Thursday, January 19, 2012

Media Fair Use: What do you think?

Here at Digital Diner, we had a great discussion about yesterday's post about SOPA and PIPA.  We talked a little bit about the issues of pirating and reuse of media, although we veered away from the effects of the pending legislation.  Still, it was a really interesting discussion, and we'd like to hear what you think.  In particular, the second video in that post (reposted here) is an interesting mash-up of a whole bunch of movies.  We'd like to hear your opinion about it.  Please read through this post and then add your comments here on the blog.

Please watch the following video:

Hello from ant1mat3rie on Vimeo.

If you aren't familiar with it, watch the original Lionel Richie song:

Observations:  The first video above contains almost no original content.  Visually it is made of short snippets of other (mostly well-known) movies.  It clearly couldn't have been made without borrowing liberally from all those movie scenes.  The music is taken directly from Lionel Richie.  It is unlikely that the creator of this work got permission from any of the original content producers.  Posting this video to the internet essentially constitues a public performance.  It is unlikely that the creator of this video makes any money directly from this video, although it could be argued that it builds their reputation.

So, what do you think?  Is this stealing?  Should the original content producers be compensated for the use of their material?  It takes a lot of time and resources to make a movie, and in fact this video seems to be using the fact that these are popular/famous movies.  It wouldn't be the same if it were made of cut together snippets of home movies without famous actors.  Is the person who created this video doing something ethically or legally questionable?  Is this fair use?

Now look at it from another angle.  Did you enjoy the video?  Does it stand on its own as a piece of art?  Would this video substitute in any way for any of the original movies or music?  I certainly don't think there is a case where I would want to listen to the original music or watch one of the original films, but now I'd just watch this video instead.

Or taking it even further, were any of original content creators harmed by this video?  What did you feel about the old movie clips as you saw them?  It reminded me of some of those movies and actors and made me think that maybe I should go back and watch them.  In a sense it was promoting that body of work.

If you think that the original content producers should be compensated for their material, how far do you push that?  Should the clothing manufacturers be compensated every time their clothes appear on screen?  Should Arnold Schwarzenegger's hair dresser get paid every time he appears in public?

Finally, how do we make laws that allow artists to be fairly compensated for their work, cut down on blatant piracy and still not stifle creative expression?

Please post your opinion in the comments or email us.