Sustaining CC

Week 11.

Medosch argues that: “CC does not pay any attention at all to the issue of an economic model for supporting cultural production” Discuss.

The issue of sustainable cultural production and a sustainable remix culture is highly contentious. Lawrence Lessig says “I’m fairly optimistic that in the next five to 10 years, the views we have been pushing will actually become mainstream.” (Quoted in Garcelon 2009:1322). He is confident that a free remix culture will win out over big corporations by the power of the masses. His vision of the commons is that “Anyone can draw from the commons – and here is the crucial idea – without the permission of anyone else.” (2005:352).

His vision relies on the idea that people will continue to contribute to the commons with no reward except some virtual pats on the back and the opportunity to remix others’ work in the same way that their work is remixed. This is where Lessig fails to realise why many people create cultural works. Medosch is correct when he argues that a serious flaw in CC is the lack of consideration for professionals. People , for whom their cultural works are their living, may like the idea of CC, but cannot afford to put hours and hours into their work if their is no tangible reward at the end.

The original motivation for the Statute of Anne was to encourage people to produce cultural works so their time and effort could be rewarded financially just as a lawyer or a farmer is. Medosch argues that “money cannot be left out of the equation completely” (2008:77) and it is obvious that people who share their cultural productions are often hoping for financial returns. The CC vision dismisses this view because they see too much money going to big corporations who aren’t actually producing anything.

Triple J Unearthed is an interesting example of sharing cultural productions. The website is specifically for music artists who are not yet signed to a music label and allows free downloads of many songs. It acknowledges the way in which musicians want to share their cultural productions and be heard, but that when they become professional, they want to see some reward for their work. Most artists only contribute a few songs – all they can afford to record without help. This confirms Lessig’s ideas to a certain extent and does show the truth in Medosch’s argument. These artists want to share their cultural works for free so many people can access them, but they can’t afford to do that as a career.

James Boyle argues that “copyright, intended to be the servant of creativity, a means of promoting access to information, is becoming an obstacle to both” (2008) in his book available online for free under a CC license.  He is correct to a certain extent, as copyright moves further to the right it moves further away from achieving these ideals. These ideals are also eerily similar to those of the Copyleft, but if we move too far in that direction, we may also fail to achieve those ideas.

Medosch is correct in arguing that CC is not sustainable cultural production, but Copyright is also increasingly unsustainable as well. Websites such as Triple J Unearthed acknowledge the balance that needs to be reached between cultural productions available for free, and cultural productions that need financial help to be sustained.


Boyle, James (2008) ‘The Public Domain – Enclosing the Commons of the Mind’, Yale University Press

Garcelon, Marc (2009) ‘An Information Commons? Creative Commons and Public Access to Cultural Creations’, in New Media &Society 11 (8): 1307-1326

Lessig, Lawrence (2005) ‘Open Code and Open Societies’ pp. 349-360 in Joseph Feller, Brian Fitzgerald, Scott A. Hissam and Karim R. Lakhani (eds) Perspectives on Free ad Open Source Software. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Medosch, Armin (2008) ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’ pp. 73-97, in Deptford TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies. London: Deptford TV.


Thumbs up for rock n roll!

What do you think? Will this kid replace Charlie and his brother as the cutest kid online? He was so proud of himself for riding his bike for the first time, such a universal feeling (admit it, you were pretty proud when you realised your Mum or Dad wasn’t holding on to you anymore). I just think this is gorgeous.

On an actual theoretical level, this is a potential Youtube star – will we see him on talk shows and enveloped in the mass media machine? It is also a self aware home video created for a larger audience. The person filming this, I assume the little boy’s dad asked him what he would say to other kids – not just for a home audience it seems. Like the ‘Hey’ video this video is cool ‘because it’s reality.’ It’s the shared experience that makes it cool, as well as the cute kid!’

serious youtube

Week 9.

Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269).

Youtube has spawned many “celebrities” since its inception in 2005, but how many of them do you actually remember? Do you remember their names, or what they did in the first place? The obvious answer is Justin Bieber, there is also OK Go (who I had forgotten about until it was mentioned in Burgess and Green), and on an Australian level – the Chk Chk Boom girl and the boy who took revenge on his bully are the ones I remember. That’s not a whole lot really, and I’m generally someone who keeps up on useless celebrity gossip. All of these examples definitely have found fame though the “system” of celebrity that is “controlled by, the mass media.” (Burgess and Green 2009:23).

What I have noticed though, is that these people are making cultural productions that are already valued by and covered in mass media. Music, acting and the weird and wacky are what the mainstream media cover. I just watched another Netcommer’s video answer to this question and she talked about people who are famous only within the Youtube community, and how their fans are annoyed if they “sell out” and cross over to mainstream media.

