CT&D #76. Beebe vs. Rauschenberg: Copyrights and Fair Use

Spread the good word and contribute to the community!
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

After reading and learning about the Beebe vs. Rauschenberg case/ordeal, my understanding of where Rauchenberg was coming from was that he believed “his” work (while not 100% original or genuine) could be still looked as a “new” concept given the artistic differences in composing the photo. Also considering the fact that Rauschenberg’s piece incorporates other printed images (which in addition may or may not be his), I get the sense that the piece was supposed to represent an amalgamation of art capturing the essence of the time period or zeitgeist (his letter references current events from and before 1977).

Despite Rauschenberg’s intent to use his work to pay homage to other creative minds, Beeb considered him taking his photo without permission to be infringing on his intellectual property. This is problematic because it could lead to two things: confusion over who actually created the image and money being given to someone who’s work had to come from someone else.

Being a creative-minded person and a student in digital media, I am always aware of the ever perennial issue of copyrights, credit, fair use and plagiarism. We learn this from grade school: copying is cheating. It’s not integrity, academically or legally. As such, my opinion has, still and always will be that artists and creators should always be credited for their work IF and ONLY if said work is not being used to make a profit on by another individual, organization, etc. The ever popular video sharing site YouTube is a hotbed for online creators and producers to review works of the film, TV and video game industries where elements of having to show excerpts of these media is crucial to educate an audience. This is OKAY because the intent is to CREDIT the efforts of works that other people made and offer praise and criticism directed toward them.

Where it is wrong is when an online producer/creator creates a video mashup of which its sources come from various TV shows/films/games even to the point where the edits make it seem that the resulting product has a different plot, changed characters and different tone (comedy, absurdism, parody). In these cases, I’ve personally seen many of these mashups being taken down because many of these producers claim the sources that made up these videos as theirs without crediting the proper productions they originate from. Kind of like in Rauschenberg’s case: inspired to create but forgetful of the act of imitation one commits outright.

In my opinion, I see this issue growing more and more as we progress into the future of digital media, dare I say, media in general. It’s so easy for anyone to create videos, even to create musical remixes and “photochops” (a mashup of graphics coming from a number of sources usually to evoke a meme or absurdist idea) without giving credit.

However…I also am critical of those who want to protect their rights because again with YouTube, I’ve learned of cases where even if one credits their work, the videos still go down. Some corporate-based companies like Viacom are relentless with sending out takedown notices on YouTube channels because in their minds, the website encourages viewer traffic to go toward free watching online than onto your TV or buying DVDs of their shows the proper way. I understand their actions regarding people uploading recordings as being damaging to the company but that doesn’t necessarily mean to also punish those who promote their content and credit them properly. That’s like saying having a works cited or bibliography isn’t good enough. At least Beeb was willing to accept Rauschenberg’s work when his name was given a co-credit as it should be. Why can’t this be the norm to combat issues like these?

Credits:

http://greg.org/archive/2012/07/03/beebe_v_rauschenberg_declaring_victory.html (a separate article on the same topic, but mentions “fair use, legit representation, or rip-off?” when addressing Rauschenberg’s work)

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/ViacomYouTubeComplaint3-12-07.pdf (Viacom vs. YouTube case)

Facebook Comments