I Saw A Movie – American Artifact: The Rise of American Rock Poster Art

I’ve only recently had the income to even consider art collection as an option for me, but as a music fan, rock poster art has long been my medium of choice. With  new avenues for emerging gig poster artists to share their work (the Flatstock poster art show and gigposters.com to name a couple) it’s very easy for a novice collector and enthusiast like myself to become educated about the scene.

With such a long and rich history, there is plenty of fertile ground for a historian to explore and recently  filmmaker, Merle Becker explored this active community in the film American Artifact: The Rise of American Rock Poster Art.

Becker interviewed dozens of artists, from 60’s poster icon Stanley Mouse to contemporary artists (and local favorites of mine,  Mat Daly and Jay Ryan) The film covers quite a bit of ground in a short period of time, moving from the San Franscico hippie scene, 80’s punk, 90’s grunge and the current indie rock poster scene in less than 90 minutes. For those new to rock poster art, it’s an effective and tantalizing primer to the world and a good entry point for new collectors as well.

I attended a screening of the film this weekend at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, which culminated with a Q & A with the director and a few local artists including Steve  Walters,  Jay Ryan and Mat Daly.

Fan labor and its impact is a continuing point of discussion here  at The Learned Fangirl, so one of the things that stuck out for me during the film and the discussion afterwards is that most of the artists involved in this movement started their careers as fans, making posters for their friends or the bands that they admired. In many cases the posters were ade without the official approval of the band or the venue where theor performance took place.

When asked about any official/legal partnerships between poster artist and band, everyone on the panel stated revealed that little more than a handshake agreement bound them. During the film, it was stated that many of the early rock poster artists would approach fans and venue owners with their wares, eithre splitting the income that was generated from on-site sales or using the posters as a “value-add” (for lack of a better term) with concert tickets.

Contrast this live-and-let-live approach to fan laborers and content owners with the very aggressive crackdown on fanworks that we see from large media companies that we’ve talked about on the blog in the past.

Sometimes I get so caught up in looking at the impact of contemporary fanworks like fan videos and mash-ups,  it’s easy for me to forget that the  economic overlap  between fan works and content creators certainly did not advent with the Internet.

Here’s  evidence that fan labor has historically been  beneficial for all parties involved, not just in  developing a cultural movement that supports content creators/owners, but in creating and supporting a brand as a whole; the music industry seems to lead the pack and lag behind when it comes to interaction with fans. The three way  continual push and pull between content creators/owners, marketing departments and their legal representation is a culprit for sure.

In light of the handshake deals between poster creators and bands, it’s especially interesting that one of the most important fair use cases revolves around the use of band posters. In 2006, in Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley, the Second Circuit held that it was “fair use” to use seven Grateful Dead posters — as part of a large collage of similar images — in a cultural history of the band, Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip (2003).

Anyone else see the film? Thoughts about it, or the gig poster scene in general?

‘Cause we’re freak remixers baby!: Lady Gaga and remix culture

On this blog, we write often about the value of fan-created works, about how fans use their creativity, using works created and owned by others. And fans of Lady Gaga has been very busy, remixing and reusing both the video and song, Bad Romance. They vary in quality and skill, but most convey the message of “This is so cool — and I want to be part of it!”

Additionally, complicating matters, legally there is a difference between the use of a work in the entirety (such a cover version) and sampling, and between using the style of a video and the music — but for fans, these distinctions don’t exist. And the parody (making fun of this work) / satire (using one work to make a statement about something else), truly falls apart in the midst of montage/collage/remix culture, where one work can simultaneously have multiple messages.

Two years ago, American University’s Center for Social Media released a study, Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video, suggesting strongly that remix culture is not only socially acceptable, but should also be legally acceptable because transformative reuse falls within the fair use exception/defense to copyright.

Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance song and video have proven to be the source material for all but one type of the nine types of reappropriation discussed in the study.