So this got me thinking about the millions of videos on Youtube and the millions of people uploading them. It reminded me of Sean Cubitt’s assertion that “the great thing about the internet is that it allows every minor interest, every academic specialism, every rare and refined hobby a place, so the numbers really don’t matter in the same way as the old media.” (Cubitt 2008:45) It’s all these specialisations and hobbies that are ignored by the mainstream media in the first place that thrive online and have online celebrity-status and a certain degree of power and influence within their communities.

So the example I’m going to talk about is a guy calling himself Day9. Here’s his video autobiography (I haven’t had the chance to watch it all yet, It’s 1 hour and 50 minutes!)

Over 2 million people have watched that video alone (It’s so long that really is true dedication!) and his total views are over 18 million. So what does he do that makes people care so much? He commentates his games of Starcraft 2 and uploads them in order to help others improve and entertain them as well. He is a Starcraft celebrity and contributes his cultural productions via Youtube and his website. He is outside the mainstream media, because gaming has really always been outside the mainstream media. His story demonstrates Burgess and Green’s idea that “Youtube has its own, internal system of celebrity based on and reflecting values that don’t necessarily match up neatly with those of the ‘dominant’ media.” (2009:24)

It shows that Burgess and Green are right – to a degree. Celebrity and power in areas that are already valued and controlled by the mass media is only powerful for Youtubers when they “pass through the gate-keeping mechanisms of old media” (Burgess and Green 2009:24) but for areas and interests that have always bypassed the mainstream, they will continue to do so and have their own celebrities without needing to be validated by anyone outside their communities.


Burgess, Jean and Joshua Green (2009), ‘YouTube and The Mainstream Media’, in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture (pp. 15-37), Cambridge: Polity Press.

Cubitt, Sean (2009), ‘Codex and Capability’, in Lovink, Geert and Sabine Niederer (ed.) Video Vortex Reader: Responses to YouTube (pp. 45-51),  Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.

Tech Religions

You’ve had the argument. If you are remotely interested or involved with computers and have friends who are, you’ve had the argument. Depending on which side of the fence you, depends on who you think started it all. I’m talking about the PC-Mac divide. It can be worse than listening to your Young Liberal friend argue economic policy with your Greens friend. For the sake of disclosure – I use a PC. Always have, but can’t say I always will. My netbook was a gift and I appreciate it and love it and love the fact that I can buy cheap parts to upgrade it. It also has a 10″ screen so I don’t feel like I will ever need an iPad. I do feel like a traitor when I see my friends’ shiny MacBook Pros, with their prettiness and sleek interface and the amazing media projects they produce. Then I remind myself that they paid about $800 just for the Apple symbol on the back and that Apple employees in China are exploited. Although I’m still not totally convinced I’ll never buy one.

This article makes me laugh, mainly because I haven’t jumped the PC ship yet. What we learn in Net Communications is not just about how we communicate with other people online, but how we communicate with the technology itself and with the new and different mediums that have been created. Obviously, the Mac/PC argument isn’t  new, it’s been around since the 1980s. A sign of how far it is going is the MRI scan’s findings that “When images of Apple products were displayed in front of him, his brain reacted the same way a religious follower’s brain reacts when they are shown imagery associated with their religion.”

Is Mac the new religion? Will we be seeing peace talks between Mac and PC users in fifty years time? Is Steve Jobs the latest cult leader? He kind of is already, seeing as his health weighs so heavily on Apple stock prices.

Is this a normal way to react with technology? Personally I hope this doesn’t become the norm. I question everything, even things I absoloutely without question love, I question. We need to question our technology too, otherwise it might do stuff we don’t like – think about all those times you sigh and go and change your Facebok privacy settings again because Mark Zuckerberg decided your saturday night pictures needed to run free to your grandparents and bosses… If we don’t question it, what will it do without us?

And on the Mac/PC note I decided some Youtube would be fun

Being dead online

It’s not something we usually like to think about – death. I know I generally avoid thinking about it, just like other things I don’t want to do any time soon, clean my room, apply for a real job, study for exams. But other people are thinking about death and thinking about what happens to their online selves after they die. It’s kind of heavy stuff, but of course someone has found a way to make money off it. Legacy Locker is a website that  promises to execute your online will. You can organise who gets the passwords to your Facebook, your Twitter, Flickr, Youtube channel, and probably even your WordPress blog as well. You can also leave a message so that person knows what to do with them, to close them down, remove photos, make them private, or broadcast your passing to your friends and followers.

I find it all a bit weird, this article here talks about people whose partners have tweeted or updated to let others know that they have passed away. To b honest, even though I found out Osama bin Laden died on Twitter I would prefer a phone call if it was a friend or loved one I was finding out about. In the past year, a teacher from my high school passed away really suddenly and my mum found out by a phone call. Even though I wanted to share how I felt with my friends, I knew it wasn’t right to put it on Facebook – I never know who is looking. Someone else didn’t think the same way I did and posted “RIP” and the teacher’s name. The comments were “What?!?!” basically over and over again. To me, it seemed a bit wrong that this person had no control over what people were saying about her.

