The copyright in the Network Culture

By Wei Wei

Every generation will dream the following. Postmodernism’s dream was network culture. Today, digital technology is an undeniable presence in everyday life and is inseparable from mainstream social needs and conventions. Network culture is a broad cultural of social with no limited to technological developments and new media. Obviously, the Internet was not yet privatized or significantly colonized by capital and the nature of network culture is a big question, complicated and messy — for example, the growth of open source, the rise of knowledge workers, the widespread piracy of informational commodities, the importance of bottom-up production, and the rapid decline of traditional informational industries such as newspapers 1. Does copyright really adapt to the network culture and what is the future of the network culture?

In the book of Free culture, professor Lessig pointed out that over years, music albums, movies and software of digital industry constantly tells us how digital network and technology caused the spread of piracy. But at the same time, they deliberately hide a fact that digital network and technology also play an important role in promoting the development of creative works2.  It should not be ignored that the method they used to curb piracy also will limit the creative.


For example, we know the iconic Pop Art image of Love. It consists of the letters LO over the letters VE; the O is canted sideways so that its oblong negative space creates a line leading to the V. The original image, with green and blue spaces backing red lettering, served as a print image for a Museum of Modern Art Christmas card in 1964 (wikipedia). The designer is American artist Robert Indiana. He did register any copyright of the image. People are totally free to use this image. Now the image has been rendered and parodied in countless forms around the world. The image was designed as US postage stamp also parodied in many languages and the sculpture was created in many cities. This image becomes world popular. If Robert is the right holder, he will earn lots of money. The fashion industry also has little intellectual property protection. They have trademark protection, but no copyright protection and patern protection. However fashion industry is main consuming behavior target 3.

Professor Lessig also said that the copyright of  “anti-circumvention” regulations helps decrease the piracy, but it also damages the public’s right of “fair use”. Anti-circumvention prohibits any person to circumvent the copyright owner to control their works are used and taken contact with technology, so the interests of authors can be protected in the digital environments. These technologies include preventing piracy and prevent unauthorized reading, audiovisual and use and so on. If this provision is fully implemented, the fair use of the public will be compressed and exhausted which with great significance and is the fundamental right of the public.

Every time people upload their video to Youtube, the system will automatically analyze and compare the video with the copyright materials in their huge database even though most people didn’t know about this. And the scale and the speed of this system are truly breathtaking. Youtube have the policy with other company who hold the copyrights of the original videos and music such as Sony. When they find a match, they will apply the policy that the rights owner has set down 4. The right holder decides whether this video can be published which also based on this video will bring them benefits or damage. This definitely protects the right holder’s interest, but also limited everyone’s freedom of using those contents what are really easier to find out in the Internet context.

Professor Lessig’s main discussion is that if we are only interested in how to effectively curb piracy, regardless of other issues, the purpose of reaching the curb piracy, the free culture also will be die. Rights holders biggest blind spot, their only concern is to stop the piracy to carry of interests less than in the other. They also convince everyone to legislators in order to effectively curb piracy. But for the people who are not rights holders, we must also pay attention to the culture, information and freedom of speech issues and so on what the current copyright law mostly neglected.  We participate in the digital rights ecosystem everyday. Rights management is no longer simply a question of ownership.

Admittedly, digital technology enables individual easily copy the content on the Internet, causing serious damage to the authors. It is necessary to legislate to protect the author, but professor Lessig believes that we must think about how to make the rights of authors damage to a minimum while not destroy the good side of the network functions. Why he would be so concern about strict copyright laws will hinder the development of cultural freedom? The main key is when we use other’s works it is really difficult to obtain a license. For this, we certainly cannot ask the copyright holder totally free, with out the decisions of whether or not authorize the right. But how people can easily obtain the authorization for a reasonable price and the use of books, it is the copyright holder’s social responsibility concurrently in the pursuit to improve the standards of protection and enforcement of the law.

