Into Octavarium

by MarianneShih

The title references a piece by Dream Theater that pays tribute to over twenty different songs within five minutes. Check it out here.

While pondering the subject of my blog entry, I visited the class workspace on PBworks in an effort to spark some ideas. My group had focused on citation methods for video projects and I thought that I would try and add to our section as I wasn’t coming up with any unique subjects for the weekly entry. I didn’t recall adding a link to a youtube video in our list and in an effort to streamline, I attempted to embed the video into the workspace.

I received a pop-up saying, “Plugin error: This URL is not valid for embedding.” The video turned out to be a report from CNN’s Anderson Cooper about his recent experience in Cairo.

There is no doubt that the chaos in Egypt will be recorded in books and archives. But if one was to reference Cooper’s experience, and the video was mysteriously deleted and irretrievable (if there is such a thing online) from CNN’s youtube channel, would it be appropriate to reference another user’s channel that had copied CNN’s exact video? After all, it is likely that the video has already been saved and shared with many other users. If so, should the user that copied CNN be given credit?

I can reference Anderson Cooper’s experience with a link as shown above, which leads to the ‘original.’ If another user were to upload the exact same video and allow embedding, CNN’s video loses views, comments (mostly worthless), but does CNN still lose credit when its signature tag on the bottom remains the same? We would consider Cooper’s video and commentary on CNN as a primary source. Compare the video to a photo of a scene. When a blurred photo of a photo of a photo of the photo (all taken by different people, of course) is the only available version of the original image, is it then called a whole new product or a regular reproduction and basically just as swell as the original?

Perhaps what we need to take into consideration is the purpose of the reproduction. It may be possible that all these photographers and Youtube users copy in a noble effort to preserve. It may also be possible that Youtube users copy in a less noble effort to gain views, or even to steal. However, there seems to be little that differentiates copying videos online from tragic Casual Corners imitating department store brands imitating Yves Saint Laurent and Oscar de la Renta (a la The Devil Wears Prada). And while Oscar de la Renta and Yves Saint Laurent could care less about Casual Corners, Alexander McQueen insists on suing  Steve Madden over intellectual property.

Alexander McQueen on left, Steve Madden on right
(not to imply that this clarification is necessary!)

It seems that Share, Don’t Steal only goes so far in the real world. If there is a solution for giving the creators credit to the mass-reproductions of images and words in the present day, then let it be enforced in a way that least curbs innovation that may very well be influenced by the original work.