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

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.”

Writing, Blogging, and Website Editing?

All in a day’s work.

So we’re using Dreamweaver to bring our prototype to life, and it’s a bit tricky for the non-techies that we are. Luckily, we have the assistance of David Moseley and the Faculty Center for Teaching with Technology to help out. Mindful of our own personal ignorance, Shannon had the idea that we would write a Process Paper of sorts to assist the uninitiated. 

Well, for me, the Process Paper was something new. I did a little research about them, and they all seemed to tell about how you go about conducting your research–nice but not really what I need. Even so, I started writing one, and got a wonderful paragraph from David about Dreamweaver (since even after using it for two weeks, it’s still largely beyond me), and his help in getting the steps right.

I’ve attached a few pics to show what I mean, but more information about the process and its accompanying paper will be coming in another post soon.

A place in time

One of my duties includes developing the timeline for the prototype. The timeline (along with its trusty friend, the map), we feel, is important because it allows us to situate ourselves and our viewers in a certain time and place, essential for understanding the issues of race, racism, and race relations in the United States.

While I’m pretty certain about the dates I feel we desperately have to include—you can’t talk about racism on a college campus without putting blacks on that previously all-white campus, so of course we need Sweatt v. Painter and the year 1950, to prove that if southern state governments did not provide equal college educations to black and white students, then they could not provide separate college educations to black and white students. We also need Brown v. Board of Education and 1954, which eradicated de jure racial segregation in the form of separate public schooling to black and white students. While these dates are easy to draw upon, others might be less obvious to the casual observer. Of course February 21, 1965, must be included because it’s the date of Malcolm X’s assassination, but what about including April 3, 1964, when he reached out to fellow black activists and indicated his hope that, despite their religious differences, they could work together to effect change.

All of these dates tell a story. I work to define what story we need to tell, and therefore, which dates are included or excluded in our timeline. As I work, I know that I am not portraying the entire story—such a thing is impossible—but our hope is that from this one, tiny story of this one point in the whole of human existence, many stories, other stories, different stories, will flow.

Telling the story, however, has been the challenge. First we toyed with the idea of just having dates and words, but that does not really fit with the techy savvyness (new word, I know) of what we’re trying to do. Then we talked about hyperlinks to pre-made webpages, but that was dismissed as not techy enough, too. We heard wondrous things about Timeline, but, unfortunately, it does not lend itself to how we need the timelines to function. Neatline fascinates me in a weird, nerdy, OCDish (another new word) kind of way, but David (our media techy savvy man) has just suggested Prezi. I have seen Prezis, but am looking forward to some hardcore training on them (just as soon as a master Dreamweaver). We shall see what path our timeline takes, but whatever path it is, we know it will be awesome (because we are awesome).

Kelly Dent

Collaborating in the Digital Humanities

Remixing Rural Texas is a true collaboration. I am fortunate enough to be working with a group of brilliant and hardworking scholars like Shannon Carter, Kelly Dent, Adam Sparks and Sunchai Hamcumpai. We spent today in the CLiC office going over every inch of the first half of the storyboard for A Clear Channel. This included citing numerous sources, links to artifacts, research on the spot and editing.

As Adam edited the video, Kelly researched, helped us find artifacts on the wiki and kept us organized. I worked on the storyboard to ensure that every single piece of audio, imagery and video was accessible and clear on the board while making sure that all was in order. Sunchai worked from Denton on specific imagery that needed retouching and detailing for the highest resolution possible as well as generating citations for the bibliography.

It would not be possible to generate such a powerful documentary without everyone working together in such a positive manner. We continue to push forward to meet our deadlines with a spirit of true collaboration, hard work and talent.

While our fearless leader (Dr. Carter) meets with scholars in Santa Fe this week, we will continue working on this piece for the rest of the week.

Jennifer Jones