rebeccahedley

No, I’m not talking oceanliners, or anything like that, what I’m talking about is further proof that not all YouTube videos are attempts at celebrity: my favourite form of video expression, fanvids. Again, those of you thinking I’m being a hypocrite after condemning remix culture, the key here is once again in the fact that these are not made for commercial purposes. Basically the point of a fanvid is to celebrate your favourite fictional romantic pairing, or ‘ship’ as they’re known. And simply, there exist some beautiful works of art in this genre, including some of the following:

Fanvids can also be used as trailers for new fanfiction:

Enjoy!

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This morning I was greeted by this article waiting for me on my nine.msn homepage:

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/8257735/dad-dresses-up-in-170-costumes-to-farewell-son

Apparently some guy waved his poor son off at the bus every morning in costume. Including a wedding dress, mermaid outfit, and wonderwoman costume. He claims it was a unique way of showing how much he cared, but given the kid obviously found it humiliating, I don’t really see that argument flying. So either they actually really hated him, or they were using it as a stunt for media attention.

Given they documented the whole thing for their ‘family blog’, conveniently titled waveatthebus, I’m gonna go with the latter. What do you think?

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Fanfiction, for those who don’t know, is when an “author” (better known any random stranger) writes a story based on the characters or world of a published book/movie/TV show/anime/cartoon, etc. Story’s range from the strictly ‘canonical’, meaning they provide a missing moment or alternate view point from one of the above without actually altering the time line or events in any way, to the so completely AU (alternate universe) as to seemingly only share select character names and a few physical characteristics with the original.

Any who have read my previous posts on Commercial Commons Licenses and Piracy, located here and here, respectively, may be surprised to know that I’m actually all for fanfiction, particularly given my opinion on remix culture. The difference here is crucial: commercialisation. Fanfic is strictly non-profit, posted on websites such as fanfiction.net or livejournal accounts where the only thing authors expect in return is a nice little review. Sometimes not even that.

The exact number of stories currently being hosted on fanfiction.net, the largest fanfic archive on the net, is unavailable, and growing daily, but I can say this: In there anime category, Naruto is most popular with 274,588 stories, of cartoons, Avatar: The Last Airbender, with 29, 042, of comics, X-Men with just 38, games: Pokemon, at 420, plays, cats at 2,715 and movies, Star Wars, with 26,484. Of the two most popular categories, the most popular TV Show is Supernatural at 49,456, a number which belies the huge volume of stories written on just about every show ever aired. Books is by the most popular, with Harry Potter having a whopping 519,883 stories, with Twilight coming in second at 182,140.

Obviously, it’s popular, and any attempts to shut it down based on copyright issues would likely be met with widespread revolt. To hopefully counter any possible law suits, fanfic.net mandates that all authors include a ‘disclaimer’ literally disclaiming any writes to their stories in deference to the original copyright owners. Most authors, however, have no problem with it, seeing it as great practice for amateur writers to have some practice in already ready-made worlds with fully established characters. JK Rowling actively encourages it, and chic lit queen Meg Cabot readily admits that before she became an author, she used to amuse herself writing Star Wars fanfiction. Some writers, such as Robin McKinley, request that their work not be used, in which case fanfic.net will refuse to publish such stories, and remove them if found. But generally, fanfic is a great way to explore the books and Tv shows you love in whole new ways, and it can even increase sales as people become drawn into new fandoms by favourite authors.

The only times where it has become a serious problem is when someone decides to then publish the work under their own name, an incredibly rare occurence which has really only started up in the last few years thanks to a select few Twilight fic authors. However since most Twilight fics aren’t actually based on Vampires, but instead are both AU and AH (all human), generally names really are the only similarity between the two.

So all in all, it’s a fun, and harmless, way to waste some time waiting for the next book in a series to come out, or just enjoying reading more about the characters you love.