It’s a bit different with the generations that grew up with this technology, a young person who passed away recently in my home town has a Facebook that seems like a fitting memorial now. In the first days since he died, his Facebook wall was full of messages of people expressing how much they missed him – many more than the death notices in the paper the next week. Now, a month later people are still using the page as a way to share their memories and tell their friend what’s going on.

These experiences are obviously not very individual and they will become more common as our generation grows up. Some people will worry about privacy and what should or shouldn’t be shared or made public. In a weird way, it’s good that creepy services such as Legacy Locker are available because it is something that more and more people in our generation will think about, as we are almost completely networked online and people who feel strongly enough about it need a way to have control. I think what this shows, is that we have moved on from the question of what should be put online and what should be published – because the way we interact with technology is moving at a pace that everything is moving past that question. The new questions are how should news like this be published and when? and who to?

legal labyrinths online

This post is about an example of how legislation and privacy are being dealt with in Australia. I’m talking about Fairfax journalist Ben Grubb and his arrest after posting this article online. He was covering AusCERT, a tech convention in Queensland where a security expert demonstrated how he could access photos with high security settings on Facebook. In front of an audience, Christian Heinrich showed how quickly and easily he could find the photos of the wife of Chris Gatford (another security expert, apparently the two are not friends).

Grubb was arrested, not for reporting on the event, but because he got Heinrich to send him the photos after the demonstration – according to Queensland police, this was accepting stolen goods, just like a stolen car. He reported on his experience here, talking about how scared he was. Wouldn’t we all be scared? Police let him go, and eventually gave him his iPad back too. They said that they were still learning how to react in the online world to security issues of this nature. This also ties into the Brocial Network that I have also blogged about.

This incident brings up many issues and questions.

-What is private and what is not? Will anything ever be private?

-The people making and enforcing legislation online don’t always understand what they are doing and are often falling behind the times.

-Anyone who publishes or re-publishes something needs to be ready for the legal implications.

This is a quick wrap up of the Australian laws pertaining to this issue:

Facebook’s Privacy Policy states that users can use the copy and paste functions to capture any information from Facebook. The men in the Brocial Network group may have infringed the privacy rights of the women whose photos they had appropriated, but the property was not unlawfully obtained. Presently, there is no right to privacy at common law or under legislation in Australia.

Companies like Facebook are subject to the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 which governs the use, disclosure, collection and storage of personal data of Australian residents by companies. The Privacy Act does not, however, apply to individuals, and there is also an exemption for the media (though there is a set of Privacy Standards which have been developed by the Australian Press Council which its member media organisations are committed to observe).

It comes from this article by Veronica Scott and Kate Ballis.

networked cultures – going brocial

So last week it was reported in The Age that there was a group on Facebook calling themselves “The Brocial Network.” The purpose of this all-male group was to share photos of their female Facebook friends in revealing clothing – sometimes without their knowledge. The group had about 8000 members, including some AFL players and possibly friends of mine, or yours. This group and the way in which it was published is relevant to many of the topics covered in Net Communications this semester. The issues of privacy online, of networked cultures and sharing online are all represented in this group. Also relevant, is that the journalist who broke the story is still studying at university and has her own blog. Kara Irving could have published her scoop on her blog by herself but know that she needed the backing of an elite media institution and its front page to get coverage.

The Brocial Network highlights that nothing is private on Facebook, or anywhere on the internet – even if we share our photos and information only with our friends we don’t know how far we can trust them – especially when some friends are only acquaintances. We can’t trust in the system to keep us safe either, the Brocial Network was pulled down by Facebook, not because of the sharing of the pictures but because they broke Facebook rules by some of the users using fake identities.

This is an example of a networked culture which share materials for a shared aim – it’s gross to think about but it’s true. Although networked cultures are often idealised and exulted in the media and academia, the same principles can be used for very sinister purposes.

Does anyone else feel that the Brocial Network sets a scary precedent in terms of privacy and sharing? Should Facebook be responsible for these types of groups?

More Youtube funtimes

I’ve got a bit of a wedding theme going on with these videos, but it’s not my fault it’s what I’ve been linked to! The first one is a wedding proposal, it’s really cute:

and this one is a “Save the date” invitation in video form:

What strikes me about both these videos is that they are for family and friends but the makers of both are both very aware that there is a greater audience. Both have Youtube channels and blogs to explain what they are doing. The second one acknowledges the original composers of all the songs they use, and because it’s a parody and uses cliches it doesn’t seem to break copyright law. These videos make me think of people who are kind of trying to become Youtube stars. The proposal actually has a director who is credited and is website is listed in the caption.

