Sunday, August 08, 2010

Fan Video Editing Community and Copyright

In April, I gave a talk at UIUC's HCI department on fan video remix artists, or "vidders," as they are known within the fan media community. To build the talk, I drew on several years of LiveJournal network data, and a large 2-part survey I did in the spring of 2010 to document current attitudes, trends, and self-reported demographics of the community. Afterwards, I made my slides available in an annotated deck for the vidders themselves, as I had promised I would -- there were some interesting comments, including disagreement with certain aspects of the technical commentary (whether meta-data is really useful and available for management of clip collections) and whether the quote I pulled about "political correctness" as a dampener on some fans' "fun" was fair and balanced as a critique of the recent years' vidding discussions on issues of race and gender in vids. I haven't updated the annotations or the deck -- I'm posting it as I posted it to them; if someone is interested in hearing more about the community discussion, I'm happy to reply in comments or email.

I'm posting about this now because of two great things happening for this group of video editing fans -- this weekend is the annual meeting of Vividcon, a fan-run con all about vidding and vids as art and fun. I'm following the tweets with great jealousy -- I never made it off the entry waitlist this year.

The second great thing of recent days is the passage of the new DMCA exemptions from copyright-infringement laws for vidders (and other video artists) using copyright materials for artistic purposes. Since Internet sharing began, fans have regularly had their videos removed from many media sharing sites by copyright police. Some still post on password-protected private servers, rather than making them public and findable by "The Powers That Be."

Francesca Coppa posted on the blog of the Organization of Transformative Works that the case for the copyright-law exemption had been made in part based on the artists' need for high quality original source material for their remix works.

That said (and it's true), it's ironic to me that my own history goes back to the pre-Internet-sharing days, when we borrowed n-th generation tapes and made fuzzy vids with stone knives and bear skins. Check out my slide deck (pdf) for more on this. My talk includes some network analysis, one slide of which shows the "age" effect for when a vidder started vidding, and whose work they admire -- the VCR-era folks (including myself) are now off to the edges on the right and top. Fortuitously, right after my talk, Mimi Ito's article on anime fan editors came out in First Monday. I had already exchanged mail with her about her anime research, and it influenced my second round of survey questions to the vidders. Anime editors differ enormously from the vidder community; one major difference is that fan vidders are mostly women, while anime is more mixed, tending towards more male, and anime editors seem to be younger or to have started earlier, from what Mimi found. In my network graphs and quotes from the community, I show some points of overlap between anime and fan vidders, points and nodes which have increased in the past few years as the two groups learn about each other online and at cons like Vividcon.

Anyway, here are my slides: "Vidding Evolution: Community Change Among Fan Video Editors" (2010).