As final project, our group took to experimenting with the merits of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscles, The Wanted’s unknowingly witty lyricism, and the world of meme culture that has exploded across the internet in the last couple of years. The final result of the project took shape in two forms: (1) a video (see below) that uses clips from the film original “Pumping Iron” and an audio mash-up of “Glad You Came” and Kanye West’s “Stronger” and (2) a blog incorporating Playing off of the source material’s assertions of masculinity, the video is meant to explore questions of copyright, vidding and the culture of remix.
The opening bit takes directly from the movie, a “steal” we considered essential to our recreation of Arnie’s character into a ‘cumming’-ecstatic beast. In pairing the “Glad You Came” song to these clips of Arnie, we meant to introduce a sexual connotation that related to the source material but deviated significantly from the song’s intention. In that sense, the work is purposefully referential to the culture of vidding that the course touched on. With respect to copyright law, we found our work to pass all tests: it is made for educational use, is significantly transformative in its combination of several audio and video sources for a whole that is a new invention and this work bears no effect on the potential market for any of the copyright source materials involved.
The second piece of the project translated into a meme-centric blog using the same catch phrase from the “Glad You Came” song. The Tumbr can be seen here. The blog drew from a number of image sources, most prominently Google image searches and our team’s more personal finds from friends’ Facebook pages. In each case, issues of fair use are relevant but we found the degree to which the GLAD YOU CAME meme-tagline could have transformative effect on the interpretation of these images. In all cases the (albeit crude) message implies a sexuality to which none of our subjects, with the exception of a couple of team submissions, have verbally consented. To be clear: the works were not meant to bully or attack the subjects: instead, to develop a meme that was significantly transformative of the original intentions of each picture manipulated by suggesting that the facial expressions were orgasm-based, not unlike our video tries to establish.
Say you wake up in the morning, after a hard night of partying, surrounded by empty bottles, your hungover girlfriend, and your laptop—with windows open to kiddie porn. How the hell did that get there? What the hell is wrong with you? And what legal conundrum will you find yourself in should the police discover your hoards of mysteriously downloaded child pornography? And if, by chance, you like making fannish vids of The Land Before Time set to Prince music, can you legally claim fair use? Yes.
This is the situation that our hero faces in our magnum opus, “Porn in the Closet,” a musical tribute to the great lyrical prodigy R. Kelly. Check out the original R. Kelly song here. “Porn in the Closet” is a scandalous synthesis of modern legal code and case law governing the legality of internet activity, privacy, and free speech in the United States today.
Allow us to explain the twisted tale of our “Porn in the Closet” protagonist. Poor P. Kelly (the “P” of course stands for “Porn”) wakes up to discover child pornography–for decency’s sake, here represented by Sesame Street characters with censored chests. Police officers who thermo-scanned the house, thinking P.Kelly had a marijuana growing operation, enter P. Kelly’s place with a warrant. Their warrant was unlawfully obtained, however, according to the 2001 Supreme Court Ruling in Kyllo v. United States, which found that thermo-scanning violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unlawful search and seizure. P. Kelly lets the officers in, and they discover the laptop full of kiddie porn hidden in the closet. The laptop was given away by the sound of a Skype call, which we may legally use in our video because this is created for educational purposes and is therefore not a copyright violation, but rather fair use!
While the officers, P. Kelly, and his girlfriend Polly ponder what do about the kiddie porn situation, two DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) Agents walk in. While DMCA agents typically issue take-down requests online, the artist formerly known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince is particularly vengeful with protecting his music online. P. Kelly had created fannish vids, splicing footage from The Land Before Time movies with Prince songs. Thankfully, Judge Pierre Leval is on hand to clear up any confusion about transformative work and fair use. Judge Leval is in midget form, an homage to Chapter 9 of the original “Trapped in the Closet.” Our song is, of course, a parody and therefore fair use. Fannish vids are also, in fact, fair use, according to Section 107 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code.
Another knock comes on the door. P. Kelly questions what else he could have possibly done… Did they eat Roger Whitmore, the cannibalized cave explorer in The Speluncean Explorers? Did they hack into SendMail and create a virus, like the worm that wrought havoc in 1990, created by bored college student Robert Tappan Morris? No, we will never know what other internet crimes or gaffes P. Kelly has committed, because our favorite deus ex machina saves the day. Brad Rosen, in all of his glory, brings our tale to a close.
Follow along with our lyrics:
Seven o’clock in the morning And the rays from the sun wakes me I’m stretchin’ and yawnin’ My laptop is there right beside me And I hear her retching from the bathroom Then along comes Polly, she kisses me And unsurprisingly she’s hungover, skank.
