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Stomped by Lawyers

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Jeremy Brooks

There is a imprint from that boot labeled “copyright violation” across my face. I got stomped… and likely deserved it.

I had a eight-baked idea to do a video response to Dave Cormier and George Siemens in their call for videos about the future of education for a short course they are teaching. I’m not big on pontifications or hanging predictions out in the air (me of the William F Gibson Model of the Future).

Then after seeing that David Wiley took a well delivered prediction of continued same-ness (so clean you might not get the parody tag?), I figured the snark gloves were off– a wild idea emerged in my feverish undersized canine skull to do a little mashup of a popular movie with some substituted dialogue. And a few fun jabs at my friend and intertubes sparring buddy, Jim Groom.

Source clips were easy enough to find, and I spent about 2/5 hours in iMovie assembling it. Now, if you see it, I will eb first to say the production quality is awful, my actors I hired for voices should never work, and likely, it is not even funny.

But also… in present terms, its pretty much a copyright faux pas in the eyes of the studio that owns it. I really did not mashup too much, re-arranged just a few scenes, and overlaid my own dialogue in a few places. I knew that.

On the other hand, when you get close to it, the grey line between what you can or cant doo gets wide and fuzzy. I became curious what happened when you tried to post it.

YouTube cranked on it like 20 minutes after upload, and then I got an email saying it was deleted due to violation of terms of services. GUILTY! I am wondering if they have this automated, as that bit of technology for matching is impressive.

Someone on twitter suggested Dailymotion as a place where more gray things float. Again, it was a 35 minute upload, I saw a preview, but the public link always said processing… and when I checked today, it had been deleted due to violation of terms of service. GUILTY!

And yeah, I could embed it on my own web page, and eventually I will get one of those threatening take down emails from a Boot Wearing IP Lawyer.

I don;t care if anyone sees my crappy movie (30mb); it was more worth it to see what happens when you enter that gray zone, or more likely, cross it. It is damned murky, and you can only find hints of the edge by crossing over.

That said, I have even a higher appreciation and respect for people who do really good mashups. You may think it is some greasy haired kid in the basement with a PC clutching a Mountain Dew in Cheetoes covered fingers (actually for me it was Dos Equis and some nacho chips, and yep, need a bath). Doing it well is damned hard. You have to analyze the source in incredible detail. It is not just copy paste, especially if you want to match dialogue. It is super-creative to recast one story line into a new one, or to match different forms into something new.

If you think mashups, remixes, re-edits is just some easy copy/paste done by “kids” then go ahead and try it- it is not trivial.

Me? I’ve been caged.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by crossfirecw

I am taping foil in my windows and bolted bars across the doors, cause the steel-booted enforcers are coming.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I am not a lawyer blahblahwhatever but running through Fair Use Criteria

    1 Character of work (is it transformative?)

    Yep — clearly this is a new and different work. A session at SXSWi on Fair Use suggested a “laugh test”. If it makes you giggle, it’s because you see it as a distinct work. The example at the session was similar — it took a long-serious scene from The Godfather and turned it into something funny. That means it’s transformative

    2. Nature of copyrighted work.
    It’s already published and distributed (i.e., you’re not scooping them on their chance to publish an original work), so tends toward fair use.

    3. Substantiality.
    fine, it’s a longish clip, but not much in comparison to the whole film. A counter-case could be made that this is a key, pivotal scene at the core of the film. But the counter-counter case is that that’s why it is essential to the new message of your video. It’s not like you gave away the really key moment of the film! (“She’s a guy.” Wait, wrong movie. “Bruce Willis’ character is dead”)

    4 Market effect.
    Yeah, as if this video substitutes for buying a copy of the movie? Puh-leeeze.

    So I say, bring on the lawyers!

    Or at least have some real lawyers comment on the fair use issues here.

    P.S. Love the scary jim groom showing up. Just one more reason for me to have edupunk/jim groom nightmares.

