Assessing Remix Assignments: Audio/video and Fair Use
Presenter: Ben McCorkle
School Affiliation: Ohio State University
This poster session looks at a recent assignment I developed that involves remixing existing audio/video footage and uses Fair Use Doctrine as a central guideline for assessment. Students create mashup film trailers, where they combine existing audio and video in order to create subversive trailers that in some way challenge the underlying ideology of the original (it's a kinda-sorta genre on the web...you've probably seen this spoof of The Shining). After assigning the prompt, we then discuss Fair Use doctrine, talk about the fact that it's a gray area in copyright law but there are certain "litmus tests" used to argue that a derivative work is protected(adequately transformative, for scholarly or artistic purposes, etc.). This is meant to be a heuristic for getting students to think about how to work with the material, plus it helps inform their own accompanying rationale statement (so in a way, it helps inform my assessment of the work).
ENG269 (aka “Digital Media Composing”) is a lower-level course that attracts English majors and non-majors alike. No prior technical experience is required. During the term, students develop a digital portfolio that includes a variety of larger and smaller projects using different combinations of images, audio, and animation. Most of the assignments ask for “remixing” pre-existing materials to some extent (e.g., using background music for audio essay production, or using found graphical elements in a minimalist poster design), but the video project explicitly called for this. Texts for the course consist primarily of an online course packet of readings/viewings/listenings in the genres represented in the assignments.
The following is the actual prompt assigned to students in English 269.
MOVIE TRAILER REMIX
For this assignment, you will use iMovie to create a remix of a movie trailer that disrupts, complicates, or otherwise challenges the underlying ideology of the original. Convert a romantic comedy into something that highlights its creepy stalker factor; foreground the slapstick nature of the run-of-the-mill slasher film; update a classic for today. Although you may incorporate some original content in the composition, keep in mind that this is primarily an exercise in rearranging, combining, and transforming pre-existing material. This remixed trailer will be accompanied by a 2-3 page reflective statement that explains the underlying argument in your remix, as well as the technical means you took to achieve the finished product.
EXAMPLES: "Top Ten Movie Trailer Recuts"
TOOL: KeepTube (Firefox extension that lets you save streaming video files).
CONTEXT: "Fair Use" (US Copyright Office)
Incorporating Fair Use
This assignment incorporates fair use in a number of meaningful ways, including:
- as a heuristic to help guide brainstorming/concept planning. (It makes students think deliberately about such things as the purpose of the derivative work—is it critique or satire?—as well as the work's marketplace impact or relative degree of transformation).
- as a framework for face-to-face feedback during initial composing stages. (I asked students to explicitly address this in workshop sessions).
- as a central component of studio critique session.
- as a component of use in the accompanying designer’s reflective statement/rationale. (These student papers, much like some academic publications, included a Fair Use justification).
- as a part of grading rubric. (Grades partially based on the criteria of Fair Use, as well as technical, aesthetic, and conceptual areas).