Saturday, April 25, 2009

IP/Gender: panel two

Panel Two: New Forms of Organizing: Women Reinterpret the Legal, the Educational and the Political

Ann Shalleck, Moderator: Political aspects of fan cultures: how does law form part of the context; what do female fan cultures have to teach us about public advocacy, scholarship, and teaching? Given that most people don’t litigate even legal issues, how do we place fan cultures within the overall cultural background?

Jordan Gilbertson, We Will Not Be Ignored - Integrating Fan Created Works Into the Traditional Copyright Classroom: The case method and the Socratic method are the main approaches in law school. Inherent inadequacies in the methods; voluntary participation supplements them, but does not fix them. Studies conclude that female students participate less than men. The Socratic method focuses on characteristics associated with men, including hostile and confrontational dialogue. Adding volunteer opportunities doesn’t help because of fear, professorial bias, lack of interest in the battle for classroom dominance, and silent protest.

Case briefing has not been subject to as much criticism. Feminist pedagogy is basically about stories: using cases is using stories.

Proposes using fanworks to teach copyright. (1) Fanworks are on the cutting edge of IP law. Non-fan students will go out and do IP law. They need to know what’s out there no matter what side they’re on. (2) Aspects of fandom are dominated by women; this allows the class to keep the interest of women.

Gilbertson took us through various issues with a Doctor Who drabble: access is clear, but is there substantial similarity? Does it matter whether you need to know the context of the fandom to recognize the characters? If infringing, is it transformative? Is it fair? She did the same with Lim’s vid “Us.” And finally: “Ralph Wiggum” by the Bloodhound Gang: quotes from 19 seasons of The Simpsons make up the entirety of the lyrics.

Karen Hellekson, Intellectual Property, Transformation, and Academic Journals

Here for Transformative Works and Cultures: Submit early and often! Hellekson’s background: STM (scientific, technical and medical) publishing. Creating a journal involved a bunch of tough decisions about distribution, copyright, and so on. OTW’s liberal take on fair use and remixing was an important foundational principle, though the editorial team is totally separate and has independence in publishing.

One goal: record the history of female-dominated fan cultures, which were getting erased in discussions of the “new” creations of largely male cultures. Another: link fans and scholars; some people are both, but if you’re just one or the other the journal wants you too. Fans write meta; academics write criticism; those are the same things. Indeed, fan fiction and other creative works are also criticism. Fans and academics are immersed in their own texts and get deep references. Example: Rachel Sabotini’s essay on fans and gift culture.

As an editor for the STM industry, she has standing instructions: cut all song lyrics. Get rid of figures published elsewhere, even if the author created that figure; the author likely signed over the copyright to a journal and would have to pay $500 to reuse his/her own figure. Someone with no background in law is generally deciding what can be published; there will not be a discussion with lawyers about marginal cases, in many cases—the thing will just be cut. The press will not pay permission fees; the author may have to pay. Publishers are extremely risk-averse. Some authors can reinstate lyrics if they go high enough up with the publisher, but that’s not normal. Legal chill is pervasive. One media studies publisher won’t permit dialogue quotes, episode titles, plot summaries, or screenshots. What kind of analysis can you do without those things?

Work is not being done because it’s unpublishable, and that’s where TWC comes in. We’ll take your screenshots, your embedded video, your color shots (which in print are so expensive that authors need grants to get it done). This is a cultural service. Moving beyond self-censorship and beyond print. Medical articles: often there’s a video extra showing how a surgery is performed; in print, it can’t be integrated with the article.

STM pioneered open access: rigid criteria for openness, not just free availability on the internet. Public Library of Science-Biology is the best-known. PLoS sustains itself by charging a page fee for publication, which is usually paid by grantors or institutions. TWC chose Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial licenses. PLoS-Biology doesn’t have a noncommercial restriction, but TWC chose NC in order to make the point that enough people are making money off of fan cultures and that the least someone who wants to make commercial use could do would be to ask. TWC will say yes.

Why give TWC the right to license? Because authors may disappear, and the availability of TWC as licensor helps preserve use rights. Because it’s standard practice in the industry, and familiar. There’s no moratorium on republishing elsewhere, no embargo period. Open access works are 3x more likely to be cited. Remixing has occurred: People have made PDF versions.

TWC also chose an open-source journal platform. It permits commenting on articles, which is important to the audience and the community. The conversation will be public.

Current print models stifle creativity. The alternative is freedom, enabled by open access.

Laura Murray, Boys and Their Toys? On the Gender Dynamics of Copyright Activism in Canada: Copyright reform legislation in Canada faced a public outcry. Gratifying for activists, but Murray found herself disengaged from the discussion, including the very large Facebook group that formed, Fair Copyright for Canada. She started to think about gender issues: there weren’t many women speaking out. She interviewed participants in copyright advocacy and IP professors, and analyzed a recent Canadian film, RiP: A Remix Manifesto.

