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Recut at the NCMR

I had the great pleasure of presenting at the National Conference for Media Reform this past weekend, on a panel called "Copyright Wars: Will Filtering Censor Free Speech and Kill Net Neutrality?" Joining me on this panel were Alex Curtis of Public Knowledge, Robert Millis of Hudson Street Media, and Elizabeth Stark of the MIT Free Culture Group.

We discussed the effects of filtering video for copyright infringements on the evolution of online video, and how net neutrality can protect its future. This culture of online video is explored in Recut, Reframe, Recycle , which demonstrates how new culture grows from existing culture, increasing the value of Fair Use practices in online video. Filtering tools block videos that contain copyrighted material without discretion. This works to prevent piracy, but the tools lack the ability to judge whether or not the quotation of copyrighted material is Fair Use.

Here are a couple of video examples of new culture emerging from exisitng culture:

Bill O'Reilly Flips Out (Please note: language in this video is somewhat NSFW)

This video is taken directly from the stored footage of "Inside Edition." Recut, Reframe, Recycle shows that often videos quote copyrighted material in order to preserve them in an act of rescue -- that otherwise the footage would be unavailable to the public. The user did not transform the footage, they simply made it available in a new medium. This indicates that it is an element of existing culture.

Bill O'Reilly Flips Out - DANCE REMIX transforms this video into something new -- it creates a song from sound bites, thereby bring a new artistic perspective to the footage.

Net neutrality is imperative for this new culture to develop. Filtering stifles the creation of new transformative videos by removing any video with copyrighted material in it, regardless of its claim to Fair Use. This technology does not assist in advancing culture, it serves to protect the means of large corporate copyright holders.

In an effort to raise awareness about Fair Use, the Center for Social Media is planning to release a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use and Online Video this summer. This document will bring creators' rights to the forefront, and help to provide a better understanding of the law in order to support the production of online video that quotes copyrighted material legally.