– Now I’ve got this dumb look on my face Like, what have we done? How could I be so stupid to have downloaded all this kiddie porn? Must have blacked out last night Oh, what was on my mind? Met on 4chan, took her home Didn’t plan to sing this song
Knock on the door hearin, “Police, open up!” My girlfag looks at me Tells me to delete the kiddie porn Keep trying to close windows
“Kiddie porn move out my way” Police said “We have a warrant” “Open up sometime today!” “Shit think, shit think, shit quick: put it in the closet.”
“Smelled weed last night, Got a warrant to search your place. Thermo-scanned your house, Think you have a growing space.” “Grow weed? What, we don’t do that. That was just my tanning bed.”
You’re not gonna believe it, but things get deeper as the story goes on Next thing you know they hear my laptop with the kiddie porn
“This is child pornography We’re going to have to take you in” “Whoa, this isn’t our kiddie porn Someone else must have put that there. We’re not into that We only watch porn between legally-consenting, and unionized disease-free adults”
I’m telling you now, I wish this was the worst part of my day But then another knock In walks an agent of the DMCA We’re by the closet, like man, what the fuck is happenin’? “We have a takedown request” From the artist formerly known as Prince Is this about my fannish vids? Those were transformative Land Before Time needed a bit of Prince Fair use from section 107 of Title 17 of the US Code A midget said, “Vidding is fair use.” “Oh I didn’t watch it” And I’m like, “God it’s Judge Pierre Leval from the second circuit!”
“Why is he a midget?” “We needed a midget.” She says, “Baby, we’re in deep shit.” Another knock on the door. We stop, all look at each other Like, Who the hell is that We say, “What else did we do?” We need a jailbreak IRL Did we eat Roger Whitmore? Did we hack into mail? The knocking gets louder I pull out my Baretta They pull out their Tasers Said “Don’t tase me bro!” Midget opens the door I can’t believe it’s Brad Rosen…
Perhaps the most important role in both analyzing the present and crafting out a future for privacy policies lie in determining where social norms for privacy stand. Clear objective norms create a community where service providers and service receivers can establish clear, mutually beneficial relationships.
Much of what we understand about norms comes to us subconsciously–things simply ‘seem’ as though they should be a certain way. While this usually serves its purpose rather well, our norms don’t function so hotly when our social environment is in flux or drastic change. The amount of change we’ve all seen within our own lifetimes is staggering, in terms both technological and otherwise. As far as privacy goes, this transition is not one that has favored the interests of the average citizen.
The project serves the dual function of informing users and data-collecting companies about privacy norms and of making privacy policies as they exist now more transparent and comprehensible. We hope you enjoy it!
Please feel free to comment and add to the discussion, a healthy dialogue is the best way to nurture general understanding of privacy.
As a final project for Brad Rosen’s Yale seminar—Control, Privacy, & Technology—we took on the task of close-reading and comparing four recently proposed online privacy bills. The inspiration from the project comes from President Obama’s recent historic call for a privacy bill of rights.
The proceeding chart is meant to present all of the bills’ key features, providing a sense of each bill’s thoroughness and effectiveness. Rather than coming up with our own ideas about what the ideal privacy bill should and should not include, we relied on the FTC’s principles as a guide.
After parsing all of the information presented in the bills into categories, we gave each section a score out of 10, based on how many of the FTC’s guidelines the bill adhered to. We gave each section an individual weight, based on how much emphasis the FTC puts on its relative importance. After coming up with this percentage score (points out of 10 multiplied by section weight), we gave each bill a traditional letter grade. We actually ended up curving the scores by adding 10 percentage points, because the highest grade turned out to be a B. While this does speak of the need for even better privacy legislation, we did feel that at least one of the bills received an A grade because it generally conformed with all FTC guidelines.
While the chart should speak for itself, we did want to point out a few interesting points that became apparent after combing through all of the data:
1) Notice how the bills became less strict over time. While H.R. 611 seems to be the bill which would be enacted in the FTC’s ideal world, one can infer (from the fact that there were no contributions reported) that it never got off the ground, perhaps because it was indeed overly idealistic.
2) At least a couple of the bills include exemptions which make them a lot less effective. For example, the Kerry-McCain bill includes an exemption for the use of information within the context of “established business relationships.” Many bloggers have written that this creates a special loophole for social networks, calling it the “Facebook Loophole.”
3) Notice the way that “sensitive data” gets redefined over and over again, becoming less strict. While the most stringent bill includes the protection of data such as biometric data or precise geo-location data, other bills make no mention of this, offering a lot less protection.