IP academics: 34% women; public interest advocates, 34% women; Facebook group, 37% women. Different pattern when it comes to discussion: women represent 11% of Facebook page discussants; men make more posts, so the percentage of posts by women is lower. Women tend to make their points and then retreat. Polls showed 49% opposition to reform from men, only 29% from women. Question from public interest advocate: are women disproportionately uninformed and uninterested in copyright? Or have they formed restrictionist views, making them less likely to oppose a restrictionist copyright amendment?

Librarians have carried the torch for users’ rights for many years, and librarians are a heavily female group. Women have cellphones too and have reasons to want to unlock them.

Facebook participants are highly invested—one man talks about “cool innovative products that let you do impressive technological things,” another about interference with stuff that is his. Gendered claims to property ownership and to display. RiP: Rhetoric of “war” over ideas. Politically astute about a certain type of audience, but also politically blind to the ways in which its rhetoric is exclusive.

Why don’t women change the rhetoric? One male undergraduate says: women don’t care whether downloading/cutting clips is illegal. They don’t say “screw the rules,” they just do what they want—they’re more carefree, he says, but he doesn’t know whether that’s lack of maturity or lack of understanding. Here’s the problem with women’s silence: it’s often interpreted by men as immaturity/ignorance.

RiP: There’s a lot of fandom in this film—a boy filmmaker in love with/fanboying Larry Lessig (“the coolest lawyer in the world”). Student filmmaker: having chosen to make a particular speculative documentary about copyright law, he found that women’s perspectives didn’t fit in. They were too conceptual, too diffuse. He wanted to focus on technical questions that showed how severe the copyright bill was. He didn’t recognize that it was his choices that made their perspectives not fit.

IP professor: Women self-censor more. They aren’t willing to speak unless they’re totally sure of their expertise, while men go out on a limb.

RiP’s rhetoric is about community: a “posse” creating this movie together. Lessig uses the language of community too. Women say they feel more comfortable in community—so why not this one? Mystification about what causes community. It’s not tech. These student filmmakers were asked to create this film by their professor. That structure disappeared in the final product.

The main character in RiP is the DJ Girl Talk, which name is ironic given that there are only a few speaking girls in the whole long film. One: Marybeth Peters, the US registrar of copyrights who says she’s never seen a mashup or downloaded a song or used a computer at home. Two: a girl in bed, Girl Talk’s girlfriend (she gets a couple of lines). Also Girl Talk’s mom; a Brazilian girl. Paris Hilton also shows up, and the filmmaker expresses his fandom. Then Girl Talk makes the analogy: DRM is like a urinary tract infection. But has anyone involved in making this film ever had one?

The film asks the question: who would have an issue with Girl Talk’s music? Peters is then immediately presented, even though she doesn’t have an issue (and is presented as awed by Girl Talk’s technical acumen)—the people who might object are the largely male copyright owners of the works Girl Talk reuses. But Peters is given as the representation of the heavy, the bad girl.

Things copyright isn’t: war; urinary tract infection. Things copyright is: discussion; challenge.

Working principles: don’t equate concerned citizens/active scholars with internet visibility, or with identification with polarized opinion. Question claims about community. Multiply forms of engagement and the range of examples in play. Question the user/creator binary more fully. But a film like RiP puts Girl Talk in the place of the Romantic male author—remix discourse turns out to be original genius discourse. On the other hand, we need to recognize the validity of the distinction in some cases. There is a difference between creators trying to earn a living (implicit: with their creativity) and other kinds of creators. There’s a gender dynamic in that because of the history of the procreation metaphor as a model for creativity—quick is good, and men are quicker than women (a couple of minutes versus nine months, it would seem).

For Hellekson: Is fic acceptable for TWC?

Hellekson: Not as such, but we’re open to nontraditional expressions like games that critique games accompanied by a critical paper.

Zahr Stauffer for Gilbertson: She teaches literary reworkings, and loves that experience. When you’re in a classroom and you want students to have an equal ability to judge transformativeness, you may need to familiarize them with the source work and the fantext both. So you may need fanworks that rework very short things.

Gilbertson: Sometimes you can listen to filk, read fic, watch vids without deep ingrained knowledge. Part of what she’s proposing is a juxtaposition. Ask the students to bring in something that interests them, and the professor can choose examples to show.

Peter Jaszi: As Murray points out, RiP sets itself in part in the US, but it’s a US of the mind—a US without any system of fair use. Has this film been subjected to a critique of its own mythology except by Murray?

Murray: Not yet. The film’s political message is very limited: remix this film. It lacks practical context.

Jaszi: This is also Lessig’s public attitude: fair use is the right to hire a lawyer, a snare, a will o’ the wisp. This attitude works well for certain alpha male authority figures, but not so well for others who labor in areas where fair use is an important contributing element.

Murray: So how do we create a compelling and concise public message that is not oversimplified? RiP is lively and sexy; how do we do better and still get attention? Later, she suggested more collective blogging so that there was less pressure to provide new content every 5 minutes. That would enable women and men who feel like they need another model.

Shalleck: Cautions against essentializing in the discussion: women are more likely to do X, men to do Y. A useful concept: hegemonic masculinity. Cultural criticism has achieved subtlety in criticizing particular dominant concepts and people, as well as identifying the ways in which favored participation gets coded as masculine.

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