So, this was a post I meant to do days ago, but of course Life happened. Anyway, in an effort to mitigate my general lack of eloquence in class, I'm hoping to get more on this blogging scene. :)

First, let me just say that I am fascinated by YouTube, both as a collection of folk communities and as a virtual space fraught with anxiety about these very IP issues that we talk about in class. The IP issues are multi-layered; not only do users have to work around YouTube's increasingly strict rules about what can/cannot be posted on the site because of copyright reasons (more on that in a sec), but users also need to be aware of the rampant plagiarism amongst the users themselves. We see it all the time: someone posts something on YouTube, the video is downloaded (through easily available free software available elsewhere online), remixed in some fashion (or not, just reposted as "original"), and reuploaded to YouTube. The Sweet Brown viral video is just one recent example.

The complications here could be profound in terms of profiting from both the spread of the original as well as this and numerous other remixes. First, who uploaded the video originally? With some of these, it's impossible to tell. If someone uploads a video and says s/he is the original uploader and then monetizes that video (i.e. allows YouTube to place ads before or within the video, how often can it be proved that that is the original? And then someone is profiting from this woman's story, but I can pretty much guarantee that it's not her. Same with the remixes. Is that fair? Or did she give up rights by allowing herself to be interviewed by a television station in the first place? It's mind boggling.

I've been through my own runarounds with YouTube in terms of posting original songs on the site, where I've had to prove without a doubt that I am the sole creator of said songs. In some cases, even notification by the software company that I use to create music on the computer that all of their samples are freely available for use and commercial rights got a big ol' HELL NO from YouTube. Thus I could not make a profit from views of certain videos even though the music was put together by me. For the corporate YouTube, of course, it only matters when they become potentially liable for copyright abuse; thus, they become so strict that a vlogger, for example, can't even have background music in her video when's it's playing on a car radio or a TV, for example.

But all of this is leading me to the main event. Last week or so, I got a message from a YouTube user that I thought was a bit strange. He had apparently found one of my vlogs and was interesting in using the images for a music video of HIS original music. What I thought was strange was not that he wanted to use the images but that he actually contacted me to do so. He wanted to know whether the video was copyrighted. I told him it was, but if he credited me with the images and didn't monetize the video, then he could use my film.

What came out of that is below (his music, my images). As it happens, the other user is from Italy, and he was as good as his word (the link to my original vlog is in his "about" section). But as this was going on, it made me wonder just how many times pieces of some random schmo's video (like me) get repurposed without the original user ever even knowing about it. And if the original user doesn't know it's going on, YouTube certainly doesn't have the resources to police that kind of thing. It rather reminds me of the tree in the forest question: if people don't know it's happening to them, is it really a problem?

Just thinkin'.

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