2024-04-18 15:06:41
Some views of mash-up culture middlemen/movies/music/politics

The New York Times has an excellent article on the different views on mash-up culture:

Did you miss Eminem’s hit movie “8 Mile”? You’re in luck: Many of its rap battles and other major scenes are available for viewing on YouTube, the video-sharing Web site owned by Google. Indeed, until recently, the entire film was there, broken up into 12 nine-minute chunks to get around YouTube’s ban on longer clips.

An 18-year-old YouTube user calling himself Yosickoyo posted the movie six months ago. He declined to give his real name, but said in an e-mail message that he had made the film available as a favor to others who had shared movies. “I just want to thank them by uploading a movie that I have,” he wrote.

NBC Universal, whose Universal Pictures distributed “8 Mile” in 2002,
did not appreciate the gesture. The company asked YouTube to take down
the clips after it learned of them from a reporter.

“I think studios will sue if they don’t get a licensing deal they like,” said Jessica Litman, a professor at the University of Michigan
Law School. “My guess is if I were a movie studio, getting a cut of the
money is more profitable than shutting it down. But it’s complicated,
very complicated, and it’s only going to get worse.”

No one knows exactly how much Hollywood-derived content is uploaded to
the site without the studios’ consent, but academics and media
executives estimate it could be anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent.

The studios are happy to have some of their content on YouTube. Marc
Shmuger, chairman of Universal Pictures, said that for each new
release, Universal’s marketing team sends out a digital “tool kit” to
sites like YouTube with studio-approved graphics, clips, sound effects
and music videos that can be shared.

Mr. Shmuger said the studios need to embrace sites like YouTube because
they are the future of movie marketing. “If you want to be involved in
the cultural debate, you have to allow consumers to be more actively
involved,” he said. “That’s a different world order which we are not
used to.”

Already, several major music companies, including Universal Music
Group, once a corporate sibling to Universal Pictures but now owned by Vivendi,
have forged agreements with YouTube, which makes its money from
advertising, that allows music to be played in videos for a fee.

“We don’t want to kill this,” said Larry Kenswil, a Universal Music executive. “We see this as a new source of revenue for us.”

“I don’t consider any of this stuff piracy,” said Professor Litman of
the University of Michigan. “Folks are taking snippets and making them
their own.”

Ron Wheeler, a senior vice president of content protection at Fox
Entertainment Group, said that even though Fox was not being paid for
the right to use the “Napoleon Dynamite” clips, the company had not
asked that the video be taken down.

“We are not in the business of just saying no, but we do consider it unauthorized use,” Mr. Wheeler said.

Brian Grazer,
a producer of “8 Mile,” said some of the mashups he had seen were
“pretty hip.” But he said he, too, viewed them as a form of piracy: “It
bothers me artistically. Here’s this thing where you have no control;
they are chopping it up and putting your memories in a blender.”

The Directors Guild of America is already taking a hard line. The guild’s president, Michael Apted,
said in a statement that he and his fellow directors would challenge
the unauthorized use of any work. “We will aggressively protect our
members’ creative and economic rights,” he said.

Mr. Cotton, the NBC Universal lawyer, said that the YouTube
removal-request game could continue for only so long. “Sand is running
out of the hourglass,” he said. “Companies aren’t prepared to sit by
and not let this be addressed.”

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