Copyright, Culture, Fans

I’ve been running into references to academic/fan Henry Jenkins from MIT all over the place, so thought it likely that I should link to his blog, Confessions of an Aca/Fan. He talks about games, Firefly, and culture just on the current front page, so it’s bound to be interesting, no?

The latest reference to his blog came from over at chosaq, which discusses the relationship between YouTube and the RIAA, quoting from Confessions, which in turn quotes a post about YouTube and copyright from attorney Randy Picker. Are we all caught up? ^_^ (If you’d like to go further, Picker quotes Cory Doctorow from BoingBoing, which quotes…)

Basically, there have been reports that the RIAA (or someone pretending to be the RIAA) is sending cease & desists to YouTube. Picker believes that the RIAA sending cease & desists after YouTube is not a misuse of copyright. I disagree to some extent. I agree that those actions aren’t an abuse of copyright law, but I think that copyright law should be fixed to allow some of those uses. Copyright law has changed in the last few decades. Not all of the changes have been good or useful, and not all of the changes are sufficient to support the progress of science and useful arts, particularly in the digital environment. Jenkins notes that

We have to fight a two front battle here: help to rewrite copyright law to respect the new realities of the media landscape and help to convince media companies that it is in their best interest to build a more collaborative relationship with their consumers.

That’s an excellent statement about where copyright reform efforts should be. I’d add that somehow the nebulous concept of culture should be included with each of those fronts. The preservation of culture is a difficult thing, which certainly isn’t made easier by the complex beast that is Section 108.

Japanese broadcasters’ reactions to YouTube are pretty hostile, as reported by the Mainichi Daily News. They’ve also started sending C&D’s to YouTube, which in the article is described as “predatory” by a promotional agency. These are interesting actions for many reasons. Japan’s copyright law and the U.S.’s copyright law aren’t terribly similar. For example, the concept of fair use isn’t as protected in Japan as much as it is in the U.S. (however much that might be). YouTube is going to need to figure out how it’s services fit on the international copyright front, much like the search engines have had to.

It’s also interesting because of the practices of fans in Japan. Although Japanese copyright law appears pretty restrictive, commercial and noncommercial fan activities are common. These activities are notably seen in the form of doujin manga and games, which are fan-produced, and often derivative works. Doujin are open, often encouraged, and very popular. Fan activitiy related to Japanese works in the states have also played a role in the prevalence of anime and manga domestically (although for some reason companies are downplaying that role recently). Next post will talk about anime fandom, fansubs and more in the US.

1 Comment »

  1. chosaq » Japanese content industry against YouTube said,

    July 5, 2006 @ 2:37 am

    […] Copy this blog links to a recent Mainichi article that is a fine addition to my previous entry: “YouTube” Web site has Japan’s broadcasters in a tizzy. […]

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