Copyright Office Cites Fan Vids In Recommending New Exemptions

It’s worth noting, if you didn’t parse everything released with the new DMCA exemptions announced yesterday, that the fan vids in the OTW’s Test Suite of Fair Use Vids (Women’s Work by Sisabet and Luminosity, This Is How It Works by Lim, Handlebars by Seah and Margie, and Closer by Killa and T. Jonesy) as well as additional vids that we presented at the DMCA hearings last year – Lierdumoa’s How Much Is That Geisha In The Window, Lim’s Us, and Luminosity’s Vogue – are discussed in the Register of Copyright’s Recommendation to The Librarian of Congress. (You can download the entire .pdf, which is searchable.)

For instance, Lierdumoa’s vid helped to convince the Register that vidders need access to high quality source:

“Noncommercial, transformative users have also sufficiently demonstrated that certain uses require high quality in order for the purpose of the use to be sufficiently expressed and communicated. For instance, where focus on background material in a motion picture is essential to the transformative purpose, as exemplified in the situation of bringing the background to the foreground, the use of decrypted DVDs is necessary to make the point. One particular example of “bringing the background to the foreground” was demonstrated in the vid, How Much Is That Geisha In The Window, by Lierdumoa. This vid criticizes and comments upon Joss Whedon’s science fiction television series Firefly. The series incorporates Asian culture and art, but the vid demonstrates that almost no Asian characters are featured and that they appear only in the background.”

The Register also discussed the timing, characterization, editing, and message of the other vids, concluding that, “frequently when one is engaging in commentary about audiovisual works, it is necessary to use high quality reproductions in order to make one’s point.”

The OTW is grateful to these vidders for allowing their work to appear in our Test Suite and for sending their work with us to Washington. Concrete examples made using high quality source are crucial to our arguments, and it is also vital for us to know about your stories, experiences, expectations, and practices. As we noted in our announcement of the exemption, we’ll have to do this again in two years, and the Copyright Office will once again require evidence of the need for an exemption. You can help strengthen our case by leaving a comment or emailing the OTW’s Vidding Committee at any time.

In related news, we are continuing to keep track of press about the DMCA exemptions, so keep an eye on our links post. We are also proud to launch a Press Room to serve as a focal point for media contact and to collect media mentions of our work, as well as our own OTW press releases.

5 thoughts on “Copyright Office Cites Fan Vids In Recommending New Exemptions

  1. This is all well and good, but the overwhelming majority of fanvids are not exactly about making critical commentry on the source works… what about those? Is there any kind of quality restriction?

    1. We’re using critical as a synonym for analytical, in the sense of constructing a “reading” of the source text.

      So a shipper vid – one that celebrates the love between two characters, or creates a deeper relationship between them, or emphasizes the relationship between them, or sometimes even constructs it out of almost nothing–is a reading of the text that changes how you see it, or re-prioritizes the values of the original. Slash is almost always a critical reading, and implicitly a political one. Lots of vids are about emphasizing characters who aren’t central, giving them their own screen time, making them the central character for three minutes. Or a vid can create a crossover world between two or more tv shows or movies, or look for patterns across a whole array of different texts (the “garbage can” or multimedia vid, for instance.)

      All of these are making critical commentary in the sense of making an analytical reading!

      Are all vids GOOD in terms of quality? No. But a bad student paper isn’t any less a piece of criticism than a good one! I guess what you could say is that a bad vidder is trying, and failing, to say something new, or failing to communicate whatever it is that they wanted to communicate, even if it’s a reading as simple as “Harry and Hermione ought to have ended up together instead of Ron and Hermione, because (as I will show you in this vid!) they are so made for each other.”

      Just to add explicitly: and the attempt to communicate shouldn’t be illegal! even if some people do it better than others! We all improve by practice.

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