Cultural convergence and stormtroopers

I just read an interesting article on The Australian‘s website about how online advertising business is in decline. It’s called “Online ads are no refuge from the slump” and reports how first-quarter ads are down by $22.5 million as compared with the previous quarter.

Henry Jenkins’s article“The Poachers and the Stormtroopers: Cultural Convergence in the Digital Age” was an interesting read. Although a bit outdated − it was published in 1998 − it discusses currently relevant subjects of copyright and intellectual property, and how the laws associated with these concepts are challenged through what Jenkins calls “cultural convergence”. This is a term Jenkins coined to describe “new ways audiences are relating to media content, their increased skills at reading across different media and their desires for a more participatory culture”. When defined in internet terms, this is Web 2.0.

Jenkins gave the example of Star Wars. He compared Lucasfilm’s reaction to two incidents of fan-created material, one being a short film Troops and the other being stories featuring Star Wars characters, locations and themes. He questioned why the film was applauded by George Lucas while the books were smothered as they were seen as overtly violating copyright laws. If this was an issue 11 years ago, it’s even more relevant today. With the amount of web content being uploaded every day, it would be impossible for copyright to be constantly policed.

Speaking of copyright, Fitzroyalty blogged this week about a dispute that occurred between the blogger himself and Formula One Management, which was reported in I fought Formula 1 Mangagement and I won. He had uploaded videos of the Melbourne F1 races in March of this year and Formula One Management complained to Youtube and asked to have the video taken offline. The video has been allowed to stay as apparently the video doesn’t violate copyright. This is a good example of how citizen journalists and bloggers should be aware of their rights, but also realise they aren’t immune from the consequences that traditional news providers face should they break the laws of copyright, contempt of court, defamation, etc.

My web project group has been pretty quiet this week. I assume that the lack of email communication means that things are running smoothly and we’re all busy writing.

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