An Introduction

A defining catalyst for our research into copyright and the rights of both the consumers of media, is the rise of networked media. More than ever before people have the capacity to access and modify all forms of media than previous generations. Namely technologies such as the World Wide Web, and the ever increasing abundance of software available in smaller devices such as smartphones, allows many of us in the developed world to access, copy, and re-appropriate all forms of media.

In our approach to this research we reflected the breadth of the content, and particularly the variability of modern media. In regards to how often copyright comes down to legal considerations, there are several references to specific court cases throughout this project that involve disputes of re-appropriation as in the case of Cariou v Prince, and a matter of trademarks and the alleged abuse of them in the case of Zenimax and Mojang. We also look towards existing academic material that has explored modern copyright, while drawing on and expanding on dialogues on piracy, to look beyond copyright infringement within the network.

We also drew on a wide variety of websites, that reflect more contemporary mediums namely gaming websites and news articles concerned with recent copyright disputes and discussions. The availability of legal documentation also means we have been able to cite primary documents and research. The breadth of the type of research will reflect how broadly copyright can be applied and how much it affects the daily media we engage with.

Copyright in the simplest terms is the “legal right to copy” (Fisk, N 2011). The emergence of rapidly expanding networks and databases – both physical and digital – has posed new problems with ownership, and use of a given piece of media. It is important, now more than ever, that we reconsider the viability and sustainability of Copyright within the context of new technology and ideals.

The Internet is now common to our everyday lives The World Wide Web platform uses “hypertext, like the Internet, multifont text objects”, “designed to be a collaborative workspace” (Berners, T 2007), and this technology has facilitated a huge growth in collaborative creation on the part of viewers.

It is through this technology that the role of consumers and producers has been blurred. The concept of the viewer or consumer has traditionally been a passive one, however the idea of a more active viewer is far more prevalent with an abundance of shared imagery and ideas through re-appropriated media. This essay explores the interaction between creators and consumers less as a one way transaction, but more as a two way exchange, where the line between fans and producers is blurred.

This interaction is important for continued creation and innovation. A reference point for how we aim to approach the dynamic of Fan and Producer is Henry Jenkins outline of the operation of Fans and that active consumers are “first and foremost, an institution of theory and criticism” (Jenkins 2012). This is vital to our approach to this essay, as we investigate how this practice of theory and criticism interacts with existing systems of Copyright, and how if at all creators are restricted, and whether the systems require change.

With this conception in mind, we aim to explore further how copyright affects with the Fan/Producer interaction on a legal, moral, and individual level. While piracy has in recent years become a highly controversial topic, and popular political vehicle, it is not the only facet of copyright and not what we are primarily concerned with. Through this essay we are concerned with how copyright might affect content communities and their cultural exchange. It is vitally important to explore deeper how Copyright as a law, and a practice, is put into action, particularly within the context of new technology.

The first section ‘Legal Frameworks’ will first provide a historical context of copyright, and how it varies from state to state. This section will focus in particular on a case study of a case between french photographer Cariou and appropriation artist Prince. Concepts of Fair Use, and Fair Dealing will be explored and contrasted, notably in regards to how Australia implements Copyright. Australia is consider adopting fair use, used primarily in the United States. This perspective will provide a conceptual framework which will allow us to examine how exactly Copyright is implemented in today’s society, and how it can potentially be reimagined.

The following section ‘Morality’ will look deeper into the public and private interests of Copyright. This section is interested primarily with originality of fan works and reappropriated media, citing historical anecdotes of Walt Disney and it’s reappropriation of Brothers’ Grimm stories for their own films. It will inquire on Disney’s hard line Copyright of these works and the moral inconsistencies that arise from this. Ultimately it will look closer at the interaction between large companies and individuals, and whether these interactions are fair and sustainable in the current world.

The third section ‘Economics’ will hone in on particular companies and their interests in trademarks on specific words. It will explore effects of intellectual property on the ability to share or create value between content stakeholders. It cites the emergence of a new kind of fan creation in the form of video streaming and video game ‘Lets Play’s. Overall it will provide a breakdown of where private interest can cause unnecessary restriction on small, less advantaged creators.

The final section ‘Fan Cultures’ is concerned with the online emergence of fan culture, and fan creators. It discusses the restrictions of the definition of parody, and provides examples of how Producers and Fans interact through author J.K. Rowling and her interaction with fan structures. It will explore how fans might be able to produce content that deals in copyrighted works, without breaching or disturbing the interests of the Producer, so that everyone can benefit from the work.

While the contemporary dialogue surrounding copyright usually falls onto piracy and it’s ethical considerations. We found that for any significant discussion to be created, it was more important that we take a more holistic approach to how media is handled, particularly within a global network and the technologies that comprise it. We hope that through the following sections a more substantial dialogue can be generated to encourage a broader discussion of the topic of copyright.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.