Remix Fairness, A Closer Look.

Remix Fairness, A Closer Look.


My friend and colleague Michael Branson Smith shared this great piece with our CT101 class a few years ago. It continues to be very timely and speaks to artists of all kinds –

Andy Baio is a software developer for Kickstarter, he writes and speaks about his experience being sued by a photographer and is forced to settle and pay thousands of dollars. This is despite the fact he believes the law is on his side and so does his pro-bono counsel the EFF.”

Questions to address in the comments section below :

1. What did think about the presentation?

2. How has this presentation solidified or changed your point of view or awareness on the subject of remix and reuse culture?

3. How does this information effect the way you may or may not promote yourself as an artist on the web?

( Make sure that you read Andy’s blog post here as well -> writes <- )

13 thoughts on “Remix Fairness, A Closer Look.

  1. The presentation was surprising and informative. I had no idea that Fair Use can only be decided by a judge in court. It seems unfair that Fair Use is subjective and not a clearly stated law. If sued, you are not impartially judged. The outcome rides on a few factors directly relating to the judge: open-minded or close-minded, educated on topic, exposed to media or old school, interest in art and understanding of art culture, etc. literally, one person and their personal views and interpretations are deciding your fate. I think it is an infringement on artistic creativity and stomps on the First Anendment. I have to agree with Ferguson”a statement that memes enrich cultural expression. Any piece of work that is transformative and adds new meaning is a completely new work on its own. Transformation is flattery. We all borrow. Bain says it best: “By taking works we love, we build upon the ideas of those people we admire. Everything is a remix.”

    1. Yes, crazy how fair use comes down to a judges ruling! It continues to be a grey area that generates millions f dollars in cases each year. As you can imagine what the outcomes are when a judge is NOT educated on the subject, content, its contexts, etc…We all borrow, we all share. Bain nailed it!

  2. In our society we are taught to copy throughout our lives: styles and techniques of art in school, styles of writing, procedures in medicine, etc. That’s how we learn and gain inspiration to create evolved works. All of our great inventors borrowed technology and the used it in a new way to create advancement. I think if you publish a remix on the internet and it is for sharing use only ( not profit) , you should have the right to be worry free regarding copyright law. If you are borrowing from an artist and making a profit, then maybe there should be a program that scans your work and directs you to the correct channels on who to pay and what percentage so that you can make an educated decision and be protected from bloodsucking lawyers that take for granted your helplessness and make a business out of settling out of court.

    1. This is so great! Such an important reminder. We are taught to copy right away from early education, why would randomly forget this? We don’t, it continues and we build of of those experiences. I so agree with you. The “settling out of court” industry is indeed another sad way to hurt people. I have such little tolerance for it. I do think change is upon us, the dinosaurs will retire and the next wave of judiciary authority will come into being. They will have a first hand knowledge of creative commons, fair use and cases (like “Napster”) that have forever changed the face of how the internet is the worlds biggest card catalog for sharing and inspiring.

  3. The presentation was informative. I became aware of the importance to be wary when composing artworks, especially when inspirations are formed from other artists. It is quite a dilemma since original artists should receive compensation for their creations. We all want credit or recognition for what we have accomplished, or what we feel is important. No one wants to feel that someone has copied, or stolen their idea. The ambiguity lies in how to decide how much power does the original artist have? If he wants his work to be original, does this mean that you can not expand upon it without consequence? In addition, when the usage is disputed the higher authority to decide upon this matter is not an expert in the field? This definitely limits all artists in their creativity. An Artist should study the works and ideas of the past to envision something greater. In the direction that the world is expanding on new technologies, laws need to be revisited and redefined.

  4. 1. What did you think about the presentation?
    Eye-opening to say the least. I always felt that if you use a photograph as a basis for an illustration that drastically changes the original artistic elements (such as color, line, value, shape, etc.) that the artist was in the clear. Note the operative word is: drastically. But obviously Andy Baio’s experience proves this wrong. I personally feel that his 8 bit digital recreation of the original Maisel photo is enough of an abstraction of the original to easily fit into the “fair use” category.
    I completely support Baio’s case and realize that due to the costly nature of fighting it through the courts, that his decision to settle was financially necessary. Maybe he should start a Kickstarter to fund the ultimate legal battle to bring this entire issue through the courts and settle it once and for all.

