Copyright or copyleft?

Last week I blogged about my progress in ECI 831 and how I thought I was slowly getting a handle on some of the things that we were trying to do. That was last week… before I sat in on a class with Scott Leslie and Brian Lamb and their discussion on remixing education.  I had to re-listen to the class recording yesterday, because for part of the time, I was not even sure what they were talking about.  It isn’t that I did not realize that such things existed and, of course, I had seen countless examples of mash-ups in various places.  I just didn’t make the connection.

According to Scott Leslie, a mash-up is “taking 2 or more different things (be they content or services) and turning them into something else. I started doing some searches around the web for some ideas about mash-ups, so that I could get a better understanding.  Most of my search time was spent at the web site,  Rip! A Remix Manifesto.  I watched 8 chapters of  a documentary film about copyright and remix culture made by Brett Gaylor.  The film is done in chapters, each dealing with  different aspects of copyright vs. remix. Gregg Gillis, better known as Girl Talk,  an artist that specializes in remix music, is the main focus of the documentary. At the end of each chapter is a invitation to add to the film at Open Source Cinema and create your own version of remix, so to speak.

Now, no wonder people like me feel a bit overwhelmed trying to keep up.  I don’t know whether to give my brain a rest or keep hanging on in case I lose whatever progress I have made so far.  I am not sure how I feel about remix… Is it breaking copyright law?  Or is it necessary, so that we can be creative?  As the film points out, copyright law was originally created to promote creativity and now it seems to be trying to control it.  Is that true or does it depend on your perspective?  Should I be in favor of copyright or copyleft?

It is funny how I immediately made a connection in my own world to this whole discussion. The best part about the job that I have right now,  as learning support teacher and vice-principal, is that I have the opportunity to be in a lot of  different classrooms all the time, and observing kids doing some very cool stuff.   On Friday, I wandered in to the grade 7 classroom, mainly because I had not been able to get in there for a long time,  and got to be involved in a very interesting discussion on art and how the “idea” of art is changing.  At one point,  the teacher asked the students whether they thought that the changes in technology influence art and culture.  Inside my head I was screaming “Yes! Yes!”.  The students did think that technology does influence art, but seemed unsure as to exactly how that might happen.

Wow, is this a good time to introduce the whole remix and mash-up idea? I will forward some the the information that was discussed in our last class  to the grade 7 teacher and she can do with it as she wishes.  There is a study guide available on the Rip! A Remix Manifesto site that was put together by Adam Hodgins, a music and technology teacher at Selwyn House School in Montreal. It looked like it had some very interesting discussion questions.

I remember some aspects of this topic coming up once before earlier in the course when Jon Mott introduced the idea of creative commons and how that related to copyright.

In my search today I also came across a very interesting little mash-up video that was used as part of the last election campaign in the United States.  One of the familiar political figures was mashed into scenes from the movie, “1984” based on a novel by George Orwell written in 1949.

So, at this point I think that I will have to continue to do a  “mash-up”  in my own brain and hang on for all that I am worth.  It will only benefit me and my students.  Catch you on the back channel.