Notes from the Open Video Conference, Day Two

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Summary of a couple of panels on Day 2:

Automated DMCA Takedowns and Web Video: Scott Smitelli, a professional sound designer and editor, is the fellow who wrote Fun with YouTube's Audio Content ID System, in which he tried to test out the limits of YouTube's fingerprinting system for audio. Conclusions: the software is mainly interested in the first 30 seconds of a song, and can be thwarted by pitch or time alterations of over 6% (which may be unhelpful to the musically sensitive among us, but there you go.) Kevin Driscoll and others from YouTomb discussed the January Massacre: the massive increase of takedowns in December, 2008 and January, 2009. On a graph, it looks like takedowns have dropped off since then, but that may be deceptive: in fact, it seems like things are being detected so fast (within ten minutes) that YouTomb can't keep track of them, or to put it another way: takedowns are low because stuff's never getting UP in the first place. A suggestion: that it would be great if every takedown left a webpage with a card saying, "This has been taken down," because in many cases, people are not aware of what they can't have. Oliver Day, also from YouTomb, told a chilling story: the original filmmaker who shot the clouds that were used in the Anonymous anti-Scientology ads had his original footage taken down--not in deference to those ads, but in deference to a Huffington Post anti-Giuliani parody of those ads. As Day put it, "The power is with the powerful": even though the original filmmaker's footage was there first, it was assumed that he was infringing the Huffington Post, and not the other way around.

Who Owns Popular Culture? Remix and Fair Use in the Age of Corporate Mass Media: This was the panel hosted by Jonathan McIntosh and featuring animator Nina Paley (of Sita Sings The Blues, Neil Sieling from the Center for Social Media, political remixer Elisa Kreisigner, Karl Fogel from questioncopyright.org, and OTW Board Member Francesca Coppa. The panel largely discussed what the policing of online video and the over-enforcement of copyright means for artists, remixers, and those interested in free speech. Nina Paley answered the question literally, by providing a list of who owns popular culture--or in her case, literally, the songs, mostly from 1927-28, that she used in Sita Sings The Blues, while Elisa Kreisinger evoked many the important visual artists, from Duchamp to Koons to Kruger to Lichtenstein to Warhol, for whom remixing and recontextualizing pop culture was a key artistic move. (She also showed her remixes of the Queer Housewives of New York City.)

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