Module 4, Topic 2: Copyright

Copyright is a hotly contested debate in an ever-changing digital landscape, where we celebrate the political power of practices such as the remix and appropriated images and texts. What do we tell our students to best foster creativity without breaking the law?

 Lawrence Lessig suggests that the outdated copyright laws have turned our kids into criminals because the laws are preventing kids from remixing pre-existing art and copyrighted material. He describes remixing as “taking work and building on top of it” (from interview with Larry Lessig on the Colbert Report) or “taking and recreating other peoples content – using digital technologies to say things differently” (from Larry Lessig talks one for TED; one for NYU).

When we talk about digital remixing this involves mixing digital images, texts, sounds and animations.

“We remix language every time we draw on it, and we remix meanings every time we take an idea or an artefact or a word and integrate it into what we are saying and doing at the time” (Lankshear & Knobel, p. 107).

 I think that using an author’s work and adding value to it is acceptable and should not be considered a breach of copyright – if you think about works by Shakespeare such as Romeo & Juliet these have been adapted as film and more recently as a graphic novel or manga titled Romeo x Juliet.

 What would the law-makers have to say about anime??? (I discuss manga and anime here as this was the topic of my first assignment). Lankshear & Knobel describe anime as “animated manga” (p. 119) because a lot of anime is influenced by artistic styles and storylines found in manga (often characters and storylines that are made into manga are also transformed into anime). Popular manga and anime have generated a lot of fan (otaku) activity: ‘fanfic’ or fan fiction narratives (including poetry and screenplays); amateur manga – in the form of fan art (stand alone/ individual images and entire comics created by fans); and fan sub or digisub anime (where English-language subtitles are inserted into original anime). It is also interesting to note here that amateur manga and fan fiction are taken so seriously that some websites will not post new works until they have been critically read by other manga/anime lovers to ensure that they conform to the strict conventions of the text type.

 Manga-anime fan fiction uses characters, storylines and other resources and mixes them into new adventures or new universes altogether” (Lankshear & Knobel, p. 120).

AMVs (anime music videos)

You can check out these examples of AMVs:

 Lupin III AMV:

 Initial D AMV:

 Cowboy Bebop AMV:

 Romeo x Juliet AMV:

The vision of Creative Commons is about “realising the full potential of the internet — universal access to research, education, full participation in culture, and driving a new era of development, growth, and productivity”.

I agree with the idea (put forward by Lessig) of encouraging artists and creators to choose to have their work made available for non-commercial use.

Kids today are not just passive consumers of technology they are creators and producers of digital texts. There needs to be some rationalisation when it comes to the use of the internet and digital technologies; we need to work to maximize digital creativity, sharing, and innovation not destroy it, because as Lessig states “we can’t stop [our kids] from using [digital technologies] we can only drive it underground, we can not make our kids passive again we can only make them pirates”.

References: (Larry Lessig on the Colbert Report) (Larry Lessig talks (one for TED; one for NYU)

 Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2006). New literacies: everyday practices and           classroom learning. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.


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