The remix (or mash-up) project, Concept Expansion 3, has been a very interesting experience for me. I am very excited to present the final product, but I will also be honest in saying that it is not at the level at which I would like it to be. I have spent the past two or three weeks in class poring over Audacity tutorials, YouTube videos, and MP3 song files in an attempt to create something that my group and I could be proud of. However, no matter how much time we have spent combining sounds, beats, words, and rhythms, we have not been thrilled with our results. I believe that the barriers that have prevented us from creating our ideal remix have come from our level of inexperience with audio, Audacity itself, and the realm of music. While I make a podcast every week with Audacity, I have never spent time experimenting with musical sounds — I have only worked with spoken-word vocals in the past. As difficult as the concept expansion has been, though, I sincerely appreciate the sentiment of this assignment and the challenge with which it has presented me. I truly believe that if we had more time to spend with this project (and resources for help), our group could come up with a fantastic remix.
In regards to the barriers that come along with fair use and copyright laws in creative projects, I deal with this dilemma quite often. In the podcast that I create, I discuss pop music and literary theory with one other person. While I believe that using sound clips from the songs would really enhance the podcast, I have always been too afraid of copyright infringement (even though our podcast is technically “educational”) to attempt to include any audio from the songs. I agree with Cory Doctorow’s introduction to Bound by Law?, which states, “Copyright, a system that is meant to promote creativity, has been hijacked by a few industrial players and perverted. Today, copyright is as likely to suppress new creativity as it is to protect it” (Aoki et al. iii). As much as I would like to say that copyright laws are necessary to provide credit where credit is due, I do think that they sometimes go too far. While creating this remix, I was worried that our project would fall victim to a lawsuit similar to the one Stephanie Lenz endured after posting a video of her son dancing to a Prince song online (Electronic Frontier Foundation). It seems apparent to me that, in the current state of the Internet, the online community should be centered more on respecting creations that have come before and fostering new creations built on that foundation than “making groundless infringement claims that trample on fair use and free speech,” as Universal did in Lenz’s situation (Electronic Frontier Foundation).
As this class has taught me, failure is learning, which means that we must continue trying, working, and creating to make something that builds upon the works of creators of the past and also puts something unique into the world. I believe that the online community is a great place to host those creations and conversations, and I hope that we continue to uphold fair use laws that state “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching … , scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright” instead of focusing on one person or group maintaining all the rights to specific sounds, words, or images (“U.S. Code 107”). The higher education system needs projects like this concept expansion, because they foster self-taught learning and the utilization of the resources all around us, and I hope that these experiences are never ruined by fair use jargon and copyright bureaucracy.