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

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

Lessig would be (should be) Proud

Remixing Rural Texas is a multi-dimensional project that incorporates remix with deep research in the archives, oral history and the collection of artifacts, as well as rich technological aspects that includes the use of new software from Mozilla, Popcorn. Using Dreamweaver to code the data into Popcorn, we are essentially incorporating a scholarly document into our remix and ultimately raising the bar on future academic remix projects.  (I think Lessig would be proud.)

However, this ambitious project comes with a cost. What we have discovered as we code all of the data, is that each minute element has to be exactly right before we input. That makes sense, right? And yet, it’s really no different than any creative endeavor, academic paper or writing project because, in the end, there are always edits that can be made. Just as with any creative work, the question becomes, When is it complete?

At some point, you have to accept that the project is coming to a close  and that it is complete. We are tying up our loose ends, putting each little piece in its place and getting ready for the day when we release it to the world. Once it is complete, this will be a powerful educational tool for our students to learn more about our nation’s history and to begin a further exploration into the continuing process of the fight for civil rights that continues today.

Jennifer Jones


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