Anyone wanting to read some good fanfic, the following are generally considered fanfic royalty in their respective fandoms:

Harry Potter:

The Original Naked Quidditch Match by Evilgoddss/Anya

Carpe Diem by Imogen

Need by iluvfanfics

and Backfire by Brainchild

Twilight:

Wide Awake by AngstGoddess003

Glee:

Just Like Last Tuesday Except With Zombies by angeldawes

Anything by smc-27

Anything by cheapen

Gossip Girl:

The Very Last Valkyrie

Catherine

and Bob5

As I’m sure everyone knows, it is currently exam time. ‘Exam time’ is a very tame term, as most students have much more colourful ways of referring to this period of the semester where it sometimes feels as though the many, many dry academic papers are each reaching out and draining your very soul, erasing even the very notion of happiness, in much the same way as the Demontors of Harry Potter suck out their victims’ souls, leaving them empty husks incapable of human emotion.   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Anyway, in the midst of this academic soul-sucking, I stumbled accross The Alternative Media Handbook, which, as the name suggests, is a handbook of alternative media. I figured, great – new source, new reference, lots of info on blogging, (ironically enough, not for this subject – have you noticed that university subjects seem to have a lot of overlap?)  what I didn’t realise, was that in addition to all of the background stuff I needed for my essay (because of course, you need actual references that pirate radio existed in the 1960s, and no The Boat that Rocked does not count, and no, ‘it’s just general knowledge’ is not good enough) I discovered that this Alternative Media Handbook could also have been aptly named ‘The How To Guide to Internet Activism. For Dummies’. That last part is important, because as someone who regularly has issues with even the simplest of technological functions (as recently as this week I somehow managed to make all of my facebook comment emails appear on a black blackground. Unfortunately, the writing also remained black, so the comments were unreadable unless highlighted. While it seemed to fix itself about an hour ago, I still have no clue what happened) complete, step by step instructions are necessary, including that information which most would take to be ‘assumed knowledge’ or ‘technological common sense’.
 
Here I found direct links to free software guaranteed to launch an internet assault on a website of my choosing, as well as case studies detailing how other internet activists had gone ahead of me to wreck social and political havoc with nothing more than their laptops and a handy internet connection. Made this blog seem incredibly tame, all in all.
 
But it also got me thinking. My basic approach to blogs is to write them for yourself, because with so many out there, it’s unlikely that it’ll get any real notice. It doesn’t take much for an idea to take hold if it has enough merit. I don’t want to start some pollitical activist site. In fact, I’m sick of the entire left-wing/right-wing debate, because frankly? In theory they’re both good. In practice? Neither is, without some serious disadvantages. If I was going to start a political revolution, it would begin by removing all conceptions of both capitalism and communism/marxism/socialism/whatever you want to call it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in things, and it doesn’t mean I don’t have ideas about what’s right and wrong.
 
And thanks to The Alternative Media Handbook, next time I find something I’m passionate about, I’ll probably join hundreds of millions and use the internet to get my point accross. But maybe I won’t confine myself to blogging, and who knows? Maybe I’ll start a revolution.
  
 
 
 

Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media”

 Everybody knows of at least one YouTube celebrity. Whether it be Susan Boyle, whose shockingly good Britain’s Got Talent Audition went viral and thrust her into instant stardom, or the ‘Numa Numa’ guy and his unique dance moves. The two of the most successful YouTube celebrities, however, would have to be Charice Pempengco and Justin Bieber. Charice shot into world-wide fame when videos of her performances were broadcast on YouTube in 2007. To date, she has released 4 albums, been named ‘The Most Talented Girl in the World’ by Oprah Winfrey, and plays the character of Sunshine Corazon on the hit show Glee. Bieber was discovered in 2008, at the age of only 13, when a marketing executive discovered his videos on YouTube. To date he has 5 albums, has guest starred on various shows, starred in his own film, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, was the winner of the 2010 American Music Award’s Artist of the Year Award and has a cult following of pre-teen girls.

 Not too shabby.

 The potential for YouTube as celebrity-maker is uncontested. “As recording labels and talent scouts increasingly turn their attention to online publishing opportunities, YouTube has been mythologized as literally a way to ‘broadcast yourself’ into fame and fortune” (Burgess and Green, 2009: 22). According to Burgess and Green, there are two types of celebrity resulting from YouTube; YouTube’s own, internal system of celebrity, “who are famous for being notorious, obnoxious, or annoying” and who’s “ongoing status as a ‘star’ YouTuber can only be achieved by ongoing participation in YouTube” (Burgess and Green, 2009: 24), contrasted with the wider-known media celebrities (Burgess and Green, 2009: 24). Charice Pempengco and Justin Bieber fall into the latter category. Before they were famous, both Charice and Biebs had videos on YouTube, however their it was only once they were discovered and thrust threw the system of the mass media that they became actual celebrities; their success is “measured not by their online popularity, but by their subsequent ability to pass through the gate-keeping mechanisms of old media – the recording contract, the film festival, the television pilot, the advertising deal” (Burgess and Green, 2009: 24).

