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February 21, 2007


Sophia Tu

Your project looks solid. I particularly like the concept of using open standards to facilitate collaboration in mixing media. Here are some of my questions about your proposal:

who will determine whether the works are sufficiently transformative, and when/how will this policing occur?

What incentives do copyright holders have to allow their work to be used by the Remix Room, both in the performance area & the producers corner? There is a reason the music industry is entrenched in proprietary file formats - they don't want others to appropriate their content. How will you convince them that open standards are beneficial to everyone?

There is a strong sense that something you put creative energy into should be yours to keep. Even if they can't share it, people want to be able to hang on to what they have made. How will you address this attitude?

Cindy Liou

Comment: Remix Room, February 21, 2007

The project sounds very interesting, but I am interested in the fundamental issues of Fair Use. It seems to make sense to focus the project around audio material, since music sampling and mashups have frequently been the subject of copyright violation issues as compared to literary, visual, and video works on the Internet.

The benefit of casting the project in educational or non-profit terms has to do with the first factor of fair use, which deals with the nature of the work and its purpose. Non-commercial works will benefit from this factor. A concern to deal with is the third factor, which is the amount and substantially of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. This will vary wildly, but the remixing of audio samples tend to remain very similar to original works in ways that do not constitute fair use.

The project is a good idea of transforming copyrighted audio materials, but does not cover the copyright issues surrounding the remixing of video, visuals, and literary work. Most remix work I have seen online involve the combination of images and video clips set to music for “music videos,” fanfiction or fanart based on existing literature or graphic art, or mash-ups. All of these fields have been subject to litigation for fair use, and so it would be great to include them in your project as well.

I am also skeptical that copyright users will be satisfied that the remixing of their work will be confined to a particular space and subject to their control—there are countless ways of downloading or saving things from the Internet for private use and subject to redistribution, which is why the idea of controlling the spread of copyrighted information is so problematic on the Internet to begin with.

Benjamin Stokes

Just back from a trip (pardon the delay). I like the focus on music, the clear problem of differentiated access for novice mixers, and the semi-controlled domain of Second Life. I do second Sophia's concern about evaluating which pieces are sufficiently transformative. Yet solutions are needed. At MacArthur, we're beginning to ask how learning environments should change (to accommodate how young people are learning differently around digital media). And learning how to mix is a core skill, closely aligned with fair use protections, and perhaps requiring a distinctive environment.

Is a large co-mixing community critical to the learning process? If so, I think you might need to more explicitly say why -- because otherwise the simple solution would seem to be isolating the activity and preventing even educational broadcast (more like a one-week training session for aspiring DJs).

Good luck with your explorations!

Fred Smith

I too am a fan of this project. I'm looking forward to the presentations on it. It combines a lot of interesting concepts. On the one hand, you have the very concept of the "remix," which calls on a cultural practice that emphasizes the expressive power of synergy and of building upon hwat has come before. Then, there's the educational component, teaching people to use this synergy. Third there's the setting, virtual words. I'm excited to see how it goes.

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