FreePlayMusic? I Don’t Think So

One of the things that is the most important when creating and using artifacts found on the internet and one of the basic philosophies that we hold, it that culture should be free (See Lessig and RRT’s own extensive discussion of permissions). Because I am the only team member to have had the opportunity to take Dr. Carter’s course on New Media, I have a deeper understanding of Lessing’s philosophy and how careful we must be when using artifacts found on the internet. However this complex issue continues to challenge even the most savvy users. We’ve been confronted again with the fact that, unfortunately, Culture is Not Free.

Anyone who is the least familiar with copyright law will understand this. Disney, being one of the top litigators for use of their material, (which makes it even sadder that they now own the Star Wars franchise) will sue the skin off your back for using any image that falls under their copyright.

Modern technology has altered the way that we use and share information. This is why Lawrence Lessig wrote Free Culture, a book that you can download for free which outlines how copyright power has changed over the past 40 years including how this industry has successfully used the legal system to limit competition to the major media corporations through legal action, thereby protecting their profits. Remember Napster? This all culminates into Lessig’s philosophy and reasoning behind the creation of Creative Commons.

This leads me to our latest dilemma. A team member mistakenly used a large amount of music from a particular website (which shall not be named) that claims, in its title, to offer “free” music to the public. However, as we near the end of this portion of the project, we find ourselves returning yet again to the “Terms and Conditions” to just to be sure. In our initial negotiations, it seemed our use fell within the parameters they’d set for free use. Adam (our video editor) decided to call directly. The first question was not how it would be used but where it would be posted. They asked: “Will it be on YouTube?” If the answer to that question was yes, nothing else mattered. That’s $400 a song. We used portions of six different songs. We did the math. Yikes.

Now we could probably find funding to support our uses of these songs. Given the amounts invested in our project thus far, this sum is hardly significant. However, it is NOT what we wanted our project to be.

It is very important to us that the source materials we use in our remix be available to others for reuse in new projects. For this reason, where ever possible we licensed everything we created ourselves through Creative Commons. We made extensive use of archival materials that are widely available. As often as possible, we drew from materials that carried a Creative Commons license or were in the Public Domain. Our project foregrounds permissions for primarily these reasons (for more about permissions within the prototype, visit “prototype“; for more about permissions within the project in general, visit “permissions“).

Needless to say, Adam is actively working towards finding new music that is actually FREE. Lucky for us, he is optimistic and not overwhelmed at all (like I would be). This does prove to be a powerful lesson for anyone who is using artifact (video, images, audio, and music) from the internet to be cautious about your choices. You should always make sure that your work falls within the legal guidelines. There are dozens of sites that allow fair use of the material.

Jennifer Jones


Touring Louisville’s Civil Rights History

This gallery contains 84 photos.

Dr. Carter and Kelly attended the Watson Conference in Louisville, KY, earlier this month. While there, they discovered that the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research at the University of Louisville has a Civil Rights Driving Tour available, as well as a documentary about Anne Braden. Attached are various photographs from the tour. We […]

John Carlos will be a Featured Speaker at CCCC 2013!

The Conference on College Composition and Communication will feature John Carlos! The conference theme “The Public Work of Composition,” which seems absolutely fitting, don’t you think? That’s certainly what I thought the moment of picked up the CFP for CCCC 2013 last April. There, sitting at a sidewalk cafe in St. Louis, Missouri, still buzzing with the excitement and sheer exhaustion of CCCC 2012, I set to work on my proposal for the next year’s meeting–not because I am the sort who plans a year ahead but because CCCC review cycles require it. I knew I wanted to share something form our digital humanities project featured at this blog (Remixing Rural Texas). I knew I wanted to include at least one of the local activists featured in our remixes: Joe Tave (ETSU, 1965-1969), founder and president of the highly influential Afro-American Student Society of East Texas in 1968; John Carlos, the sprinter from Harlem who was introduced to both racism in the South (directly) and the Olympic Project for Human Rights (in a national sports magazine) while a student on this campus in 1966-1967, both of which would change his life.

John Carlos, I told myself, would be a perfect keynoter for us. That theme couldn’t be more perfect! But how are keynoters selected? I had no idea. I went back to my hotel, packed up the rental car, then sat down in the lobby to see what Howard Tinberg thought about it. As chair of CCCC 2013, he was responsible for that beautiful CFP that got me thinking in these ways. And a really nice, generous man. Why not? I wasn’t certain Dr. Carlos would be available, but he has always been so incredibly generous and willing to take on just about any kooky idea I might come up with.

