VIDEO SLAM 02: Remix Forum!

Remix Forum screen shotThursday evening, 22 May, saw the culmination of the second OPEN CHANNEL VIDEO SLAM for Arts Law Week 2008. Some where in the vicinity of 70 – 80 people took themselves to the Horse Bazaar to view the four short videos our sixteen participants had made and to hear our panel’s assessment of them.

Setting up the venue took the best part of the day, particularly as another Arts Law Week forum on social networking was to be held there that afternoon. By the time they were done we had about two hours to have the stage set up, the tech in place, cameras and the wireless Video Unit running, the VJ rig installed… and our VIDEO SLAM teams had to have their shorts completed no later than 6pm!

Come 6:30 I was copying each of the completed videos onto my laptop and readying them for screening later in the evening. Everyone came in on time, one team finishing at 3 in fact!

The Remix Forum

At 8pm I opened the Remix Forum and we got under way. I explained that VIDEO SLAM is both a rights management and production workshop… and that in particular we’re working with Creative Commons licenses to ask the question, can we make films using legitimate samples and is there enough content out there that’s correctly licensed to help us make this happen?

The Remix Forum would look at both the legitimate and illegitimate use of appropriation in the arts.

The video artist Emile Zile was our first guest up with an entertaining overview of his arts practice. As Emile himself says, his work disregards copyright entirely. To give you an idea of what Emile had shared with us, here’s a selection of his videos.

Shiralee Saul followed with a brief talk on copyright issues associated with curatorial responsibilities. This was supported by a delightful presentation based on materials she had available in the only medium many artists worked with at the time, – the 35mm slide. Luckily, Shiralee had been able to scan a selection of works that day, works from a project that was to provide visuals that would be available within the public domain… a project from the late 70s / early 1980s, well before Creative Commons or any open rights management tools as we know them today.

With the VIDEO SLAM shorts next up, our legal team, Shaun Miller and Elliot Bledsoe took to the stage. The theme and the process was then revealed.

Theme and process

Of our four VIDEO SLAM teams two were to produce 2 minute videos using entirely legitimate content. The remaining two teams could use what ever they liked from where ever they liked. Both teams had to ensure, at the very least, that they didn’t breach and Australian defamation law. Their theme subject matter was the Melbourne Lord Mayor, John So.

john so arbitarySo HardMy BroThe John S(h)o(w)

Teams #1 and #2 created the free reign videos john so arbitary and So Hard. Teams #3 and #4 came up with My Bro and The John S(h)o(w). They had to ensure their videos were entirely compliant with copyright law and in doing so had to log every sound, every photo and every video they found on the web onto a networked, Google spreadsheet.

Each sample was then individually checked to ensure no copyright breaches were made and that the correct mix of Creative Commons licenses were employed. Thanks to Elliot for his sterling efforts on that spreadsheet! A project like this really can’t work without someone of his expertise on hand.

The verdict

It was curious! Shaun Miller was pretty much convinced that Teams #3 and #4’s were clearly in breach of copyright, but gave Teams #1 and #2 the all clear, stating that they fell neatly into Australia’s new parody exception to the Australian Copyright Act (1 January 2007).

The audience’s verdict for all four videos was clearly heard… All four had received hearty and enthusiastic applause! All four teams deserved it… not only had they achieved the task of producing these videos in under 20 hours, they’d all created entertaining works that are, to the best of our knowledge, and that of our legal panel, entirely compliant with Creative Commons licenses, and Australian Copyright and defamation law.

As an Arts Law Week Project, I believe it was another outstanding success with a fair compliment of lessons learnt and tangible outcomes…


Thanks to OPEN CHANNEL and a particularly vast, open armed and bellowing shower of graciousness to everyone at Horse Bazaar for their unyielding support. We couldn’t have pulled it off with their venue, their expertise, equipment and facilities.

Thanks also to Jonty Burton for a stunning live re-appropriated remix of the Forum.

Thanks to the Victoria Law Foundation and Arts Victoria for funding support of Arts Law Week.

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