I loved the comic from Duke Law School. It was readable, engaging, visually stimulating, and cleverly referential. As a die-hard Terps fan, I consider Duke an arch-rival (I must mention this on the night of the Final Four… Go Mountaineers!) but I can temper my passions for the purposes of this post.
In any case, how does copyright apply to digital storytelling? Actually, I think that our readings tackled that rather well. Instead, I’d like to ask how digital storytelling affects copyright.
So there are all of these lo-fi, amateur videos floating out there on the web. Are they published? Are they copyrighted? I think that the answer is probably yes on both counts, but it’s stunning that this massive volume of content has been published in a way that is completely different than the ways described in the Library of Congress document and the Duke comic. Instead of applying for protection at LoC or letting a production company or distributor handle this task, digital stories seem, more often than not, to be uploaded without any assertion of ownership on behalf of the creator. This new way of self-publishing challenges our older understanding of what publishing even is.
Not to mention that there could be sites out there that might assert ownership over any content that a user might submit through the fine print of a Terms of Agreement during a username registration stage.
The question isn’t just a matter of categorization (whether something is published/copyrighted or not) but a matter of culture. Are content creators going to assert their rights? Will they mind if a corporation like Oxygen (NBC Universal) or Coca-Cola uses their content (in excess of fair use standards) to sell their products? Or if someone sells (‘pirates’) their content commercially? I think that remains to be seen, although I’d like to be enlightened if there’s anything I’m missing.