Thoughts on BuzzFeed

Apparently some people really hate BuzzFeed. Who knew? I sure didn’t. I found the article I Hate Buzzfeed very interesting because my roommate is currently applying for an internship at BuzzFeed. The article claims that BuzzFeed “attacks our collective intellect, worsens civilization and collects a handsome reward for doing it.” To be honest, I haven’t thought twice about the content on BuzzFeed, even once my roommate started applying for a position there. Rather than analyzing the content and purpose of the site, I simply accepted and enjoyed what it provided me: entertaining pop culture “articles.” After reading I Hate BuzzFeed, I admit I am a little ashamed of myself. I never considered where the BuzzFeed images came from, and never realized how the company lacks to rightfully cite creators and authors.

The article continues to discuss the purpose of BuzzFeed: to use their audience for profit. BuzzFeed does this by creating an article that relates to a specific demographic, then featuring ads on this article that are aimed at that specific audience demographic. So how to BuzzFeed get away with all of this? Isn’t it illegal to use other peoples ideas and images for profit without their permission? Apparently BuzzFeed claims they are abiding by Fair Use. As I discussed in my Writing & Digital Media final project, Fair Use is an extremely blurry area of copyright law. It seems as if BuzzFeed is using this blurriness to their advantage, and is claiming that these posts are “authentic forms of expression.” How is a resource that you do not own or have the rights to “authentic” to your company BuzzFeed? I’d love an explanation.

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Learning Styles

For my Writing & Digital final project I thought it was important to challenge how we expect to see information presented. Usually we are presented with either a text-based article, a podcast, a video, or another form of communication, but rarely do we get to chose how we want to experience the information. I transformed my scholarly webtext into three experiences: Read, Watch, and Listen. By giving my audience the option to chose the experience they want to have, they are more likely to absorb the information.

My goal was to communicate as effectively as possible to my audience, so I thought it was important to consider the many different learning styles my audience may have. The Read section offers users a “verbal” experience. Verbal learners prefer the use of words in reading and writing. Listen is catered to “aural” learners who understand information best when it is presented as sound and/or music. Watch is particularly attractive to “visual” learners, who prefer using pictures and images to evaluate information. However, Watch also includes text and audio, so it also appeals to verbal and aural learners as well. By providing different experiences to users, they can chose which one best suites their learning style and environment.

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Copyright Reformation

Although I believe education is the most immediate, tangible solution to the many problems caused by the illegal use of copyrighted material, reformation of current litigation needs to take place. Laws that surround the use of expressive materials are extremely outdated because they were established during the era of the printing press, and need to be changed to reflect how they are being used today. The development and availability of technology has led to the increased use and sharing of copyrighted materials, but the law has not kept up with these rapid changes.

I think the best solution to reform copyright law is providing creators with a “some rights reserved” option, rather than the “all rights reserved” protection that is currently the default. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides an alternate licensing system that works within the U.S. copyright system. Creative Commons provides authors with a some rights reserved option, allowing authors to chose the permissions they want for their work. Creative Commons builds upon current laws, but in order for this to be even more successful the actual laws need to change to reflect the progression that this company has established. If copyright law gave the option for authors to chose specific ways  for how they wanted their work to be protected, I believe collaboration between creators and consumers would be encouraged.

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Copyright Education

In order for our approach to the use of expressive materials to change, education needs to make place. A study conducted by Harvard in Youth, Creativity, and Copyright in the Digital Age found that most youth that are using copyrighted materials illegally are not aware they are doing so. In order for this to change, education about copyright law needs to take place in the classroom. I know from my personal experience I never learned about copyright law in the classroom. Rather, I was always told that whenever I am using materials that are not my own I need to cite them. Rather than looking further into what particular resources need to be cited, and when and how I could use them, I accepted this and continued this practice throughout my education.

I am now a Junior in college and am just now questioning the way I approach expressive materials that are not my own. If my curriculum would have included information about copyright law, I would have a very different approach to the use of these materials. Education about current copyright laws and regulations is the quickest, most tangible solution to the array of problems caused by the illegal use of copyrighted material.

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Youth, Creativity, & Copyright in the Digital Age

As discussed in my last few posts, I am just finishing up my final project for my Writing & Digital Media class about creativity and copyright. One of the main sources that influenced my composition was Youth, Creativity, and Copyright in the Digital Age. Originally I was planning on creating a piece simply discussing litigation about expressive materials, but after discovering this article I was also intrigued by the relationship between these materials and the people using them in the digital age. The article not only touches on the basics of copyright law, but also discusses why it functions the way it does. Furthermore, it also touches on why youth are often unaware of the litigation surrounding the use of these expressive materials.

I spent a significant amount of time for this project on research, because I was one of the many youth unfamiliar with copyright law. The article discusses a study conducted by Harvard about the relationship between youth and copyright law. The study found that most youth that use expressive materials illegally are not aware they are doing so. After researching more about how youth are using creative resources in the digital age, I concluded that two things needs to occur to change the way youth use these materials: education and reformation.