Free Open Source Software has played a critical role in the emergence of the digital age. For my final project I decided to examine this phenomenon from a few different angles. First, I built a website using only free open source software. This was, not surprisingly, exceedingly easy. The widespread availability of open source software and the vibrant health of online programming communities have contributed immensely to the explosion of innovation on the web. Next, I captured this precise point (inadvertently, I should add), by stumbling into a situation in which I needed to ping the FOSS community for help, and they ultimately answered beyond my expectations. I used Facebook and its pending FOSS alternative Diaspora to illustrate the subtle differences between “free” versus “free software” versus “freeware.” And finally, I wrapped up with some thoughts about the future of free open source, as it applies to software and perhaps even beyond. You can view the project at FreeAsInSoftware.com.
“Walking on Eggshells” is a 24-minute documentary about appropriation, creative influence, re-use and intellectual property in the remix age. It is a conversation among various musicians, visual artists, writers and lawyers, all sharing their views on why and how we use and create culture, and how intellectual property law, originally designed to provide people with incentives to create, sometimes hinders creative production far more than it enhances it.
Despite the rising influence of intellectual property and other technology policies on students’ lives, the majority of students at Yale remain unaware of many of these important issues. To help solve this problem, our group has created a set of educational resources that would help Yale students better understand how complex university policies surrounding copyright, fair use, torrents, and other issues affect their lives.
Below are short summaries of some of our findings, organized by topic:
Bittorrent at Yale
What happens if I’m caught torrenting copyrighted material @ Yale?
Under the 1998 DIgital Millennium Copyright Act, Yale is designated as an Internet Service Provider (ISP), thus is obligated to takedown or disable the infringing content on its network. Yale has a 3 strikes policy based on how many notices you’ve received …. (read more on bittorrent).
Example: A Yale DMCA Takedown Notice
The following is a sample DMCA takedown notification sent to Yale University and subsequently forwarded to the student and his/her respective dean and master.
DMCA Copyright Agent
Information Security Office
25 Science Park
April 19, 2010
Dear XXXXXX (NetID XXXXX, EHA XXXXXXXXXXXX):
Yale University has received a complaint from Warner Bros. regarding the distribution and/or availability of a title they believe to be their intellectual property being distributed on the Yale network (and the Internet). The complaint reports that the computer with IP address XXX.XX.XXX.XXXX (Internet Protocol network address) was and/or is unlawfully making available digitized copies of copyrighted materials. Our records show that this roaming IP address is presently registered to your NetID, or was used by your NetID at the time noted in the complaint. You therefore may be in violation of both Federal copyright law and the University’s Information Technology Appropriate Use Policy (ITAUP), section 1607.1.C.6, “Use in violation of law”” (read more on takedowns).
The Internet is so useful at disseminating art, it is sometimes overlooked as a medium in and of itself. There are artists that work exclusively online, but there are many more artists that use websites simply to display their projects. This is an issue that presents itself whenever a medium originates as a technology for mass communication.
Long before printmaking was embraced as an artistic medium it was used to reproduce paintings, images of architecture, and distribute text-based information. Printmaking was developed as a method of cheaply mass producing and distributing information. Only when it became technologically obsolete was it fully embraced by fine art, but it has since thrived in that context.
It’s hard to imagine a point in time when the Internet will be obsolete, but it may come someday. If the Internet ceased to be the most efficient way to transfer information, it might evolve to serve other less utilitarian purposes.
For my project I created a website that functions like a print. Just as nobody needs the plate used to create a print, nobody needs the actual image file. They just need a link to it. The Internet is obviously superior technology because it can create infinite copies, but it’s roughly analogous.
The print on my website is about net neutrality, which came to mind when I was thinking about how and when the Internet could ever become obsolete. A loss of net neutrality might not make the Internet obsolete, but it would certain reduce its utility. Maybe if the damage was great enough the Internet would join printmaking as a novel but irrelevant technology.
n order to most effectively direct instructional information towards the student body, I surveyed and interviewed a variety of students on their attitudes about copyright and the ethics of illegally copying copyrighted materials.
The effort was a two-part one.
First, I sent a survey to a diverse selection of the student body. I aimed to reach both genders, people of each grade level, and students with a range of knowledge about technology and intellectual property issues. I received 69 responses. Below is a summary of the more interesting results.
Plagiarism vs. Illegal Downloading
Whereas 88 percent of the students that responded claimed to very familiar or moderately familiar with Yale’s policies on plagiarism, only 19 percent reported that they were very familiar with Yale’s policies on downloading copyrighted content without permission, and 42 percent responded that they were not at all familiar with the policies. These results indicate that Yale should provide incoming freshmen with training on these issues during freshman orientation, and needs to make resources available to all grades.
Switch to Google
I asked questions about Yale’s switch to use Google for email services. 90 percent of responders had heard about the plan, and only 3% of responders were against it.
Behavior On Campus vs. Off of Campus Networks
Of the responders, 48 percent said they felt safer downloading copyrighted content without permission off of Yale’s networks. The reasons given for and against downloading at Yale were varied.