Many people think that the copyright contributed the creation. However, copyright protection is not the only virtue of cultural creation. Professor Lessig said that in Shakespeare’s time, there is no concept of copyright and legal. Shakespeare still completed a lot of works. So the copyright protection is not entirely unique incentive for cultural creation, there is many other factors that also encourage the creation. For copyright law, only when the benefits it brings more than harm it has the value, which is what we have to strive for.

Recently, the author of Out of Control, Kevin Kelly present that new revolution of technologies will out of the mainstream come from margin area and industries. The company Dropbox succeeds because it is outside the monopoly Internet groups such as Google, Amazon, twitter and Facebook. The copyright law may not protect them. Therefore, these low-quality, high-risk, low profit margins, small markets, and other non-market characteristics will be the key to power of future. The future will certainly be some things that change our lives.





  1. Kazys Varnelis:The Immediated Now: Network Culture and the Poetics of Reality

  2. Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity
  3. Johanna Blakley: Lessons from fashion’s free culture,
  4. Margaret Gould Stewart: How YouTube thinks about copyright ,

RIVAA: Small Community Gallery of the Unique Island

By Wei Wei

Roosevelt Island

Between the island of Manhattan and Queens, there is a narrow island named Roosevelt Island in New York City’s East River. Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA)1, a non-profit organization composed of an international diverse group of artists, dedicates to enhancing the quality of life in the community through art, community events and workshops in the unique island. Supported by private donations and artist contributions, RIVAA opened the first gallery on Roosevelt Island in 2002. RIVAA is not just a gallery. It works closely with the community. RIVAA supports the community in its efforts to enhance cultural development and collaborates in educational events to promote public involvement through the arts. I took two days to participate in the outdoor art for “Fall for the Arts” annual festivals and the daily works of RIVAA’s gallery.

Fall for the Arts festival is a creative art activity that the whole community can participate. In the main lawn of Roosevelt Island, all the artist of RIVAA will spend one day to paint or sculpture while the resident can join in the painting or give the opinion to the artist and the artist will teach the young and kids how to paint or mix colors. Those paintings and sculptures will be exhibited on the lawn for two months. This event shows the community gallery’s property of participation in public involvement and education for the community. The gallery is not only an institute of art collection and exhibition but also a bridge and communication medium between community and artist. This kind of responsibility gives the community gallery more works to do, such as musical performances, theatre, dance, book signings and poetry readings and various community gatherings.

Fall for the Arts Festival

Which means inside the gallery, things usually are not simple. The artists in RIVAA will volunteer to organize and do the daily works in the gallery by a swift worksheet. At the same time the organization has its own management team with backgrounds in business, finance or management to focus on the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the gallery. This kind of combination makes lots of misunderstanding between the managers and the artists. The artists are visual-oriented which means all they matter is whether this art product is looked beautiful. While the managers are usually been marketing directed and mostly care about the budget and social influence. In the book of The Alienated Librarian (Nauratil, Marcia J. 1989)2, it pointed out “libraries have traditionally been product-oriented. The materials, Programs, and information ……have been directed toward increasing public awareness of this value. In contrast, the market-oriented organization identifies the needs and desires of various market segments, develops products and services to appeal to selected segments, and then promote them.” This kind of difference between the manager and the artist makes they have some silent conflict inside the gallery. “The marketing orientation lies in its essential compatibility to the privatization and commoditization of information.” which makes the community gallery looks not exactly like its self-introduction. Nauratil also mentioned “quality of work-life movement has been toward participative management. Worker participation can range from slipping ideas into a suggestion box to codetermination- shared decision making between labor and management.” With no doubt the more participation can reduce divergences and enhance collaboration. But I think the first thing should be find out an agreed, unified principle and purpose to work on together. A work environment without burnout is probably an impossible goal. But a pleasant working conditions, reduced paperwork, time-out, variety, and clear organization goals can buffer job stress and help individuals to feel better about their works.

