Fair use and scholarly vidding

Today I attended the Fair Use and the Future of the Commons event sponsored by the USC Institute for Multimedia Literacy. Veronica Paredes is hosting a related discussion at HASTAC.

Much of what was discussed I had some familiarity with through my work on vidding; I am in the process or revising a short essay that talks about fair and unfair use (emphasis on the possibilities that accompany the latter) through Lim’s stunning fanvid “Us”. I have, until now, kept my discussions of vidding in this space strictly theoretical. But listening to lawyers talk optimistically about fair use, learning about digitally enabled new forms of scholarship from people like Phillip Ethington, Eric Faden, Virginia Kuhn and Steve Anderson, and reading the Center for Social Media’s code of practice for online video, I realised that there’s no reason for me not to share my own attempts at transformative scholarly work.

Last year, with the encouragement of a workshop-style graduate class on alternative models of scholarship, I learned some rudimentary skills in video editing and Flash, and I used them to make a visual and textual analysis and repurposing of some recent dystopian films which fascinate me. The central film here is a fan video that makes visual an argument that, together with the rest of the framework that complicates and questions it, will likely form a significant part of my dissertation. If I can figure out how to get it into words.

Making this and sharing it in various contexts has really helped me think in new ways about scholarship, visuality, media and knowledge production. And it has given me (perhaps even not only me) some new approaches to the films and to some of the questions around gendered and racialized violence, survival, futurity and representation that it tries to articulate.

For those of you I’ve shown this to before, I’ve adjusted it so that you see a works cited, disclaimer and acknowledgment page before you click to the video. Just exercising a little fair use-related paranoia; but I rather like the result that you have to figure out how to make anything happen.

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