I also found this website Viral Viral Videos that takes the effort out of finding these cute funny or weird videos. It all seems very self-aware, I think it would be hard to argue that there are many true merit-based only Youtube stars now.

The links to the blog is here, and the channels here and here

A question of quality

When we studied Youtube in class, we talked about whether it takes extra effort on the part of the user because they have to ignore quality issues. We forgive dodgy sound, pixellation and buffering sounds because we don’t expect it to be perfect. Youtube is the main way alot people access videos now, I wonder if Armin Medosch, who acknowledges that “[Creative Commons] does not pay any attention at all to the issue of an economic model for supporting cultural production” could see this happening with music. Making quality music with proper recording and production costs money. If people stop making money, but keep making music, will quality be the cost? People who download illegally sometimes say “yeah it’s not the best quality but it will do.” If musicians and other artists become only hobbyists and not professionals because there is no financial benefit to what they do, will we be consistently making that extra effort and forgiving short comings in quality? If Creative Commons and the Free Software movement do become the way of the future, then maybe quality may be what we lose. I’ve tried free software such as Open Office, Gimp and Audacity, but have always found the professional software, MS Word, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Soundbooth as much easier and better programs. If we want everything to be free and open, will we have to settle for less than perfect all the time?

Blogs or elite media?

Week 4.

Russell (et al.) compares elite media and institutions with bloggers and ponders the following question: “Do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (Reader, page 136). Do you agree? Use examples to illustrate your point of view.

Informing the public is the main tenet of journalism. Without a public to inform, and without publishing important information, there is no point in following up a story or putting pen to paper, or typing anything. In the past, we relied solely on elite media institutions to report what was going on in the world, in our country and in our city. Murdoch, Packer and Fairfax were powerful names in Australian media with almost unwavering control over the industry. These names are still undeniably powerful. Murdoch owned media reaches 75% of the world’s population. They’re influence and power, however, is also a shadow of what it once was. The arrival of web 2.0 technologies and an increasingly networked public culture has resulted in a downfall in the power of traditional media monoliths.

The arrivals of bloggers and avenues for independent media have challenged the authority of the media elite – something that was essential to the trust audiences placed in them, and their profits. It is unlikely that blogs will overtake elite media institutions as the main provider of news but they do serve an important function, and in some cases inform the public more effectively than elite media institutions. This is especially clear when the issues being reported infringe on the media organizations other commercial interests.

Russell et al argue that “people are actively resisting the content and practices of mainstream news” (2008:66) and ask “do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure, and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (2008:67). I believe that in general, blogs, especially news and political blogs, which I will focus on, serve an auxiliary function to the main media institutions. Most successful political commentary blogs have positioned themselves in this way because their authors understand that politically informed people who take the time to seek out and read their blogs have already got the basic facts and overview from mainstream media.

There are some cases, however, where independent bloggers are vital to informing the public. These are in situations where it is against the mainstream media’s economic interest to report on an issue and the bloggers take up a cause. Of course, in countries where the media is censored, the ability of blogs to communicate the truth is absolutely paramount. Recent protests and deaths of civilians in Syria at the hands of the state military are not being broadcast by state media, but bloggers are keeping people inside and outside Syria informed.

Locally, the issues not being reported are not issues of life and death but they are in the public interest. In the past 2 years, buying and selling of shares in media companies has been an issue of contention. Lachlan Murdoch and Gina Rinehart significantly invested in Channel 10 last year, meaning that they had significant control over the corporation. This was reported on in mainstream media, but analysed fully in blogs such as Crikey. Crikey is a collection of blogs and news articles that acts as a watchdog for much of the media.  They can analyse media ownership in a way that elite media cannot, due to the ways in which most media owners have their fingers in multiple pies, or that seemingly different news sources are all pieces of one pie.

Crikey also reported last year that The Age’s circulation figures were artificially bolstered by school and university bulk subscriptions. Although the papers are sent out and paid for (some for only $1 for the year like MUSU offered this year) many are left unread. This may seem like an innocuous bit of news, but for advertisers who pay big money to get in those pages, and people who are interested in the fate of the media industry in general, this is important.

More recently, Crikey has reported on industrial action and stop work meetings happening at Fairfax about the proposed outsourcing of sub-editors. Fairfax wont report on the people they are sacking, so Margaret Simons (a freelance journalist) has here, and this website is also keeping people up to date.

Elite media need a watchdog, just as they too are a watchdog. Blogging is not the perfect way to keep the public informed, as mostly it is a ‘seek and find’ medium. Blogs are often more editorialized, by nature, but those interests are usually personal and declared, unlike in the mainstream media. The elite media and anti-institution media both serve a purpose, but bloggers and independent online media is becoming more important in effectively informing the public.


Russell, Adrienne et al. (2008) ‘Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture’, in Kazys Varnelis (ed.) Networked Publics (pp. 43-76), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.