Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mashups and Fair Use

As I was sitting at my desk this morning, writing an article for an upcoming newsletter, I happened upon the idea of fair use guidelines and mashups. An interesting part of the mashup culture is this idea of permissions... or lack thereof. Just like the DJs of the past, today's young mashup writers aren't really worrying about who owns the content they are using for their application. Indeed, in a very nice turn of events, most of the web services providers don't care that much about how their services are used - they care more that the services simply used.

That sort of mindset is different than other industries, such as entertainment and digital content. As I was researching the intersection between mashups and legal issues, I found this wonderful 11 minute mashup video from JD Lasica exploring the bounds and status of fair use in mashups.

I understand that this is really not about telephony per-se, but certainly about mashups. Let me give you a concrete example of how this might affect our industry. You are a service provider, and you allow your customers to load up a ring back tone for their account. When people call your customer's number, they will not hear ringing, but whatever .WAV file they uploaded. If the customer uploads the latest Ally and AJ song, is that fair use? If they only use 29 seconds of it, is it OK then? If not, who's responsible?

Extra credit time! I will buy the first person lunch at the finest restaurant in Hyannis if they can tell me who is in the picture on this post, and why I picked him.


jd said...

Thomas, that's Chuck D of Public Enemy. Public Enemy's brand of stitching together short clips of other artists' sounds for their rap albums was found illegal by the courts, and they and all of hip-hop no longer can sample the culture as they had in the past. In addition, Chuck D contributed to the Wired CD with a single released under a Creative Commons license.

Thomas Howe said...

Exactly, and frankly, I don't think the decision to demand payments for samples has benefitted anybody... not the artists, the record companies or the fans. I think it's an excellent parallel to what we have today.

If you'd like to read it, an excellent article is here :

Thomas Howe said...

Oh yeah, and just for the record, Chuck D is one of my heros and role models. Flavor Flav is just funny (I still want to go as him for a Halloween - I even have the clock), but Chuck is a true genius.