Howard was on board. Carlos was on board. Howard asked for a proposal, which he could share with the CCCC EB. That turned into the abstract, which promotes the featured session. I get the opportunity to chair. I can’t wait! (Carlos will also be joining us at the Writing Democracy workshop the previous Wednesday and in our panel session Saturday–and so will Joe Tave! What a great event this will be!).–Shannon Carter

The Silent Protest: Open Hands, Closed Fists, and Composition’s Political Turn

Chair:  Shannon Carter, Texas A&M-Commerce

In 1968, at the Mexico City Olympics, sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith called the world’s attention to the persistence of racism. That single iconic image of two Americans, black-gloved fists raised and heads bowed as the national anthem played and millions booed, remains indelibly etched in our collective memory.

In 2013, as Howard Tinberg calls upon us to consider “The Public Work of Composition,” it seems only fitting that we should return to this moment in conversation with one of the protesters: Dr. John Carlos. Indeed, the silent protest and its aftermath graphically illustrates both the power of what Edward Corbett called “the Closed Fist” and the excruciating limits of his “Open Hand” (CCC, 1969). It also calls upon us to consider our organization’s shifting position on the relationship between the composition classroom and the rest of society: our neighborhoods, communities, regions, America, and the world.

Yet for decades the individuals behind the Silent Protest have been rendered silent, effectively removed from any public discourse controlling the meaning of that powerful statement. Until very recently, the mass movements represented in that moment were largely absent from our public spaces and our conferences. We have been “civil”—our firsts closed, hands open.  Silent. Compliant. As Nancy Welch has argued “civility functions to hold in check agitation against a social order that is undemocratic in access to decision-making voice and unequal in distribution of wealth” (“In Defense of Uncivil Rhetoric,” forthcoming).

No doubt our fists are closed again. Our fists raised together, we chant, “We are the 99%,” “We are Troy Davis,” and, most recently, “We are Trayvon Martin.” The Internet Boycott effectively shelves dangerous legislation. We “Occupy” every major city in the nation. We are writing democracy across the world as the Arab Spring gives way to the Occupy Moment, the Internet Boycott , recurring challenges to persistent racism. More than 40 years later, the Closed Fist of the Silent Protest resonates as never before. It is time for CCCC to return to this iconic moment and take stock. .


Dr. John Carlos is a medaled USA Track and Field Hall of Fame athlete and Olympian. Competing in the 200 meters, Carlos earned the Gold in the 1967 Pan American Games, and the Bronze in the 1968 Olympics.

Dr. Carlos made world history during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico, when he took to the international stage during the medal ceremony and made a speechless statement, heard and seen worldwide. Winning the 200 meter, John Carlos accepted the Bronze medal at the Olympic podium wearing black socks and no shoes to represent impoverished people who had no shoes of their own, and raised a black-gloved fist crowning a bowed head to humbly reflect the strength of the human spirit.

Continuing his life-long mission to improve human rights conditions and to increase chances for the successes of our youth, Dr. Carlos is actively involved with global and community movements. In April of 2008, he once again took to the international stage and was a torch-bearer for the Human Rights Torch, which ran in parallel to the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay, and focused attention on China’s human rights record. In July of the same year, Dr. Carlos accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for his salute at the 2008 Espy Awards.

John Carlos, Texas A&M-Commerce Hall of Fame!

On October 27, 2012, Dr. John Carlos will be inducted in the Texas A&M-Commerce Hall of Fame (formerly East Texas State University)! It has been a long time coming, I am afraid. Even so, we are very proud of this former ETSU track star (1966-1967), for breaking a world record while a student on this recently desegregated campus and for the global fight for social justice that dominated his life in the decades since. –Shannon Carter

I can see clearly now

In the Special Collections

On August 9th, we invited a group of alumni, current students, and our team members to view our latest remix, A Clear ChannelPart I of the remix opened to rave reviews from all who have seen it so far. The remix includes John Carlos and his protest at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and Joe Tave and the work of his creation, the Afro-American Student Society of East Texas (ASSET).

Joe Tave, Shirley Daniels, and Belford Page

Attendees examine some of Joe Tave’s personal artifacts

We were fortunate to have Joe Tave join us, along with Floyd and Shirley Daniels, Gwen Lawe, Belford Page, and Glenda McKissic Baylor. After showing the remix, which they all raved about, we headed to lunch, and then to the Special Collections, where they were able to see some of the artifacts we used in both our research and in the compilation of the film. Even more exciting: They took the opportunity to fill in many important gaps, with a series of conversations about their experiences and memories that brought the archives alive in ways everyone involved could only describe as “magic.”