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Copyright, Mashups/Remixes, and Film Majors

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A Warning: I’m excessively tired today. I will do my best to work through my tiredness, but if something doesn’t quite make sense, that is why. Also I’m cramming a lot into one entry, so this is going to be kind of lengthy. I apologize.

*Disclaimer: I am not a legal expert. I am not a copyright expert. I do not know the details of any given copyright act. If you are reading this looking for legal advice, leave now and ask a real lawyer or a real 3rd year law student.*
Copyright is a complicated and misunderstood beast. People in official positions tend to be hesitant around copyright and people who live their lives or make their livelihoods off of the internet tend to be disdainful of copyright.* People under a certain age or who hold certain political/ideological beliefs tend either to believe that copyright was created for “The Man” to better “The Man” and to screw everyone else (especially creators, whatever their ilk) or think that copyright is one of the last defenses against the world being ruled by hooligans. Obviously there are people who reside in the middle, but their voices tend not to be heard because the people on the extremes are absurdly loud. I’m not going to claim that copyright is perfect. It’s not. There are aspects of copyright law that need to be improved to line up with how the world works now as opposed to twenty or even ten years ago. But because of the way a few government-backed commercial entities choose to enforce copyright, the entirety of copyright gets a bad name. But it’s not all bad. I recently argued in my thesis, and had previously argued in a paper for the music law class I took in London, that ultimately copyright was created and to a certain still benefits creators of creative works. The issue, at least in my mind, is that people expect to get everything for free or that just by creating something they will earn money. When those things don’t happen, they blame copyright because it’s a little behind the times (which is the fault of politicians and lobbyists for groups who refuse to catch up with the present) and a fairly easy target. All of this frustrates me because I know that at the heart of copyright is a really good principle namely that a person can make money from something they create and can protect that work from being stolen by someone else (and if they do there will be consequences.) I think that nowadays people forget that because of jerks and idiots. So the next time you curse the name of copyright, think about what copyright helped to create and maybe invest some time in actually learning a bit about copyright outside of what your teachers tell you. You might just surprise yourself.

Some things are best discovered on your own. Some of my favourite pieces of literature, music, film, and television were discovered by mere coincidence and stumbling onto things. To me, mashups and remixes are things you should discover on your own. When placed in a class format, these mediums have a tendency to lose something in translation, something that can’t be defined and can’t be reattained once they are lost. I understand why some educators might want to incorporate mashups and/or remixes in their class, or at the very least discuss them, but to me there are more important things to talk about, to discuss, to learn. If I’ve learned anything in the past four years, I’ve learned that there really does have to be a certain amount of distance between what you’re learning and when it happened for you to really understand the implications of that thing. I was trying to say that in class and I may not have gotten my point across as well as I would have liked, but there has to be a certain amount of distance for the true implications of an event to be understood. I love discovering new and exciting things, but I know I can’t really analyze them until there’s been some time between when I discovered it and when I analyze it. Others may not agree, but to me it’s more important to have a solid foundation in what’s come before than to spend all your time focusing only on the present. Perspective is an incredibly important thing and it’s something that may be taken for granted when you spend all your time online (a medium that lives entirely in the present and never looks back.) So while I understand the arguments presented by Ms. McBride and Mr. Lamb, I don’t agree with them.**

Film Majors
Here’s a definition of what film studies is from Wikipedia***: Film studies is an academic discipline that deals with various theoretical, historical, and critical approaches to films. It is sometimes subsumed within media studies and is often compared to television studies. Film studies is less concerned with advancing proficiency in film production than it is with exploring the narrative, artistic, cultural, economic, and political implications of the cinema.
Here is a list of schools outside of New York and LA who have film majors:

  • George Mason University****
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Wesleyan University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Temple University
  • Boston University
  • Cornell University
  • Yale University
  • American University
  • University of North Carolina School of the Arts

It’s unfortunate (but not all that surprising) that UMW doesn’t have a film major. The chances of UMW having a film major within the next five to ten years is slim to none. This is sad.***** But that doesn’t mean film majors don’t exist. They just don’t exist here.

*I may or may not be anthropomorphizing copyright right now. And so what if I am? You try writing a 10 page paper and spending countless hours thinking about something and not become a little attached to it.
**I should hasten to add that part of the reason I don’t agree with them is that I have very old fashioned views on how education should work. Like 19th century ideas. I blame having to teach myself throughout most of K-12.
***The foremost repository of all knowledge, besides The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy obviously.
****This is where my sister goes. She’s a Film and Video major. She got very upset when I told her what Prof. Groom said. This last part of the entry is mostly for her. And a little bit for me.
*****I’m not actually that sad that we don’t have a film major. A) The last thing this school needs is more pretentious white people and b) I grew up with three cinephiles, I don’t need my campus to be invaded by them.

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