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


Full Circle

This month, Dr. John Carlos was inducted into the Texas A&M University-Commerce’s Hall of Fame. This was an incredible moment in history for Dr. Carlos who attended TAMUC for only a brief period of time during which he experienced the turmoil of the first few years of integration  in this region of Texas.

At the time, the university had a different name, East Texas State University. The president of the university, James G. Gee, was a staunch segregationist who resisted integration until the very last minute when the state came down on him and forced him to allow African Americans admission to the school.

Carlos, who was originally from Harlem, NY, had heard of de jour segregation, but had never experienced it personally until he arrived at the airport in Dallas. In A Clear Channel, Carlos describes the segregated bathrooms and the filth of the one that was intended for black use only. Once on campus, he had to contend with Coach “Love it or Leave it” Delmer Brown who discriminated against his African American athletes. Carlos was not one to sit idly by and take such abuses.

During his speech on Saturday night, he recounted the story of how he almost left the school because of such racist behavior and how one student talked him into staying. Carlos’ spoke about the love that he now feels from the university and how often, in life, if you wait long enough, things will come full circle.

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 […]

Oral History: Glenda McKissic

Oral History: Glenda McKissic

Glenda McKissic was crowned the first African American Homecoming Queen at ETSU in 1972. We met her last summer when Joe Tave brought her to the screening of A Clear Channel. After the screening, she and I were talking about the documentary. One of the things that came up in our conversation was the death threat against her dear friend, Joe Tave. She said that she never knew about it at the time. She elaborated and explained that she had also received threats and abusive phone calls after winning Homecoming Queen.

Today, Glenda is an educator with a passion for activism, social justice and empowering young people. She stands as an example of strength and dignity today for the African American community.

In this interview, (there are five total) she discusses the influence that Joe had on her life during this intense period of integration in East Texas. Here, she talks about integration and the support she received from her family and community. Glenda is such a positive, amazing woman. She speaks with clarity, power and love while she remembers her adolescence. Growing up in a vehemently racist area of Texas, Glenda is a wonderful example of humanity in the face of adversity. Where others might be inclined to be bitter and angry, Glenda remains positive and full of hope for the future.

Jennifer Jones