Rip Celebrates Piracy

The ethics of copyright have been debated for a long time, as technology advances; the copyright law constantly struggles to redefine it’s self.  The American approach to copyright can be defined as a utilitarian approach, which states that creative agents innovate and develop products to benefit the large public for monetary or economic compensation.  This view tends to place the monetary compensation of distribution agencies ahead of the individual creative agents interests as the main priority.   Contrarily to the United States, the European approach to copyright is deontological, which claims the creative work as an artifact of the creator’s personhood and identity.  Thus placing the creative agent as the main holder of ownership.  The inception of copyleft is the alternative to both the American and European approach.  Copyleft allows the individual creative agent the right to implement a set of rules on how their creative artifact is distributed, shared and used.  This approach is celebrated by the documentary Rip, which I agree with as the best answer in a fast evolving society full of culture.  Rip also raises the issue of the public domain restrictions; media corporations have pushed legislation to extend their ownership of ideas to more that quadruple their original lifespan.  This issue of intellectual ownership is important enough to criticize the corporations for truly limiting cultural progress.   Limiting the power of the past in controlling the future is vital in assuring the right of a voice for each passing generation.  However the documentary tends to be biased against corporations by justifying the use of Pier-to-Pier file sharing and piracy as a cultural right without any repercussions.  Rip mocks film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan for their involvement against piracy, which ignores the important issue of technological determinism.   The reality of Pier-to-Pier sharing is that most of the public shares files with the intention of acquiring creative works free of charge, without any desire to remix or change them.  There are numerous illegal distribution rings of film and music that pirate creative media works for their own monetary gain.  It is unjustifiable to claim the intentions of many individuals under one umbrella of technological determination aspiring for fair use and remix.  Piracy is a serious threat to the sustenance and continuation of the creative process for any creative agent in our capitalist society.  However it is necessary to implement and maintain an ethical approach to the regulation of such technology.  The ridiculous lawsuits filed by the Disney Corporation against daycare centers, are examples of ignorant panic against a new technological threat that require such implementations.  Another relative example that the documentary mentions is the “illegal” patenting of a cheaper Aids medication carried out by the country of Brazil.  The capitalization and privatization of information that is for the good of all humanity is illegal.  To claim the cure for such diseases as the private property of a corporate entity or individual truly threatens humanity’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit happiness.  A balanced regulation with the infusion of sound ethics must be implemented between our ever-evolving technology and the integrity of ownership, fair use and remix.


Audience Participation Memes and Vlogging

Blogging is not inherently collaborative. Even with the use of platforms like Youtube, “sharing of content alone does not directly lead to collaboration” (Hyde et al., 2012, p. 53). Beyond the use of aggregate filtering in the form of page ‘views,’ Youtube does not presuppose audience participation. Many blogs and video channels represent the traditional mass media approach of a one-to-many transmission with little interaction with the viewers.

However, many video bloggers (vloggers) on Youtube have developed patterns for audience participation. By performing challenges, conducting ‘ask’ sessions, and even opening audience mail in front of the camera, vloggers respond to direct audience inputs . These learned activities are a great example of internet meme cultures, and the vloggers themselves often site the vlogging community or public at large as their inspiration.

The Cinnamon Challenge

The Cinnamon Challenge is an internet meme where participants record themselves eating a spoonful of cinnamon. What sounds like an innocuous dare usually causes fits of gagging, spitting, and choking due to the strong power of the spice. The results are often hilarious (if not masochistic).

Let’s check this phenomena against Davison’s (2012) components for internet memes.

Manifestation – The manifestation of the cinnamon challenge is the videos posted by participants. A search returns about 40,600 instances of these available on Youtube. The actual videos are not replicated, instead each vlogger creates their own.

Behavior – The behavior of this meme involves recording oneself attempting the challenge and then uploading onto the internet.

Ideal – The ideal is the challenge itself – the act of pouring the cinnamon into your mouth. The underlying concept here is that “people choking are hilarious.”

While a number of news outlets have warned of the dangers of these challenges, many vloggers seem to look at it as a form of initiation. Beyond internet meme, the Cinnamon Challenge may also serve as an example of social norms developed by the Youtube community. The popularity of the Cinnamon Challenge has encouraged some vloggers to also attempt other challenges suggested by their viewers.

Ask Sessions and Mail Time

In ‘ask’ sessions, vloggers respond to questions posed by their audience. The audience will post comments or directly message the vloggers in hopes of having their question answered in the next video. This type of call-and-response highlights the benefits of the social community of Youtube. This sort of collaboration leads to increased intimacy with the vlogger (from the audience perspective). ‘Ask’ sessions have also developed into an internet meme where vloggers try to answer a large number of questions in a limited amount of time.

Some vloggers will also open fan mail received from viewers on camera. This action has its own sort of culture where viewers will purposely mail in humorously strange objects or the vlogger’s favorite candy.

Collaboration and Vlogging

While this sort of audience participation is not a “strong” example of collaboration when matched to Hyde et al.’s (2012) criteria, there are a number of positive traits. The audience and vloggers alike strive toward the goal of engaging Youtube videos. Intention is assumed when audience members go out of their way to suggest a challenge, ask a question, or mail in items. The participation is accessible to any audience member that wants to take part. Vlogging falls short in areas of network topography, equality, and property as the creator ultimately retains most of the power in deciding what is released and what is excluded in the process.


I look forward to reading your blog posts. Remember they should be about 500 words (you can copy and paste from a Word doc if you prefer). Engage with the readings, add your thoughts, pose interesting questions, provide your own examples.

I encourage you to read each other’s posts and comment as appropriate. You can comment as many times as you want, but you must include at least three 200 word comments to count towards credit.

Have fun!

Dr. Vickery