Tag Archives: advertising

Sharing the glory – content ownership in a remix culture

In a world where anyone can publish anything to the world, copyright and ownership of content has become an increasingly interesting, complex and controversial field.

In Australia, a work is copyrighted as soon as it is created. Every drawing, song, story, sculpture, multimedia creation – all are copyrighted, unless the creator chooses to release some of their rights, under a Creative Commons licence (read more about Creative Commons at the Copyright Copyleft wiki, which I created to help educators understand these issues).

Today, Cory Doctorow reported in the Boing Boing blog that Nintendo has chosen to claim ownership over gamer fanvids on YouTube. What does this mean, and why am I blogging about it?

Put simply, many keen Nintendo players create fanvids, commonly known as ‘let’s play’ videos which are basically videos that show them playing a particular game. In these videos, they share tips, easter eggs (hidden extras), show off their skills and generally contribute to the gamer community. An example of a let’s play fanvid is below:

As Doctorow notes, at the moment a search for ‘let’s play’ on YouTube brings up over 9 million videos, many of which have been created by at home gamers.   Although these videos have been created by the gamers, they are based on content that belongs to Nintendo, and Nintendo has decided to monetize these videos by placing advertising around, before or after the videos, income from which will flow to Nintendo, rather than the owner of the video.

This decision has set the gamer community alight;  they acknowledge that  Nintendo is within its legal right to do this, but question whether it is a sensible move to upset so many gamers; you can hear more of this discussion here.

There is no doubt that now Nintendo has made this move, others will follow. In fact some gaming consoles actually have the capacity to record the game as it is played built in.

The concept of fanvids and fanfiction is not new, or limited to video games. In fact, in Japan, it is a major industry.

Known as Dōjinshi, this fan fiction, based on popular manga series, is so well accepted it is sold at major events, the best known of which is Comiket, the most recent of which attracted over 560 000 visitors.  Unlike in many western countries, where fanfiction is seen as a breach of copyright, in Japan it is tacitly accepted as a source of marketing for the ‘official’ publications, and as a breeding ground for discovering new upcoming manga artists.

It seems like Nintendo wishes for its gamer fans to see their move as one which promotes co-existence, similar to the dojinshi model – after all, they aren’t banning videos which contains their content, they are simply profiting from it. From the gamers’ perspective, their videos are not replicating the game, as every player will have a unique experience – they are simply sharing their own.

We will increasingly see issues of ownership of content arising, as technology allows us to remix content and publish it online – and concepts such as copyright, intellectual property and creative commons need to be in the forefront of every content creator’s mind. If you are interested in learning more about this, a great place to start is Bound by Law, a graphic novel available for free download or for purchase through Amazon, which explores the concepts of copyright, intellectual property and fair use in a digital remix culture. It is a fantastic read, and educational to boot!

Download this comic by clicking on the image.

Produced by Duke Centre for the Study of the Public Domain.

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Selling the Future

I viewed these videos on my iPad as I sat on the couch. When I finished watching them, I double clicked the bottom button on the iPad and flicked to the Google Plus app where I started typing. I then thought better of this- why not write a blog post and simply post the link to G+? So I flicked to my WordPress app, and began typing there.

It wasn’t as entirely seamless as the glass and Microsoft videos suggested, but it was pretty amazing, particularly as only 10 years ago it would have been science fiction- typing on a tablet, connecting wirelessly to the net, flicking from app to app after viewing HD video on the same device…

I found these videos to suggest a utopian and dare I say false view of the future. I definitely believe the technology is in our lifetimes…but like all advertising, this technology will not bring with it a population where everyone is beautiful, living in perfect nuclear families, working in funky offices and yet still having time for Mum to advise on the bake sale.

It was fascinating that while all of this modern technology had supposedly transformed our lives into Vogue magazine shoots, the kids still learnt traditional algorithms while sitting at the kitchen table, and the teacher still stood at the front of the room while the kids sit in rows. Even the multi-touch colour table (which looks like awesome fun!!) is still used for a rather low level learning activity- overlaying colours and matching them to pictures……not that inspiring……

I also found it interesting that the screens in both videos only featured one app at a time- unlike my desktop at work, which has two screens and multiple apps operating and demanding my attention- email, Twitter, chat and my project work all have windows visible. Perhaps this simplicity added to the calm and in control tone to these videos, where technology clearly dominated and directed (an invite from a dress shop sees the busy Mum ditch her meeting to buy clothes) and yet did not seem to overwhelm.

Viewing a possible future constructed by marketing departments is always going to be fraught with danger- but, after reading my fellow quad blogger Rick Bartlett’s post, http://drrbb2nd.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/elevator-speech.html?m=1 , perhaps we need to introduce a bit more blue sky thinking and entrepreneurship into our goal setting and planning in education- a little utopian dreaming has never hurt Microsoft after all!!