Students who felt more comfortable at Yale gave responses like,
-“Yale at the very least can filter the RIAA’s cease and desist demands should they arise, instead of them coming directly for you as they would if you were on your own home network.”
-“Because I know my activity is not being monitored.”
-“Because I have never heard of Yale enforcing illegal downloading policies.”
Students who were more wary on campus networks responded,
-“Because I got reprimanded by Yale for using Limewire, and don’t imagine this would happen elsewhere.”
-“I know for a fact that RIAA and MPAA monitors watch Yale’s network VERY closely. If the file in question is for content they are paying attention to, then five minutes of seeding is enough to attract the **AA’s attention.”
Variety of Copyrighted Material
I was interested in exploring whether student opinions were dependent on the type of content being downloaded without permission.
35 percent of students surveyed thought it was more unethical to download music from an indie band without permission. Their reasons were as follows…
-“Indie artists need the money! Sean Paul’s loaded.”
-“The percentage of profit lost to the big name/big label act is in the drop-in-the-bucket range, whereas the indie band doesn’t have the enormous crowd backing for their income. Moreover, the big label act only gets a few cents on the dollar per song after the label is paid, while the indie act is more likely to be releasing their album themselves, and therefore stands to receive more profit directly, which they can convert to further music-making.”
-“I feel less bad about stealing the music of people who have tons and tons of money anyway.”
Many students thought it made no difference.
-“Intellectual property is the same thing whether we’re dealing with Madonna or Bearbot.”
-“I download all my music, I don’t think it’s wrong, and I think that the record companies need to accept the way things are now and stop slapping lawsuits on everyone.”
-“All these bands should be making money from their super-lucrative concert tours.”
-“Either way you are taking money from an artist.”
I then asked whether downloading a movie without permission was more or less unethical than downloading music without permission.
The people who found downloading movies more unethical gave these reasons:
-“Movies cost more so you are taking something more valuable.”
-“Movies involve the contributions of hundreds and hundreds of people who are already underpaid. As far as I know, recording an album requires significantly fewer people.”
-“My dad is a movie theatre manager. In light of this, I grew up hearing about how when people download movies, it takes away from the commissions of the theatres. I don’t know that there’s really a comparable issue in music because people still go to concerts, buy merchandise from the stores, and things of that nature.”
-“Movies are long.”
Half of responders said it made no difference, and gave these reasons:
-“You’re taking money away from both companies.”
-“They’re both under copyright.”
Interviews and Short Films
Second, I conducted and filmed a series of twelve individual interviews with a similarly diverse group of students. I aimed to cover freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior opinions with a range of opinions and academic background. I asked questions to gauge the extent of their knowledge about broader intellectual property concepts, then posed ethical scenarios, such as “To what extent do you think ripping a library disc is unethical?” and “Do you think downloading a copyrighted movie without permission is more or less ethical than downloading a copyrighted song without permission?” These surveys and interviews not only provided information about the ideas of the general Yale population, but served as convenient ways to initiate conversations about the issues and stimulate dialogue. After each interview, I informed my interview subject about Yale’s policies, and about our group’s website.
I edited these interviews together with the intent of posing a complicated question, providing a range of student opinions, and directing the viewer to the group’s website. I aimed to keep these movies short and tightly-edited in order to keep the viewer’s attention online. Since the object of our project is to inform the Yale community, I distributed the films to many different groups on Yale’s campus.
1. How unethical is it to download copyrighted content without permission?
2. Do you feel safer downloading copyrighted content without permission on Yale’s networks or off of campus networks?
3. Is it more unethical to download copyrighted content without permission from an established artist or an up-and-coming one?
4. How ethical is it to borrow a cd or a dvd from the library and rip it to your computer?
The spirit of the post-modern attitude is embodied in attacking the idea of the fixed symbol, in turn creating new definitions to what we assume as absolute. A rub between disparate concepts can create a fertile ground to co-opt and re-purpose symbols in order to produce new forms. In other words, bestowing our respective toolsets as practitioners upon works from a not-too-distant past can manipulate it, now re-rendering it within the present.
Utilizing our self-initiated work as test subjects (images positioned around the perimeter), we (Hank Huang, Vance Wellenstein, Zakary Jensen and Zachary Klauck) created a web of links tracing commonalities in reference within our respective projects (images positioned towards the center). In doing so, we found significant amount of overlap, all of which supporting our ideas of reduced restrictions with regards to intellectual property that we advocated for throughout the duration of the semester. It is through this practice that we as designers are invested into how found elements that function in opposition to one another can become assembled, and through this assemblage unexpected meanings are forced to emerge from the world. It illustrates the fact that the notion of the truly original work is false, and that instead those forms we take ownership in are actually built upon the backs of the generations that preceded us.