    2. How has this presentation solidified or changed your point of view or awareness on the subject of remix and reuse culture?
    I always felt that the courts had dealt with the re-mix situation years ago. Especially with well publicized cases like the Rolling Stones vs.The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.” When the Stones won this battle, it seemed that sampling a segment or even an arrangement of an original song mandated that the composers/performers give their approval and require just financial compensation for their “art.” I thought that from that point forward, sampling was gong to be “legal.” But I guess I was wrong. As I indicated in class, this situation has been exacerbated with the more recent victory between the Marvin Gaye estate vs. Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” for basing a new song on the “feel” of an old one. This situation widens the scope of infringement to include fearing being influenced by another artist’s style, even if you are not copying his/her work directly. I do not know where it is leading, but we seem to need a major court case as I described above to settle it. As Grace said in class – “there is nothing new” and I will add: especially in the 21st century

    3. How does this information effect the way you may or may not promote yourself as an artist on the web?
    As an illustrator, I often base my compositions on photographs taken from the web, especially with images which I absolutely have no access to, such as a dinosaur or tropical creature. But, I guess I will minimize this practice and go back to relying on drawings taken directly from life, whenever possible.
    This was always my preference and I guess deep in my heart I always knew that the using somebody’s photograph, regardless of how I altered the image with my illustrative style and composition, was wrong, especially if the artwork will eventually end up on the web!
    From this point forward, I will spend additional time discussing with my students, the “tools” and “usage rights” that are available to all when downloading an image from Google, services which are unfortunately overlooked as important legal steps in the creative process.

  5. The presentation started out fun and light but turned grim rather quickly. I guess that was just like Andy Baio’s experience when making Kind of Bloop. I can see how this could happen to anyone of us. His presentation and blog post speaks to the harsh realities of the real world. Sometimes we get wrapped up in our own little bubbles, never thinking something so terrible is lurking down the Internet alley. The web is a powerful force for both positive and negative reasons.
    I feel a bit unsettled and I will definitely proceed with caution. Using inspiration from images found online is such a wonderful tool for artists to utilize; yet I now see how dangerous it could be. It makes me wonder how far this fair use policy can go. Pinterest is a visual dictionary for almost everything you can think of. I’d imagine this a hub for copyright infringement and fair use violators. Hopefully the art community can come together to clear things up and settle this. I like the idea of funding a kickstarter to battle the courts and set things straight once and for all.

  6. 1. What did think about the presentation?

    The presentation showed a strong sense of connection throughout history but it also showed the disconnection through views and perspectives of artists. Andy Baio was able to give detailed examples of a chain reaction on influences throughout the time. Some of these examples were altered changes and some were exactly the same. (Ex, The Harlem Shake Song used with a Minecraft video) This example had no altercations done to each piece other than put it together. Again I think this shows the art world as a community that helps influence one another. The remarks of these artists claimed they understood and they weren’t upset that others took their ideas for their own. Now on the other side showing the disconnection of the art world, is how other artists stood up and took ownership of their work. Andy Baio himself is an example of how replicating artwork even in a different style could lead to an out of court settlement putting a person out of a lot of money. Of course, him and just like many people, did not want to cause anyone harm by these actions, it is just an inspirational snowball effect of ideas flowing from history, but other people aren’t as accepting to this idea. What was one of the first things I thought of was the subjectivity of art. People always say, ‘Art is subjective.’ Well yes, everyone has their own opinions but what you don’t think about is how suing can also be subjective, the tables have turned on each other! Some artists are okay with it and others are not. Art is all about taking risks, and when we use influences from other artists, we need to stop and ask ourselves if we are okay with taking those risks.

    2. How has this presentation solidified or changed your point of view or awareness on the subject of remix and reuse culture?

    I teach Media Arts to students grades 9 through 12 and we work heavily using images found on google. After watching this video, it has definitely raised my awareness on the subject of remix and reuse culture. I definitely want to have a discussion with my students on this subject. I would like to also raise their awareness because I want them to be careful when choosing images as well as what they do with their projects when they leave and finish my course. Who knows if they would try to sell a project or whatever they may come up with but just letting them be aware of the consequences so it’s in their heads.

