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Turk Testifies on Behalf of Video Remix Artists

Posted by Jenna Ray on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012

On Thursday, October 25, the United States Register of Copyrights released its recommendations to the Library of Congress regarding exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). One of these recommendations is for renewal and expansion of the noncommercial remix exemption requested by the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) in 2009. Tisha Turk, associate professor of English, testified earlier this year on behalf of the OTW, along with Francesca Coppa, professor of English at Muhlenberg College, and Rebecca Tushnet, professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.

The 2012 decision broadened the previous exemption request by allowing for the taking of short excerpts from DVDs as well as online streaming and downloading services in the creation of new noncommercial works. Turk believes this ruling is significant in that it increases the number of tools citizens have to comment on their culture. Quoting Coppa by noting that “in some ways, ‘we are all vidders now,’” Turk maintains that having the right to reproduce video is culturally and politically important.

“We live in a multimedia world. If we’re going to comment on these things, we might as well do it in a multimedia way.”

Arguing that creators of noncommercial remix videos and fan vids have a technical need for DVDs as source material, Turk testified in the capacity of a fan vidder. As a scholar, she is currently examining fan vids as a form of feminist speech. Given that her research on writing and argumentation has dealt with reinterpretations of various texts, Turk believes the transition from studying print literature to video remixes was a logical one to make.

“They’re arguments, multimedia arguments made in the same language as the things they’re commenting on. Vids are aesthetic objects that have a critical function. For me, making the jump was not a huge one. The medium is different, but not the kind of work.”