OUR TENETS AND VALUES
A set of core beliefs both scaffolded and emerged from the media work we did, taken from the readings we did and from our own interpretations and negotiations of remix work. Work across a broad range of authors—discussing intellectual property rights, digital and new media, the Internet, innovation and creativity, and a host of other related topics—supports our values as digital rhetoricians.
As we consider the effects of technology on media production and ways in which responsible work is created and disseminated and the ways in which old + old becomes new, one overarching ideology that emerges is that economic intent and artistic/creative intent cannot always already be seen as the same (and especially should not be always already so in the eyes of the law).
Further, a set of three questions frames our work, questions that reveal the complex nature of digital media and the changing ways in which responsible work is used and created:
- How does permission-for-use change in digital space? When is citation enough, and when is permission needed? How feasible is it to get permission for every piece of digital material available for a specific project or larger media work? How can we negotiate the fact that obtaining copyright permission is often deliberately constructed and policed in ways that are meant to circumvent use?
- How do we credit the sometimes-hidden authors of different types of digital media? How do we appropriately and accurately cite collaborative work that draws upon media pieces performed, written, and created by multiple authors and perhaps edited and merged together by other artists?
- How can we best cite and archive digital work when information moves, changes shape, and dies quickly? How can we draw upon current citation and archiving practices? What new practices might we need to create and adopt?
Again we want to assert that we are focusing on the agency and action writing teachers can take in a world of media monopoly. We are focusing on the ways in which our traditional practices of authorship and citation change shape in digital spaces. We are also focusing on the ways in which these practices bump up against copyright, and we are focusing on the ways in which our traditional practices dissolve across networks and in multimodal texts.
Thus our first set of beliefs address the limitations of outdated intellectual property law and approaches in our digital age:
- Blame is being assigned based on old beliefs rather than underlying (contextual and historical) issues. That is, the current climate of discipline-and-punish approaches to intellectual property, especially copyright-protected material, draws on dated beliefs that may no longer seamlessly carry into a digital realm. Often, these dated beliefs are applied outside of contextual and historical factors that shape the rhetorical situation in which the writer/author/creator/artist works.
- In this context of outdated law, writers and artists must be copyright activists, making and articulating decisions between just and unjust laws. Certainly, not all intellectual property laws are unjust. Many are, however, and these unjust laws must be broken to be changed.
- In our current climate, economics dictates intellectual property law and its enactment. Certainly, this is somewhat unavoidable in a capitalistic state. However, the original premises of copyright protection emerged to protect not necessarily just economics, but also creativity, which should (almost always) be favored and protected over economics.
- Incentive and compensation for creative work should be protected, in its various formats (e.g., economic gain, recognition), but access to creative work should be open.
The second set of beliefs address authoring, authorship, and authorial rights, especially in regard to today’s intellectual property climate:
- All knowledge and its manifestations—through art, music, digital media projects, etc.—is cumulative. We build on the past and require open cultural and artistic commons to do so. Our current laws hamper the healthy building of a cultural and artistic ecosystem.
- Information is meant for dissemination. What this means is that old work is—and should remain—accessible, distributable, downloadable, and usable by the next generations of digital workers, writers, and artists.
- Current intellectual property approaches are on production and product rather than on creator or artist, or on the processes of meaning-making. Process and change are key variables in our digital age and should guide the use of technologies and the development of more robust intellectual property approaches. Fighting change and using outdated laws as a shield is a dangerous model, both for businesses and for artists.
The third set of beliefs address the rights, roles, and responsibilities of authors and creators in a digital world:
- Give credit where credit is due. Creating an open, healthy, and sustainable cultural commons requires that credit is given to authors and artists. Certainly, revisions to intellectual property law and approaches due to emergent technologies, file-sharing spaces, and new media practices do not erase or even diminish the need for writers to be ethical consumers and users of others’ work.
- Along with giving appropriate and proper credit, authors should attend to intellectual property issues while constructing their work. Digital media moves, transforms, changes shape, and dies rapidly. Giving credit is now, in part, a matter of careful documentation and archiving practices.
- Authors and creators have to recognize the way their work will move and exist online, and they must take an active role in articulating needs and wants regarding their work. Being able to design with/in/for digital media will be as important as creating written/paper/textual products (skills of authoring and authorship are shifting). Further, understanding how to protect and share work, and identify the ways in which we want to share work, is a relatively new practice that today’s authors and artists must be equipped to address.