  2. And to add to Brian’s point the irony of Google closing down its search engine in China to do the right thing for “censorship.” Fact is, by scanning every video that comes on YouTube and shutting don flagged uploads they are engaging in a censorship of creativity in the digital age that has dire consequences of its own. What we have with the collusion of global media corporations and the various internet distribution hubs is a crackdown o creativity, an outlawing of expression that can only end in the worst kind of political repression at the hands of our corporate benefactors.

  3. So we’ve been pondering the complicated-nesses of copyrightfair useaccessibility. Apparently captions are another form of copyrighted work. If you have perms to play the sung version of, say, Lady GaGa’s Telephone, that doesn’t mean you have the perms to caption it.

    Ok, GaGa’s Telephone not the most academic example, I’m just loving the pomo discourse around it… 🙂

  4. @Suzanne Recaption away. The “Hitler” series on YouTube demonstrates the fair use potential of recaptioning.

    Don’t fold to overstated claims about copyright/fair use. The evidence of their overstatements (dare I say intimidation? Fuck yes.) is well documented.

  5. Actually, adding captions (if they are not just lyrics, but commentary) is one way to assert academic fair use.

    This is a fantastic resource on the subject:

    Not that your rights matter when the people who own your tools and your content are using automated algorithms to cover their asses from any conceivable legal threat.

  6. Thanks Alan for sharing sixth sense edupunk, but would the future education be delivered by edupunk? I am scared if the kid said that he was employed by Google, but turned down the offer and decided to become a brain surgeon. Would you visit such brain surgeon who diagnosed using sixth sense? What a sense of humour, so implicit, and requires us to think!
    More people needs to produce such amazing resources, for us to reflect what future of education really means.

    1. Hi John,

      I have never said or thought edupunk could replace education as we know it; I remain interested that we usually see things as either or. What I imagine are some virtues aspects of edupunk to hopefully be part of a transformation of education into some new form.

      There must be a name for the length of time a discussion about online learning can last before someone says, “would you want your brain surgeon/pilot to be someone who learned their skill online?”

      Of course no one would want someone in those positions to have not had some bit of certification by capable bodies and also that they are skilled in programs of doing this things hands on under the supervision of more experienced practitioners.

      But is that always the case? And aren’t there aspects of learning to be a pilot or a doctor that can be facilitated by online resources?

      I see both in the future, not either/or.

      1. Hi Alan, I share your views too, and there are virtues of edupunk, being part of the transformation of education.
        A risk management approach has been adopted by most educational institutions and professional associations for doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, teachers (in some states/countries) etc., especially when licensing and certification is important in such professions. Online facilitation with online resources could be useful for the professional development of some of these professions, however, informal learning is still not fully “recognised” due to many reasons. I think online facilitation in particular professions – medical doctors and lawyers is still at an early stage of e-education/learning develolpment, as the traditional practice is based on lectures and physical practice, as could be seen in most universities – MIT & Stanford “virtual lectures sessions”

  7. My concerns, warranted or not, have to do with the the tensions educational institutions are feeling regarding steep budget cuts and market forces ala students seeing schooling (higher ed) as a commodity, and schools seeing themselves as service providers. In short, I’m concerned about quality. Really. In my heart I’m an edupunk, and love the idea of informal learning and dyi approaches to teaching/learning, but there are demographic trends that complicate the picture. There’s a growing number of college bound folks for whom English is a second language, who have barely squeaked by graduating high school, who have complicated familial situations that make “a college education” both necessary yet a burden. This is going to likely shape public higher education more than any forward thinking ideals we share.

    One reason why I as a consumer-citizen want board certifications and legitimate degrees is because I don’t want to have to do the vetting myself. I want to know that the Joe/Jane fixing my car or my lungs knows what the hell they’re doing.

    And no, the choice rhetoric is utter bullsh**t. It’s a suck on my quality of life. I’m unabashedly unamerican on that point. Give 4 choices of quality product/service, not 104, 100 of which are kaka.

    Happy Easter 😉

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