OTW Fannews: Playfulness and IP

Banner by Erin of Lawrence Lessig holding a light saber by the logo for the EFF, facing off against the logo of Liberation holding up cash and a DMCA notice.

  • The University of Buffalo hosted a lecture by intellectual property scholar Madhavi Sunder titled Learning by Doing. Sunder says. “’Copyright owners have tolerated much fan activity on the theory that lawsuits can turn fans’ love to hate. But the emergence of an ‘experience economy’ may lead some owners of cultural property to reconsider their laissez-faire attitude toward play’…But, Sunder says, that impulse raises caution flags about ‘the commoditization of fundamental human experiences and play.’…And because IP law is ‘fundamentally about promoting knowledge and learning,’ Sunder says, lawyers need to be careful to protect that goal, even when they are asked to help corporations turn such play into a commodity to be bought and sold.'”
  • One place rife with automated takedowns, which are particularly likely to be issued indiscriminately, is YouTube. Fortunately, as NPR put in its story title Record Label Picks Copyright Fight — With The Wrong Guy, IP scholar Lawrence Lessig had a video of a lecture taken down due to a small music clip within it. “At first, YouTube took it down. But being a copyright attorney, Lessig knew his rights. He was entitled to use these clips in a lecture under a legal doctrine known as fair use…Liberation Music eventually backed down. But Lessig decided to invoke another part of the copyright law, ‘which basically polices bad-faith lawsuits,’ he says — threats made fraudulently or without proper basis. Lessig is suing Liberation Music because he wants labels to stop relying on automated systems to send out takedown notices.”
  • As vidders well know, hosting sites for their fanworks tend to be more limited than those for other media, and they have often booted fan content entirely when the sites changes their marketing focus. The latest site to evict fan videos is Blip.tv, which deleted content within the past week. The OTW has some tips about alternatives for video makers and the top pick is Critical Commons. Though academic in nature, they welcome fanworks, support fair use, and provide a good alternative to commercial sites such as Vimeo and YouTube. The site already hosts some key works that are part of vidding history.
  • A new software program, Plotagon, offers a way to create a paint-by-numbers fanwork. “Available for Mac and PC, the basic ‘city’ version of Plotagon software is free and includes five actors and six environments. To create a Plotagon movie, users simply choose characters and an environment, type a script, add a few stage directions and press ‘play.’ Plotagon movies can be shared online and viewed at Plotagon.com/movies.” Properties include Alice in Wonderland and Pride and Prejudice.

What fanwork and intellectual property stories have you seen? Write about it on Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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