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Creativity & Copyright Final Thoughts

I am finally in the last stages of revising my Writing & Digital Media project about Creativity & Copyright! I decided to utilize three different forms of communication: reading, watching, and listening to provide my audience with multiple ways to experience my project. By providing multiple ways to experience this information, my audience is more likely to absorb the content by choosing the communication that best suites their learning style and environment they are in. For the “Read” portion, I included text about creativity and copyright, and featured the titles (including the same typeface and color palette) I used in the “Watch” video to connect the two together. In the “Listen” portion, I used the same audio from the video in “Watch” to connect the two. I tried to create continuity between all three forms of communication so that users received the same information in each portion. I am hoping that my project encourages my audience to change how they look at and use expressive materials. Through education and reformation, I truly believe we can change the use of creative materials to encourage cultural collaboration. Like I said, I am in the last stages of revision but visit Creativity & Copyright if you want to take a sneak peak!

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Creativity & Copyright

For my Writing & Digital Media Final Project I am writing about creativity and copyright law. I was inspired to explore this topic because of my experiences with using expressive materials that are not my own. As a graphic design student, I am required to create designs at an extremely fast pace, and often utilize images that I find on the internet. Although I cite these images, I am usually unaware of their copyright protections. After learning about Creative Commons in my Writing & Digital Media class, I became interested in the relationship between creativity and copyright law.

For one of my graphic design projects I was required to create a cookbook. I decided to photograph all my own images, but wanted to use recipes I found online. I assumed that recipes were protected under copyright law, so I changed the ingredients and measurements of the recipes to protect myself from copyright infringement. However, after I created the project I discovered that only certain components of recipes are protected by copyright. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, copyright law doesn’t protect recipes that are mere listing of ingredients. However, copyright protection may cover a  “substantial literary expression,” such as a description, explanation, or illustration, that accompanies a recipe.

For my final project, I did extensive research on the relationship between creativity and copyright law. Through my research and writing, I was able to educate myself and create a piece that will hopefully also educate others on the basics of copyright law and how it applies to expressive resources.

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So if you read my last post you know I was really excited to create an infographic about unpaid internships for my final project in my Writing & Digital Media class. Unfortunately, I missed the mark and had to chose a different topic for this assignment. However, I will probably still create the infographic in my spare time so be on the lookout for a post that features it!

Anyway, my new topic is Creativity & Copyright. I chose this topic because I am interested in the relationship between the ever-growing resources available in the digital age and people who use and share these materials. It is extremely important for people using these sources to know the legality behind what they are doing, but many people are left in the dark because copyright litigation is very complex and most education systems do not thoroughly explain these rules. I want my final project to introduce my reader to the basics of creativity in copyright law, then make suggestions for education and reformation.

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Scholarly Webtext Part II

As I discussed in my last post, for my Writing & Digital Media final project I am required to create a “scholarly webtext.” I have decided that I am going to create this webtext based on the legality of unpaid internships. In my last Writing & Digital Mediaproject, Piktochart: A Quick Fix, I examined the potential of an automated infographic generator. In my analysis I found that infographics have potential to effectively communicate complex data and lengthy information. There are many laws and statistics about the legality of unpaid internships, and I think that transforming this complex and wordy information into a visual graphic will make the information easier to assess and understand. I also think that by creating a visual for this information I will better reach the audience that I would like to reach the most: college students. I would also like to target employers, but my primary goal is to educate people who are pursuing these unpaid internships.

I am planning on including several infographics and publishing them on a website. I may create one infographic for those pursuing internships (the intern), and another for those looking for interns (the employer). I would also like to include an infographic that guides my audience through the steps of determining if an internship is legal. However, depending on where my research leads me, I may create a single lengthy infographic. I am going to publish and present my infographics on a website so that my findings are accessible to the greatest amount of people.

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Scholarly Webtext

For Writing & Digital Media final project, I am required to created a “scholarly webtext” that displays my knowledge and skill of communicating professionally on the web. I am allowed to chose my topic for this assignment, so I have been researching potential subjects that I may explore. The primary topic I am considering researching right now is the legality of unpaid internships. Unpaid internships are becoming more prevalent in the United States, but many people are becoming more aware of the legality of this free work. Many studies have shown that the number of illegal unpaid internships is rising.

I will begin this assignment by researching current federal and state labor laws. After gathering the facts, I will look into the definition of an intern and an employee and investigate the enforcement of labor laws. I think it is important for me to become an expert (as much as I can within the timeline of the assignment, of course) on this topic before I transform the information into a visual. I will be summarizing a lot of the information, so the more knowledgeable I am about the topic the more capable I will be of providing the most important and relevant information to my audience. I am hoping that I will be able to share my knowledge after I complete this assignment so that more students are aware of the potential legal issues of unpaid internships.

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