Thus, if you want to appropriate someone else's work in order to expand upon it, you need to secure permission or go through some other legal hoops to gain a "fair-use" copyright exception. However, if you just want to mock someone, then go ahead. Copyright law gives you carte blanche!
This supports Professor Terry Fisher's argument that the law makes culture. Does that imply that, if we reform the laws, we can reform our culture?
In a fast-paced digital environment, it is much easier and quicker to build content around parody than by relying on other forms of fair-use and needing to stop to secure permission or pass legal review. (Or creating your own content from scratch.)
I've seen how technology can also create culture. But, I was so struck by the observations of Zeynep Tufekci, a self-described scholar of social movements and of surveillance, that I was moved to post.
I feel like I don't quite understand social media yet. At first, I thought there was something wrong with me because there are so many much younger people who purport to understand social media marketing themselves as consultants. Why am I so stupid? Why can't I grasp it?
Then I read Tufekci's comment.
She explains that it’s hard to do conceptual work in this space because events are changing every few months, making it very hard to extrapolate from years of experience.Then I realized, perhaps I've just been around--collecting data and observations--long enough to realize what I don't know. Moreover, I like to collect more data before I make up my mind.
This observation about why social media has been so influential in the Arab Spring and Gezi Park protests but hasn't brought lasting change is brilliant (I added the emphasis):
To understand these protests, Zeynep turns to Amartya Sen and capacity building, looking at those capacities, not traditional outputs, as the benefits of development. The internet gives us some new capacities, but that may undermine other capacities: we end up at base camp very easily, but we don’t know how to negotiate Hillary’s step. We can carry out the spectacular street protest, but we can’t build a larger movement to topple or challenge a government.Social media, as it is currently built, is geared towards quick communication and gathering followers. But it's not a platform for holding deep and nuanced debates to come to a consensus on difficult subjects with people who don't generally agree with us. That platform hasn't been built yet.
This is an analogy for internet-enabled activism. In talking about internet and collective action, we tend to talk about ease of coordination and community. Zeynep worries that we’re getting to base camp without developing altitude awareness – in other words, some of the internet’s benefits have significant handicaps as side effects. The result: we see more movements, but they may not have impact or staying power because they come to public attention much earlier in their lives.
Is technology holding us back? Or are our collective lack of imagination holding back technology? Is governance even possible when people can't agree on axioms? Or when many (most?) people cannot follow logic and decide rationally?
* Photo of Taksim Gezi Park protest courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.