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


Teaching vs. Research

As a scholar working on Remixing Rural Texas, I have given up or forgone a year of vital teaching experience that my graduate program offers. At TAMUC, graduate assistants in the Literature & Languages Department are given the opportunity to teach first year writing. This experience is critical when we complete the program and hit the job market (which is very tough right now). When Dr. Carter offered me this position almost a year ago, I was, admittedly, very concerned about missing out on a year of teaching. However, nearly a year into this project, I feel like I have learned more about my profession, education, New Media, research and grant writing than I ever could have if I had just spent the past year teaching.

What is occurring for me because of my involvement in RRT is that I am learning how to be a scholar as well as a teacher. One project that I began this year is an exhibition titled Women and Power: How Women Have Changed the World. I am in the process of applying for a grant through Texas Humanities. Dr. Robin Reid is supporting me in this effort and Dr. Shannon Carter, through CLiC, is my PI.

Women and Power looks at women throughout history and including modern women who are activists that have made a stand against social injustice to succeed in effecting positive change for their families, communities and nation(s). We will begin in the archives and draw on scholarship from within our own department as a means of beginning at the local level. We expand outwards into the larger nation to take a look at women across the country and eventually take our research to a global level. Part of the exhibition includes collecting oral histories from as many women as possible that will become part of a larger database of oral histories located in the archives of the Gee Library.

Part of my inspiration for this project was an independent study led by Dr. Carter last summer where I studied New Media and Critical Race Theory. In looking at the history of African Americans, I realized that there is a world of information about African American women as well as women of all race, nationalities and class that has not been counted or documented. One of my concerns is that modern media has created a constructed view of women, femininity, class and power that is completely false. My goal is to document and record Real Women who are living out loud and going against the grain of these socially constructed “norms” that only exist within the media.

If we were to move forward to 100 years into the future, how would our future selves view women today? What sources would they have beyond what is on TV, film, novels, radio? What would they think of us if all they knew was “Basketball Wives”, “Real Housewives of NYC”, “The View” or any number of television shows that only represent a small fraction of women and only women of a specific socio-economic class? I believe that it is important to create a new discourse about women and how they use power.

Part of my inspiration in the documentation of powerful women is the work of Studs Terkel. His work stands as a powerful resource for future historians and scholars as well as educators and students to study and understand the true narrative of our nation. Using his oral history methodology and resources, I hope to create as powerful a discourse on feminine power as Studs has for African Americans, War Veterans and the average American.

Jennifer Jones

Creativity is essential: By Adam Sparks

When I joined Remixing Rural Texas this past summer, I was given creative freedom on day one.  Dr. Carter, and the team, allowed me to have freedom piecing “A Clear Channel” together.  I was then able to create a video that I saw would encompass the emotions that were prevalent nationally and locally.  By doing this, we were able to create a prototype that gave the viewer a product that informed along with expressing emotion.  The emotional aspect of the events is essential to understand and study the issue in its entirety.

Watching the video, of course someone on the outside would not understand what was going through the minds of Joe Tave, Belford Page, John Carlos, or other local leaders without tying in the national emotion of the time, along with the local emotion.  Creativity in the video allowed us to tell the story more clearly.  One example of this was an idea that I had to use of the three gunshots just after the video of the JFK motorcade, along with the gunshots later on in the video.  Three shots were fired at President John F. Kennedy.  With the pictures of the Civil Rights Movement during each shot, we were able to express the emotional impact that the African American society felt, as hope was shattered by gunfire.  Later on in the video, the three gunshots abruptly erupt and stuns the peaceful music playing prior to it.  The three pictures are of the most infamous Civil Rights leaders of the 1960s (MLK, Malcolm X, and RFK) who were assassinated after JFK.

Creativity persists throughout the video from transitions, song choices, pans and zooms, along with locational choices of images and videos.  The art behind this video is only successful if it tells the story.  With that, the emotions have to be expressed, and we must look at the subject from different vantage points.  The national story of the 1960s was both tragic and renewing, violent and peaceful.  Those tensions occurred in all parts of the nation, along with ETSU.  By looking at the local story, along with the national story, one is able to fully understand the national impact on the local.  There are millions upon millions of local stories out there that need to be heard, and beg for attention… yet all too often we generalize and attempt to just focus on the big picture without giving credence to the foundation of that big picture.  Looking at local history builds that foundation.

My contributions was incorporating my background as a former Radio/Television student.  With my Bachelors in Radio/Television and earning a Masters in History, I feel that I fit in this project well.  To create a well rounded story, and a well rounded study, it is essential to work with various departments and backgrounds to find truth.  Even in building a video, I am not the only one who had input on the creative aspects of the video.  The collaboration of this project is what will allow Remixing Rural Texas to thrive.


Adam Sparks


Remixing Rural Texas is an innovative and exciting project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and led by Shannon Carter, PhD from Texas A&M University – Commerce. With a team that includes graduate students from Political Science, English and RTV, we are a diverse group who come at this project with a vast amount of experience and multiple perspectives.

I completed my MA in English and a certificate in Film Studies on May 12, 2012 and began working towards my PhD in June. I have a BFA in Art History from the University of North Texas and much of my graduate work has been focused on Film Aesthetics with a deep concentration on the work of film director Terrence Malick.

I was invited to work on this project after completing a graduate course in New Media with Dr. Carter in the Spring of 2011. My final project for that course was a re-mix video that included art, film and archival materials.  As an art historian, I also worked on a large project in the archives of TAMU where I catalogued the Oral History Collection. Because of my background in art, experience in the archives, and work with Dr. Carter in New Media, my role in this project is focused on the aesthetics of the project as well as deep research in the archives.

Using the archives, both local and national, I search for visual material relevant to each narrative. Further, I am archiving the Ivory Moore Collection that was donated to TAMU in the Spring of 2012. My experience with New Media and Re-mix Culture has given me a deeper understanding of the work that we are creating.

Further, working on this project has given me a deep understanding of Critical Race Theory and its goals. I continue to be inspired by the work of Dr. Carter and other scholars who stand for the transformation of race, racism and the power of media.

Jennifer Jones