It’s a bird, it’s a beat, it’s not DRM!

September 11, 2007 at 1:36 am | Posted in Assignments, Copyright, Thoughts | Leave a comment

Recently, Truth Happens released a video fable as part of an anti-DRM campaign.

Requiem for DRM

(Audio Required. This video makes little sense without audio.)

This video tells the tale of the life of a beat to a bird song to its capture and then its final, inevitable release. While the video may or may not appeal to everyone, anyone can take the pieces and make something new. The authors have freely provided the assets used to create the video in the spirit of community driven art. Implicit with this offer is the hope that someone else will expound on their ideas. The interest thus far has been underwhelming.

A little over a year ago, Stephen Colbert posed a similar challenge to his viewers. He provided half a minute of cable TV footage. The results were amazing. Results ranged from simple Star Wars light saber antics to meshed video to an iPod advertisement. The stakes were high, the stage was set, millions vied for hits with the chance for notoriety and a change to make it big.

Both these efforts entice media consumers to become producers. But, for reasons of celebrity, humor and the like, one has received more attention than the other. Yet, this attitude ultimately runs afoul of entrenched media copyright interests.

For example, this digg.com post from when the show originally aired no longer leads to the challenge’s footage. A Viacom campaign removed it. Instead, YouTube provides the following message “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Viacom International Inc.” Viacom via ComedyCentral provides the only remaining source of the video, locked inside a flash website. They are under no obligation to keep providing it. They are under no obligation to not also remove the derivative works.

In contrast, Truth Happens has provided the content under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. Everyone may freely share the video, all of the source files, and any derivative works so long as they abide these licensing terms.

While the Truth Happens video and materials on their own provide an abstract and slightly confusing message, when compared with Viacom’s treatment of Colbert’s challenge, the strength of their position shines.

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