    3. How does this information effect the way you may or may not promote yourself as an artist on the web?

    Where we are in today’s world, I think promoting yourself as an artist on the web is very important. It is also very dangerous. It is important to take the proper steps in protecting your images as well as making sure your images can’t fall short of the originality. I think it is very important to take the time to fully understand the legalities of claiming what is yours so you can spare yourself from losing tens of thousands of dollars. I actually had a piece of work of mine stolen, through the mail not through the web. I just remember how bad I felt. That I’ll never get that work back. I mean I still had the negative and could reprint it but it was the fact that I didn’t know where it was or where it would end up. I haven’t seen it anywhere yet, but I’m still hopeful! Now, our technology is way more advanced and I shouldn’t have that problem anymore but it has taught me to be careful with how I promote my work. Just like Len mentioned, he is an illustrator, I do a lot of my work using other images as well and illustrating in Photoshop and Illustrator. It is a sketchy ground to stand on but I think with the guidance of this information we can take the more proper protocols like using our own photographs or using drawings and be more comfortable promoting our work on the web.

  7. 1. What did think about the presentation?
    This was a very interesting presentation. Andy raised a lot of good points about the remix and reuse culture, because at what point is it honoring who inspires you to just blatant copying. People are inspired by one another all the time. I feel like ideas bounce back and forth between people and it can create something new or just a remix.

    2. How has this presentation solidified or changed your point of view or awareness on the subject of remix and reuse culture?
    I’ve become more aware. I didn’t know that there was a term for this. One thing I didn’t understand is the point he brought up about people making cover songs. He brought up a very good point, how is that legal but the pixelated version of a photograph a copyright infringement? Is it because the photographer is very well known and wealthy that they went through with the legal battle against the pixelated version? I don’t seem to understand that and I agree that what happened to him was wrong.

    3. How does this information effect the way you may or may not promote yourself as an artist on the web?
    I don’t think this really affects the way that I promote myself. I am always stating that I am inspired by certain artists but that’s merely it. When you look at my art you can see the traces but I’ve been really working to create my own style in order to express myself. I think it’s harder for digital artists. It’s so easy for people to point fingers and say that things were lifted.

  8. Hearing Andy Baio’s experience is a chilling reminder to always credit where credit is due. Being a regular goer to art conventions, I commonly see reinterpretative fanwork being sold by artists with no hesitation. To think someone could potentially threaten an artist financially and drain them from wanting to express themselves creatively is horrifying. It all seems to depend on the character of the original artist or team of creatives that inspired the remixed work. It’s unbelievable that there are different conclusions from these court cases just depending on what the judge deems “fair use”. Most of what I do takes inspiration from various pop culture references so this video really hits home for me. I usually composite photographs for reference but I will be sure to credit where I can in the future. At the same time artists have long been influenced by mythical, biblical and literary themes. We are in a constant state of borrowing from one another.

  9. The process of presentation is a very important point but also shows the art process will happen. Artistic inspiration is the instantaneous generation of aesthetic images, artists anytime, anywhere or intentionally or unintentionally put the bits and pieces of life into their own consciousness, so that the aesthetic awareness of creation is constantly accumulating, but in this art And the law is closely related, if you can through the law to recognize and protect all the benefits, it is extremely wonderful thing. Andy Baio gives some examples of the different effects of art, but I think people can adopt each other, but there must be something new, or the consequences may not be affordable. about the subject of remix and reuse culture this problem, I actually feel better, everyone has their own different ways of writing, because the photographer’s popularity reasons, the latter will use their photos with their own way it is expressed by other means, I think this is not a very serious thing, and maybe better performance but may become a legal issue to pay a lot of money. But the example given by Andy explains the behavior of the law and the art at this stage. To be honest, we have a lot of new ideas every day to carry out our new works of art, we can not have new ideas every day so we only through different Internet to see other people’s works in order to obtain new inspiration, but We have to go through their own way to add their own characteristics into, or maybe one day we will experience this legal issue. Refused to copy, encourage reference. Try to avoid some unnecessary things.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s