Don’t copy anything, all right?

Several years ago I would record videos of myself singing at home or performing with local bands on stage and post them onto YouTube to share or keep simply for memories. Most of the songs belonged to famous artists; they were not our own. The performances were like singing karaoke on stage or performing a solo in the comfort of your own home. This was something everybody did, I thought.

Then one day I went onto my YouTube page to find these seemingly innocent videos marked with the copyright symbol and an “Includes copyrighted content” message. I was shocked, nervous, scared, like, oh my gosh, what did I do? After clicking the link, it said: 

Copyrighted content was found in your video. The claimant is allowing their content to be used in your YouTube video. However, ads might appear on it.

Reading further on YouTube’s What is a Contend ID Claim?, YouTube explained:

If you upload a video that contains copyright-protected material, you could end up with a Content ID claim. These claims are issued by companies that own music, movies, TV shows, video games, or other copyright-protected material.

Depending on the copyright owner’s policy, some Content ID claims prevent certain material from being available on YouTube. Others allow the video to remain live, while directing the advertising revenue to the copyright owners of the claimed content, like music.

I haven’t uploaded anything to YouTube since then, but I’m glad I’ve learned how serious Copyright Laws really are as a result of this experience.


Copyright is the exclusive legal right given to the original creator of a piece of work to use and to give permission for others to use. I think copyright is important because it protects the credit of the original piece of work, but I also think that in some cases it shouldn’t matter. For example if someone is posting a video of a dance rehearsal or a dance performance and it uses a song, I don’t think copyright should matter. It’s not like the person is blatantly trying to steal the song and use it as their own so it shouldn’t matter whether they have permission to use the song or not. That’s just called being annoying.


One copyright issue that I looked up and found interesting was Rogers vs. Koons. Art Rogers was a photographer who shot a photograph of a couple holding puppies. He sold this photograph for use in greeting cards and other products. Jeff Koons was a renowned artist who used Rogers picture to create a bunch of statues. Koons made a large amount of profit off of these statues and Rogers sued for copyright. The outcome is that Koons lost because the similarities were way too close for his work to be considered a parody of Rogers picture. In this case copyright was important because Koons blatantly copied Rogers work and just turned it into a statue.

have several seats

In a situation where something is used as a foundation to build off of in order to create something different, copyright shouldn’t be a problem because it’s not the same exact thing. There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by something and using it to create something different, but there is something wrong with taking something using it with one change made to it and claiming it as your own.

you tried but not really

It is fair to just go crazy

As you can imagine a big part of this class involves a reflection on your connection to popular culture by way of reusing pieces of media and creating a variety of GIFs and remixes. These pieces of media can come from films and tv shows, long time Youtubers or simply everyday users of the internet putting up a piece of themselves on social media.

In all cases each piece of content placed online becomes an expression of an idea that is in a form that can be copyrighted. What does that mean actually for something to be copyrighted? Are we breaking the law by creating an animated GIF such as the one at the top of this post by not getting permission to do so from the creators of Legally Blonde?

In class we watched an interesting remix that explains some the current understanding of copyright – A Fair(y) Use Tale.

The film defines copyright and the particular rule under the law which provides people to “fairly use” copyrighted materials under certain circumstances. In fact this rule was originally considered a defense users of copyrighted material could claim if an owner of the original material said that you do not have the right to use it. This is an important detail to consider as it did not mean users of copyrighted materials implicitly had the right to use a work. They could only use a fair use claim as a defense.

Well a recent court decision has just ruled that copyright owners must actually consider fair use a “right” and before sending a “takedown notice” to a user of their copyrighted material they must consider whether that user is indeed “fairly using” the work. The case is quite interesting in that the copyright holder should have seen on it’s face that video of a toddler dancing to “Let’s go Crazy” is clearly fair use. But watch below and you decide whether you think the mom owes Universal Music money for unfairly using their property to make this short video.

I heard about the court decision through my Tumblr feed and thought you’d like to see the post. I’ve been following copyright and fair use pretty closely in the media as I’m a large user of copyrighted materials in my work as a remixer and artist.

Pick one of the following pieces below that relates to copyright and right a reflection blog post. Be sure to describe two things from the piece that spoke to you and why. Also feel free to find another story that connects to copyright and fair use and/or the legal system which is interesting to you as a source.

Andy Baio is Kind of Screwed

How Creativity is Being Strangled by the Law

Everything is a Remix

Copyright Criminals

Twitter suspends SBNation and Deadspin for sharing NFL GIFs


Copy? R-i-i-i-i-ght…

What is copyright? Why is there copyright? How much should users of the web think about copyright as you and others share, re-share, and remix content on the web? What is fair use? Think about these questions and watch Larry Lessig’s TEDTalk How creativity is being strangled by the law. In a blog post, find a quote from the talk that you find compelling and tell us why. Also respond to the questions posed above.

As a further reflection on “fairness” and fair use consider three cases that actually tangled with the legal system under copyright law. First, Andy Baio a software developer for Kickstarter writes and speaks about his experience being sued by a photographer and is forced to settle and pay thousands of dollars. This is despite the fact he believes the law is on his side and so does his pro-bono counsel the EFF.

Second famous appropriation artist Richard Prince is sued by photographer Patrick Cariou for Prince’s use of Cariou’s photographs in a number of collages. At first the courts sided with Cariou the photographer, but then on the appeals court reversed the decision in favor of the Prince’s remixes being fair use.

Third consider the recent decision that ruled that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams infringed on Marvin Gaye’s song.

In a blog post, find a quote from both Andy Baio’s case and Richard Prince’s case that you agree with, disagree with, or both. Tell us why. Also tell us whether you think law around fair use is working. How would you change copyright law and fair use if you were in charge.

Digital Storytelling Prompt on Fair Use – Create an image, GIF, video, and/or piece of audio that reworks a quote and/or image found in any of the linked essays. Think about possibly creating a poster that uses an image and quote. Or create a video or audio remix that samples from the Andy Baio and/or Larry Lessig talks. Or maybe come up with something on your own that is inspired by these discussions. In your post, remember to use links to reference texts incorporated in your work as well as give context to the work.

York Students Discuss Black History

Published by Southeast Queens Press (Note: The PRESS of Southeast Queens reached out to the journalism department at York College to have students discuss what Black History Month means to them. I gathered all quotes and pictures.) By Chereese Sheen Roberto Brutus, the president of the African American Studies Club at York College, said Black … Continue reading York Students Discuss Black History

Published by Southeast Queens Press (Note: The PRESS of Southeast Queens reached out to the journalism department at York College to have students discuss what Black History Month means to them. I gathered all quotes and pictures.) By Chereese Sheen Roberto Brutus, the president of the African American Studies Club at York College, said Black … Continue reading York Students Discuss Black History