Matters of copyright

Matters of copyright

Foundational to its art-based methodology, Raising Creativity co-opts snippets of copyrighted material to produce original documentary videos. In this post, I will discuss the details of the Copyright Act and explain how remix is justly used in my research.

.    I will admit from the outset, as an advocate of creativity I have never considered myself a real proponent of copyright. Copyright can sometimes seem outdated, stuffy, and stifling in today’s 21st century context, which is largely defined by how we now share, consume, and produce (digital) content (Jenkins, 2006). Because I believe we should do whatever we need to do to encourage creativity to flourish, I have been more apt to support Creative Commons, which Cucinelli (cited in Hoechsmann & Poyntz, 2012) describes as “a non-profit organization devoted to promoting ‘copyleft’ licensing and building a community where people share and build upon the work of others” (p. 181). Remix (i.e. copy-pasting to create something new) is a relatively new phenomenon in a digital sense and may at first be seen as countercultural because it defies traditional assumptions about copyright and intellectual property; however as technology has changed our “prosuming” (producing + consuming) habits (Hoechsmann & Poyntz, 2012), our laws have had to evolve alongside these so as to support new appropriated creative work. The good news is that the most recent edition of the Copyright Act does make some allowances within certain contexts so that information can be used and repurposed freely. This clause is called “fair dealing.”
.     According to barristers and solicitors Wanda Noel and Jordan Snel (2012), “the Copyright Act provides that it is not an infringement of copyright to deal with a work for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire, and parody, provided the dealing is ‘fair’” (p. 2). “Fair” means that only a short excerpt of a work can be used (less than 10%) and sources should always be cited. So, the fact that my work exists primarily as educational research (and secondarily as private study, criticism, and review) and that I borrow only short clips from cited sources designates my actions as “fair use.” Further, the Copyright Act permits the production of new works derived from copyright-protected works. This right is referred to as “non-commercial user-generated content” and can be found in section 29.21 of the Act. Every clip that I remix originated freely within the public domain, on YouTube. “‘Publicly available’ materials are those posted on-line by content creators and copyright owners without any technological protection measures” (Noel & Snel, 2012, p. 18). Noel and Snel explain,
.     [Students are permitted] to use copyright-protected works to create videos, DVDs, or
.     mash-ups . . . . The users’ right permits user-generated content created under provision of the
    Copyright Act to be disseminated. Dissemination includes uses such as posting a video to
    YouTube or a Web site” (p. 12).
Therefore my videos—which lawfully contain appropriated clips from other YouTube videos—can be lawfully uploaded to YouTube as new videos for lawful distribution as part of a recursive, synergistic, collaborative process rooted in “collective intelligence” (Jenkins, 2006). In an innovative alternative dissertation such as I am producing, I recognize the importance of ensuring institutional requirements are satisfied from all angles; copyright is one such consideration that my work is adhering to.



Hoechsmann, M., & Poyntz, S. R. (2012). Media literacies: A critical introduction.

.       West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide.
New York, NY: New York University Press
Noel, W., & Snel, J. (2012). Copyright matters! Some key questions & answers for
Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

Posted by Rebecca Zak

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