The types — in order of their frequency in my wholly non-statistically valid study (i.e. I watched lots of videos!), considering different types can exist in the same video:

  • Pastiche or collage: Several copyrighted materials incorporated together into a new creation, or in other cases, an imitation of sorts of copyrighted work: I subdivide these works into two different categories — the homage and the sample — both used extensively by remixers of Lady Gaga’s work.
  • Positive commentary: Copyrighted material used to communicate a positive message: Such as taking the “We traveled 10,000 miles to say we love you, Lady Gaga” approach.
  • Parody and satire: Copyrighted material used in spoofing of popular mass media, celebrities or politicians: Lots of examples, but have yet to find a good one.
  • Negative or critical commentary: Copyrighted material used to communicate a negative message: Many of the parody/satires included negative views of Lady Gaga, especially her physical appearance.
  • Quoting to trigger discussion: Copyrighted material used to highlight an issue and prompt public awareness, discourse: Such as commenting about Lady Gaga’s support of the GLBTQ community
  • Illustration or example: Copyrighted material used to support a new idea with pictures and sound: Such as quick, small, samples.

For these next two types, I don’t have examples below the jump — considering the always existing threat of takedown notices, I don’t want to be responsible for publicly pointing out kids having fun at concerts!

  • Personal reportage/diaries: Copyrighted material incorporated into the chronicling of a personal experience
  • Incidental use: Copyrighted material captured as part of capturing something else

The one type missing missing from these reuses is:

  • Archiving of vulnerable or revealing materials: Copyrighted material that might have a short life on mainstream media due to controversy. While Lady Gaga is controversial, there isn’t a need to archive this specific time.

Below are examples of some of these varied uses of the original — starting with the original official music video — from the official YouTube Channel.

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I read a book: Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives

Want to read a book that talks about both the spread of STDs and what unwitting problems programmers can add to a MMPORG?And the influence of friendships between members of Congress on what laws are passed? And the impact we have on the health of those we don’t even know?

In Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, Nicholas Christais and James Fowler write about the influences of others on our lives in multiple domains, including public health, politics, and online activities.

While there are sections in this book that do not contain new information to those in these fields, what is unique —  but not surprising in a book about networks! — are the connections between these divergent fields. While reading this book, I was reminded of the work of Cass Sunstein, Henry Jenkins, Yochai Benkler, Eszter Hargittai, danah boyd, and a slew of public health researchers I don’t know by name.

In addition, though written for a general audience, the book has detailed citations, for those that want to delve further. Highly recommended.

What Harujuku? and Gossip Manwha

As a followup to our recent posts about anime and Korean dramas, we have more about the cross-cultural influence of pop culture from Asia, or what Lisa Katayama calls on BoingBoing, the weird /othering of Japanese pop culture moves on to fashion.

The New York Times recently had an article on the difficulty of Japanese fashion designers to find recognition outside of Japan. Surprisingly, there was only passing reference to the appropriation of Japanese fashion — completely sans mention of the problematic aspects of Gwen Stefani and her fashion line, Harujuku Girls.

There was also no mention of the subcultural aspects of Japanese fashion that have found success outside of Japan, including anime fans, especially through cosplay — and the San Francisco branches of the Gothic Lolita store, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and the Japanese store, Black Peace Now.

And considering that NYC’s FIT recently had the Gothic: Dark Glamour exhibition, including panels and fashion from Japanese subculture, this omission from the NYTimes article is striking.

However, the article did include mentions of the Lolita fashion trend thusly:

(Although Lolita style is a reference to the Vladimir Nabokov novel “Lolita,” its look is more covered-up Victorian schoolgirl than skin-baring teenage vixen.)

— and yes, the original was in parentheses.

I’m not sure why in an article about the Japanese fashion trends this description of the Lolita fashion style was viewed as a sufficient description — girly steampunk would have been more appropriate, but that is likely still too subcultural.

Interestingly, Google search filters out the word lolita from Google SafeSearch — even though this is the title of a well-regarded novel!!!

On the other hand, Jezebel recently highlighted the licensed manhwa version of Gossip Girl. Interestingly, even the publisher decided to describe this graphic novel / comic by a Korean artist as manga (the term for this art literature from Japan) rather than manhwa (for Korean litart). Considering the growing influence of hallyu as the appropriate term for Korean pop culture, and the growing understanding about the difference between graphic novels/comics from Japan and Korea, I’m really surprised by the lack of distinction. Blair would be highly disappointed!

My AALS Presentation: Cutting the Gordian Knot: Possible Solutions to the Conflict between the Gift, Work-for-Hire, and Market Models for Academic Work

This is the abstract and a short conclusion from my recent AALS presentation; the article will be published in IDEA: The Intellectual Property Law Review. Also, for a longer version, read Rebecca Tushnet’s writeup of my presentation of an earlier draft at the 2009 IP Works in Progress conference.