 By this reasoning, Burgess and Green argue that viewing YouTube as a fast-track to celebritydom is false. When you look at the basic facts, Justin Bieber’s rise to stardom is no different than that of any other celebrity, such as Rihanna, the Veronicas – discovered by a talent scout, recorded some demos, offered a record deal. The rest, as they say, is history. What’s changed is the method of discovery. It would be wrong to assume that anyone who posts a video on YouTube does so with the desire to become a celebrity. I know I, for one, like to post stupid videos of my friends and I mucking around, not so we can be discovered, but so that we can share them together and remember the moment. YouTube culture has become more than just ‘broadcasting yourself’; it’s a “social network foundation” (Burgess and Green, 2009: 29) which “adds new dimensions to these circuits of ‘privatized media use’” (Burgess and Green, 2009: 26-27). YouTube is as much about sharing home movies, good laughs and fond memories, as it is an avenue for self-promotion. But as people find new ways to utilize the media, so too does the media find new material.

Ordinary people ‘discovered’ by YouTube “remain within the system of celebrity, native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Burgess and Green, 2009: 23) because, ostensibly, nothing’s changed. All YouTube has really done is save the talent scouts some legwork; rather than trolling school plays for undiscovered creative genius, they can now do so from the comfort of their own living rooms.

References:

Burgess, Jean; Green, Joshua. ‘YouTube and the Mainstream Media’, YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press (2009) pp. 15-37.

Medosch argues that: “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions”

In the above quote, that “piracy, despite being an entirely commercial motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions” (Medosch, 2008: 81), Medosch argues that this so called ‘piracy’ aids in the liberation and cultural education of people by “giving access to cultural goods” which would otherwise be “stifle[d]” by the “large international vertically integrated media corporations” (Medosch 2008: 80-81).

Much like Creative Commons, I agree with Medosch in theory. When governments and media corporations are censoring the release of cultural products such as artistic movies and controversial books, as seems to be the case in the examples Medosch provides of Taiwan and China (Medosch, 2008: 80-81), it makes sense that the distribution of such cultural products through pirated channels fulfills culturally important functions by enlightening audiences and broadening the market. Likewise, I agree that the existence of pirated LAN houses in the slums of Brazil are no doubt providing endless opportunities just be giving the “slum-dwellers…access to services and information which allow a long-marginalised population to realize their civil rights and get better chances on the labour market” (Medosch, 2008: 82). What I dispute is Medosch’s generalization that all piracy “fulfills culturally important functions”.

 In western countries such as the US, Britain, Europe, and Australia, access to cultural products is not an issue. We have the “official distribution” channels that Taiwan, China and Brazil lack, and yet internet piracy is becoming more and more commonplace. Medosch argues that piracy is valuable because it “shows what a surprisingly strong interest the buyers of video CDs and DVDs have in “art movies”” (Medosch, 2008: 81), and fills the void of distribution created when the “official channels” don’t allow it. His statement that the crisis of the economy of cultural production is due not to piracy, but to “insane legislations” and the fact that the “old cultural industries” are employing fewer people, may be true (Medosch, 2008: 89). However the last thing an economy in crisis needs is for people to stop buying. And with torrents available free of charge on the net, more and more people are choosing to get their cultural products via piracy not through lack of options, but because it’s free, and virtually untraceable.

 File sharing websites such as 4-shared offer completely free access to millions of mp3 files ranging from the latest chart-toppers to little known country tunes, as well as pdf versions of millions of newly released books, video files, and photos. A quick search of one of my favourite authors, Tamora Pierce, produces 218 results, including full copies of her books available for download at the click of a button. The less well-known author Herbie Brennan still produces 32 results, and Cassandra Clare’s City of Fallen Angels, which was only released on the April 5th 2011 with an online price of $27.95, already has three complete copies ready for download.   

