Friday, July 30, 2010

LOC Adds Fair-Use Exemption: Remixing Just Got Easier (And Legal)

One area of teaching Film Studies that's always a migraine-level headache is getting the students to use media ethically. Kids always want to include clips from their favorite DVD when we do, for example, movie trailers.

Those migraines just got demoted to run-of-the-mill headache level, as the LOC and Copyright Office recently added an exemption to the DMCA protecting video remixing. The Electronic Freedom Foundation, which filed the original lawsuit explained
The new rule holds that amateur creators do not violate the DMCA when they use short excerpts from DVDs in order to create new, noncommercial works for purposes of criticism or comment if they believe that circumvention is necessary to fulfill that purpose. Hollywood has historically taken the view that "ripping" DVDs is always a violation of the DMCA, no matter the purpose.
"Noncommercial videos are a powerful art form online, and many use short clips from popular movies. Finally the creative people that make those videos won't have to worry that they are breaking the law in the process, even though their works are clearly fair uses. That benefits everyone — from the artists themselves to those of us who enjoy watching the amazing works they create.
So Scary Mary is now legal! (though, really, it always was since it's parody. It's just that now Disney doesn't have an argument) You can read the full rule-making order here.

Of course the key here is that term "for purposes of criticism or comment."  We still need to ensure students are using these clips for new purposes: analysis, satire, parody, etc.  But that's just good teaching.

Oh, and for those of you far more technically inclined than I am...they also announced that it's ok to jailbreak your iPhone!

On a similar note, while digging around their site I ran across the EFF's Teaching Copyright, a set of 5 lessons, with accompanying handouts.  While I can only dream about teachers giving me enough time to run a mock trial, I like this site in that it leans more towards exercising "thou shalts" in copyright, rather than "thou shalt nots."  I don't think it's our job to be the copyright police; we need to promote student work and creativity, rather than raising unnecessary roadblocks.

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