Academics are involved in an unique circular relationship to intellectual property. They build their work “on the shoulder of giants” – building on the expression of ideas by others, often being paid for work relating to their production of copyrighted materials, yet the custom is for them to retain copyright.

Academics then gift, sell, or license their works to publishers, who then sell or license these works back to the institutions that were the underlying support for their creation. This leads to several unfortunate situations: institutions paying for work twice, academics holding the inaccurate viewpoint that they can use copyrighted materials as long as they are for educational purposes, and academics technically being unable to reuse or revise works once their copyright has been transferred.

Further complicating the situation is language in the licenses for many of the databases that academics use – explicitly rejecting use for non-educational purposes or commercial purposes.

My forthcoming article discusses the development of the teacher exception to copyright through both common practice and case law, but will focus primarily on the potential solutions:

  • contract: explicitly changing the contract terms of employment;
  • statutory interpretation: by interpreting fair use broadly to more explicitly include educational use by the institution that pays for the work’s creation;
  • statute: creating an exception to copyright similar to public access to government funded research by the National Institutes of Health (42 USC § 282c (2009)); and
  • license: creating an open access / institutional repository to create an access point for faculty research, similar to the new policy followed by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University.

My Solution

A Multifaceted Institutional Repository to suit the needs of institutions and faculty:

  • To include all published academic works produced through institutional funding
  • Allows for portability for faculty from institution to institution
  • Will have buy-in from all levels – prefer mandate approved by faculty
  • Will allow for other faculty at the funding institution to use without needing to be concerned about permissions
  • Use present open source searching and later searching improvements
  • Allow for additions to the repository to be made by
    • Author, publisher, or institution (such as through the library)
    • Would allow for a delay (as with NIH mandate of placement in repository within 12 months)

Want more? Including why law review publishing is an ideal place to start creating an effective cross-? Then you’ll need to wait for the article!

2010: the year when fandom becomes serious business

Around  about the end of last year,  all the big shit web 2.0 blogs started to pull together their prediction list for 2010. I was very close to pulling up such a list myself until I concluded that there was absolutely nothing that I wanted to put out there as a sure-fire prediction? Everything in this online world changes way to quickly for anyone to have a real handle on what the next big thing is, and it’s all subjective anyway.

But yesterday, i started thinking about many of the online trends in fandom, and specifically many of the topics we’ve covered here at The Learned Fangirl,  and they all seem to point to a particular trend that may come to a head in coming year.  So, here’s my one prediction for 2010:

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Why you should watch Princess Hours (Goong) on Dramafever

So now you know where to legally stream anime (at least in the U.S.) and considering our post on Hallyu was our most popular post last year, what about watching Korean dramas with English subtitles? For example, Princess Hours (Goong), one of the most popular Korean dramas, can be streamed legally from two different websites, Crunchyroll and Dramafever.

Like anime, legal streaming content from Korea is part of an interesting new economic model, allowing for media from one cultural locus to be legally spread outward near simultaneously from the source to locations where it is both diasporic and part of a subculture.

And the economic impact of Hallyu (korean wave) is significant enough that the South Korean government is promoting the export of Korean pop culture:

the Korean drama “Winter Sonata” in 2002 started the Korean wave [was] so popular in Asia that the economic benefits generated by the leading actor Bae Yong Joon alone, is estimated to account for 0.1 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2005.

Korean dramas, unlike U.S. soaps that last over decades, usually run between 20 and 100 episodes, depending on both the popularity and intended plot of the show.

One of the most interesting aspects of the legal-streaming “market” for Korean dramas is owners, licensors, and fansubbers all working together to make dramas available. While Dramafever was still in beta, Dramabeans, one of the most popular English-language Korean drama websites posted

The subtitles for many series have been provided by the companies themselves, but there’s a chance Dramafever will collaborate with With S2 fansubbers to provide subtitles to other dramas in the future.

And that has held true, as shown before the title sequence for the clip of Boys Over Flowers above (and yes, I see the irony in using an albeit, official YouTube clip), fansubbers *are* supplying subtitles. And the website for the fansub community links back to Dramafever.

I don’t forsee such a comfortable relationship between anime fansubbers and owners/licensees any time soon! But this is one great example of fan labor working to serve the interest of fans — and that of content producers — in a mutually beneficial way.

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