Thursday, May 3, 2012

MAC Wk1 reading: Copyright issues, parts 1 - 3: O Brother!

My mother is fond of saying: there’re no new stories…it’s all just the same story, retold.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite movies, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”  The movie is essentially a remake of Homer’s The Odyssey.  Of course, the copyright on The Odyssey must surely be up by now and who would own that copyright anyway?  A fellow teacher just told me that she uses “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” to teach The Odyssey. Same story. Who knew?

If it’s all just the same story, retold…then maybe it’s all just the same music, remixed? I still have my old mix tapes from the ‘80’s, in a box somewhere, and I have CD’s that my girls and I made over the years with music mixes (of our own purchased music) on them.  Things are much easier now with digital media, our iPods are just one big mixed device.  In one of the videos we watched, they blamed piracy for killing the record stores.  I think that’s a stretch.  Digital media has been a game changer for lots of industries and only those willing to change with the times are going to survive.  I still buy whole albums on iTunes, most of the time.  And I still buy real books to enjoy the total sensation of reading for pleasure. But I think that re-mixing may be here to stay, in fact, I really enjoy some of the new mixes that use some familiar 80's tunes!

Now I’m off to watch my legally purchased copy of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”


  1. Hello Amanda,

    Where would we be without remakes? How else can we transcend time with our stories without recent updates? Historically we have been infringing copyrights, had they existed, since we started telling stories, singing songs, and drawing pictures. I think that the real question is how do we balance giving credit with sharing ideas to build culture.

    Remixing is such a powerful tool and technique for personal expression, and the memory is tangible every time you replay the songs. Being unable to sell or share your remix without providing credit and compensation is a little too confining. I think the world would be less without the creative expression.

    We need to build on those stories to create relived culture. I certainly had no idea that SpongeBob square pants had Odyssey characteristics. You consistently demonstrate a wide variety of resources about your topics, which make your blog entries interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Amanda,
    Our tastes are so similar it is scary. “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” is one of my favorite movies and soundtracks of all time. You make an excellent point about there being no new stories, just the same story retold. The Odyssey has had so many modern day takes on it (including a hilarious episode of The Simpsons), did all of these versions have to receive permission to use Homer’s work? What if The Odyssey were only 50 years old instead of 3,000 ~ would movies like this then be forbidden because of copyright law? I suppose they would. And this makes me think of The Wizard of Oz. There have been lots of movies and cartoons based on it; did the filmmakers have to obtain permission to use the characters first? Did “The Wiz” have permission? Lots to ponder...

  3. O Brother, Where Art Thou is a perfect example of realizing a new story from an old one. Perfect. And the truth is that the media companies are now going against human nature to retell the stories of our own cultural heritage that they only think they have copyrights to. :-)