Thursday, January 17, 2013

Daily Create: One of My First Childhood Memories

One of the first memories I have growing up: standing in front of my family's boat looking out towards the horizon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Daily Create: Favorite Thing To Do

Van Morrison's "Moondance" album is incredible.

Listen to music, whether it be from a record, my iPod, a computer, etc.

Copyright law vs. Creativity: The Legality of Remix

After watching RiP!: A Remix Manifesto last night, I wasn't sure how to respond. The problem was that the film got me thinking a lot, too much in fact, and it was hard for me to form some coherent thought about it. After sleeping on it, I now think can respond.

First of all, I loved the film. I thought his points about Disney borrowing (stealing) characters and plot from other stories really hit home for me. I remember when someone told me that The Lion King heavily borrowed from Shakespeare's Hamlet. And when I read the play in high school, it was hard not to notice the parallels. But that didn't take anything away from The Lion King as a film; it took the message of the play and retooled it for a younger audience, and they did it incredibly well. For the Disney corporation to then make it impossible for anyone to borrow (steal) anything from them for a similar purpose of creating something new and different with it, well, it's slightly hypocritical.

Since I can't use any stills from the film, here's a real lion.
Rebecca Wood, "Lion King" January 20, 2007 via Flickr, Creative Commons attribution

I'm also a big fan of Girl Talk, and I liked how he was represented in the film. One of my favorite parts of the entire film was when the director showed the woman in the copyright office footage of Girl Talk explaining his process. I just loved the look on her face as she realized that sampling music in order to create a new song was not only very creative but also incredibly difficult to do well. And, of course, the final song was something very different from the original.

And yet she still was hesitant about the law, saying that the severity of the punishment that could be dropped on Girl Talk would depend on which songs he used, how much of them he used, and (most importantly, I think), who owns the copyright to those songs.

I think this is important to note because in cases like this it seems that the law is only enforced when the company a) notices that their music has been re-appropriated and b) cares enough to sue the person for all he/she is worth.

In my mind, creative commons is where things are going. Corporations may care a lot about who uses the music and for what, but I think we are going to see a lot of artists support creative commons. There are tons of options when it comes to licensing, whether they be looking only for attribution or non-derivative or non-commercial use. I believe creativity is stifled due to the strictness of the copyright laws, and it doesn't have to be this way.

Anyways, if you haven't seen the documentary, absolutely watch it because it is definitely worth it. Whether you agree with its points or not, this is a discussion worth having.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thoughts on "The Storytelling Animal"

As I read through the beginning of The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall, I could not help but think about my own life. Just like the children that Gottschall describes, I grew up creating stories out of anything and everything. My friends and I would pretend that we were spies and we would run around outside trying to beat the "bad guys." We would play a game we called "Town" where everyone would create a home out of couch cushions or whatever was around the house, and then we would ascribe to ourselves an occupation -- doctor, policeman, banker, etc. Then we would play out various scenarios in this world that we created.

Gottschall states that as we grow up, we may move out of "Neverland" but we don't stop crafting stories; we just do it in different ways. I'm studying film at U of M. I'm going to school to learn how to use the visual medium of film to tell stories. I've also done a lot of creative writing, and I would argue that I used writing as an outlet to replace playacting with friends.

Photo Credit by Angie Garrett, CC

I also find it very interesting that the enigma of storytelling has no easy answers. Why do we tell stories, if there's no real reason for it? How has storytelling prevailed throughout the ages? Gottschall offers several possible suggestions but it's crazy to me that we just don't know, even though we all accept storytelling as a natural part of our daily lives. And it really is inescapable.