyright notice on it, or to do anything else to be covered by copyright — the protection is free and automatic.

A work is protected automatically from the time it is first written down or recorded in some way, provided it has resulted from its creator’s skill and effort and is not simply copied from another work. For example, as soon as a poem is written, or a song is recorded, it is protected.

Australian copyright works are protected in most other countries, and copyright works from most other countries are protected in Australia.

The © symbol: You do not need to put a “copyright notice” on your work for it to be protected in Australia. You may choose to put a copyright notice on your work to remind people that it is protected by copyright. You can put the notice on your work yourself; there is no formal procedure. The notice is: © (or “Copyright”) + copyright owner’s name + year of first publication —for example: © Gus O’Donnell 1968.

The public domain: In most cases, copyright expires after a period of time, and the material enters the “public domain”. This is currently between 50-70 years.

Copyright infringement: A person infringes copyright by making a “copyright use” (e.g. copying, broadcasting, making available on a website) without the copyright owner’s permission. The person may have a defence to infringement if a special exception applies.

Moral and performers’ rights: There are legal obligations to attribute creators of works, and to refrain from doing anything with a work that damages the designer’s reputation or is offensive to the designer. There are also legal obligations to get the performer’s consent to make certain uses of an audio recording.

Some copyright resources:

Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

From the RMIT Policies and Procedures online guide:

What is plagiarism? Presenting the work, idea or creation of another person as though it is your own. Plagiarism is a form of cheating and is a very serious academic offence that may lead to expulsion from the University. Plagiarised material can be drawn from, and presented in, written, graphic and visual form, including electronic data, and oral presentations. Plagiarism occurs when the origin of the material used is not appropriately cited.

Case study: Sam Leach’s Australian landscape or ‘double dutch’?

Let’s look at the recent case of Melbourne painter Sam Leach, who won not only the Archibald Prize for his portrait of Tim Minchin but also the Wynne Prize for ‘the best Australian landscape painting’ in 2010. You’ll notice that Leach’s Proposal for Landscaped Cosmos, and the Dutch painter Adam Pynacker’s 17th-century painting, Boatman Moored on the Shore of a Lake are remarkably similar.

  • Pynacker’s painting of an Italian Landscape is over 400 years old, well out of copyright.
  • The Wynne Prize is for ‘the best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolour’.

Article on crikey.com

Introduction to Creative Commons

‘Share, Remix, Reuse – Legally’ – Creative Commons

What is Creative Commons? An international nonprofit that offers flexible copyright management tools for creative work. Creative Commons offers a range of licences that creators can use to manage their copyright in the online environment, each offering its own specific protections and freedoms. CC has built upon the “all rights reserved” of traditional copyright to create a voluntary “some rights reserved” system.

Why use Creative Commons? To keep your own copyright but allow people to remix/copy/distribute your work provided they credit you as the author. Also, to have access to be able to remix/copy/distribute the work from an international pool of creative content legally.

Creative Commons licenses (these are the most common but there are additional licenses):

From creativecommons.org:

  • Attribution: Lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered, in terms of what others can do with your works licensed under Attribution.
  • Attribution Share Alike: This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial reasons, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.
  • Attribution No Derivatives: This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.
  • Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike: This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Others can download and redistribute your work just like the by-nc-nd license, but they can also translate, make remixes, and produce new stories based on your work. All new work based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.
  • Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives: This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, allowing redistribution. This license is often called the “free advertising” license because it allows others to download your works and share them with others as long as they mention you and link back to you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

CC and CC-related resources:

Some sound-related CC sites:

  • Freesound.org: collaborative database of CC-licensed sounds
  • CC Mixter: A community music site featuring remixes where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with CC-licensed music
  • Freeloops: CC site for audio loop files

Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig is a Harvard University professor and lawyer and one of the leading thinkers and activists in the areas of the law and technology and copyright in the digital age. He is also one of the founding directors and former CEO of Creative Commons.

Let’s watch Lawrence Lessig’s 2007 Ted talk on ‘Laws that strangle creativity’ in which he talks about user-generated content and read-write culture versus read-only culture.

Amateur culture: ‘by this I don’t mean amateurish culture, but a culture where people produce for the love of what they’re doing and not for the love of money’.

‘These tools of creativity have become tools of speech, a literacy for this generation’.

Excellent article on Lessig and his theories of read/write and remix.

Bio from Ted.com

Sound and CC Creative task

In-class exercise:

  • If you haven’t already, register with Freesound.org.
  • Download 5 different samples and create your own song or soundtrack out of these samples. Remember, you need to present your own self-created audio within your Final Project so try and make this track relevant
  • License your track using the Creative Commons license of your choice
  • Finally, upload your CC-licensed track to your blog, post it on soundcloud and/or ccMixter
  • If you don’t complete this today, finish off this task at home
  • Bonus task: contact one of the creators of remix/sound/music from ccMixter or freesound.org whose work you particularly like. Start a dialogue (blog, email etc) and document this on your class blog.
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~ by eugerino on May 3, 2010.

2 Responses to “Week 7: Copyright, Intellectual Property, Remix, Lessig”

  1. […] Eugenia has provided a good overview of the the key terms and issues involved with copyright. […]

  2. […] unsure? Have a look at this Week 7 ‘Copyright, Intellectual Property’ post. Or get in touch via […]

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