While I am not anti-piracy, nor do I disagree entirely with the Creative Commons License, I do believe that we need to “reward authors and other content producers” (Medosch, 2008: 94).

Unlike Medosch, I do think piracy is contributing to the fall in the industry, and I hope that in the midst of the great copyleft-copyright debate, the forerunners remember that as Richard Stallman said, they should be fighting for “free as in freedom, not free as in free beer” (Medosch, 2008: 82) because in order to ensure the survival of the industry, we need to support the creators’ right to be “Paid in Full” (Medosch, 2008: 95).

Some rights reserved by Cwluc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Medosch, Armin. ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’, Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies. London: Deptforth TV, (2008) pp. 73-97.

THE GREAT COPYRIGHT DEBATE:

Following week 10 tutorial’s exercise, explain why you chose the Creative Commons license that you added to your blog and discuss the relevance (or not) of adding the license.

 When it comes to copyright, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, the part of me that likes sharing photos I find, manipulating images with Photoshop, writing in worlds I didn’t invent, appreciates the opportunities offered by the Creative Commons license. The Creative Commons license is about returning to the grass roots of copyright as it was first established in 1790, which created a clear, “legal distinction between ideas and their expression” (Garcelon, 2009: 1308). Thomas Jefferson, who worked on the original American copyright laws, believed that “ideas should remain in the public domain rather than bound by legal restriction” (Garcelon, 2009: 1308). With this, I agree. Human life has existed for many thousands of years, so it wouldn’t be presumptuous to assume that truly original ideas are few and far between. Instead what we have are re-imaginings, people looking at old things in new ways, or finding ways to actually achieve something which before was only a dream. To copyright ideas is to limit human potential.

However when Garcelon talks of “rivalrous” and “nonrivalrous” resources in An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Creations, he states that a nonrivalrous resource is that which “can be copied at little or no commercial cost” (Garcelon, 2009: 1310). Going by Jefferson’s explanation, copyright was put in place for a limited period to “ensure that creators would have incentives to continue to produce artistic work” (Garcelon, 2007: 1308). When framing his argument for Creative Commons, Garcelon does so by suggesting that only rivalrous resources, those in danger of being overused, need copyright laws to “assure that the resource is not depleted” (Garcelon, 2009: 1309-1310). Therefore since nonrivalrous resources are in no danger of being depleted, they do not a copyright system of control.

 My issue with this is simple: Garcelon assumes that anything which can be reproduced, such as through digital documents, CDs, and DVDs, becomes an idea, a concept which people have a right to appropriate. I disagree. There is a big difference, for example, between the idea of a magical boarding school where students study spells and wizadry, and the completed manuscript of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books. For me, it comes down to commercialization. Garcelon seems to assume that the only people at advantage under the current copyright laws are “commercially successful creators and large media corporations” (Garcelon, 2009: 1309). However, everyone has the right to profit from their work, and when others come in, add a remix beat to a song, or throw established characters into a new situation, and then presume to call it ‘theirs’ and sell it for profit, are robbing the original creators of their due, and, frankly, cheating. The manuscripts are a nonrivalrous resource, available as digital pdf documents as well as audio mp3 files and capable of unlimited reproduction. However while they can be re-imagined, altered until they are almost unrecognizable, to redistribute a product commercially which uses the Harry Potter characters or world and market it as original is, to my thinking, wrong. Non-commercial use is different, and I do believe that when people write fanfiction, or remix songs for their own enjoyment, with no thoughts of selling, then any use of pre-existing material is acceptable. If you want to profit from your work, then fine, put the effort in to make something original rather than stealing the work of others and claiming it as your own. A new guitar riff does not a new song make.

 So when I decided to license my blog under the Creative Commons, I chose an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, so that people can feel free to use any part of my blog they wish, in any way they wish, but I can be secure in the fact that if anyone’s going to be profiting off my writing, it will be me. And thanks to the ShareAlike add-on, hopefully the trend will continue.

Some rights reserved by bibicall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Garcelon, Mark. ‘An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations’, New Media & Society. 11.8 (2009): 1307-1326.

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