One interesting thing between the managers and artists is when artist has no clue of the name of his/her paint the manager usually will force to name it to label and record the paint. The fact is when the painter drew it s/he doesn’t consider too much meaning and just want the paint looks vivid (especially for some abstract paint). But with the label of name, when people watch the paint people get to connect the literature words and the deep meaning of the work combine with their own experience and apprehension. In the book of Archive Fever: Freudian Impression3 Derrida asserts that archive cannot remain outside what it memorializes and this removes some of the objectivity with which records and archival documents are typically treated. A well-know advertisement of Dove aired this year also indicates the similar opinion with Derrida. In the video, several women describe themselves to a forensic sketch artist who cannot see his subjects. The women also are described by strangers they just met. The sketches are compared, with the stranger’s image invariably being both more flattering and more accurate.

dove you are more beautiful than you thought Dove video advertisement

As a part of the society, records managers are likely keenly aware of the socio-juridical systems that lead “truth” to the records they manage. But during the process of records in different medium and under different people the records itself have lots of change. As in the Dove advertisement, everyone see thing with various perspectives, when you familiar something it will be hard to objective to describe it as when you describe it you are analysis and assemble it with all your experience and your value standard in your mind. This kind of change can be positive also can be destructive. When records the historical information this kind of interpretation under a certain situation and people might change the truth of the history. This will absolutely be a disaster for the future. While the better thing is the RIVAA community gallery has no need to think about such significant problems.

The distinguished difference between the artists and managers is that the artists own their works while the managers own the power of those works. The fact is that tourists don’t come to New York City because of Bloomingdale’s, Fifth Avenue. The majority of them come because of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, the Guggenheim Museum, Broadway, and art galleries. Macy’s and Madison Avenue shops make money part of because of art. A place exists arts, the place has blooming business and flourish communities. The power of art and culture in building strong community has long been recognized. Michel Foucault was a French philosopher excavated the relationship between power and knowledge. In Foucault’s4 theories, materials and military are only one element of power. Power is not stable and controllable position but an energy-stream that through the whole society. One source of power is expressing the knowledge. Foucault didn’t see power as a form, but explain it as a way to using social institution to express a truth in order to infliction their purpose to the society. Which means the arts and the artists have no power but the managers and the institutions who and which owned them have the power. So non-profit or profit purpose of an art gallery should always be a question. Small gallery is a microcosm of the public information institution.

  1.  RIVAA. (2013)., About Me Part, website
  2. Nauratil, Marcia J. (1989). The Alienated Librarian. New York: Greenwood Press
  3. Derrida, Jacques and Eric Prenowitz. (1995). “Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression” Diacritics 25(2):9-25, 53-63
  4. Foucault, Michel. (1982). The Archaeology of Knowledge, Part 3

The roles of the library of congress

By Wei Wei

In the world, no library has the influence and the prestige of library of congress. In 1800, when government was moved from New York to the new capital city of Washington DC, the Congress established its Library. According to its mission, the Library is “to acquire, organize, preserve, secure, and sustain for the present and future of the Congress and the nation a comprehensive record of American history and creativity and a universal collection of human knowledge.”This mission holds true today, even as they broaden the ways in which the library fulfills it. More recently, the mission of it has been articulated as follows: “To support the congress in fulfilling tis constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people.” 1

As is a library belongs to the Congress, no doubt, the library’s single most responsibility is to provide the authoritative research, analysis and information to the Congress to help the US Congress to fulfill their duties. The Law library of Congress is a good example. The Congress will get the comprehensive research on international or U.S law and other legal reference services from the Law library of congress. This mission of the library of congress continues to hold today and will always exist first and foremost.

As the biggest collection in the world, the library of congress owned over 145 million physical items including books, movies, audios, maps, and photos. (Library of Congress website) One of them has a significant historic importance that is its collection of around sixty five million manuscript. This collection holds some of the most treasured documents at the library from the presidential paper to original draft of poems. In the world of print materials, the library of congress is famous for being the world’s largest library. Now, the library is on the way to hosting the largest digital collection in the world with more than 700 terabytes of data. The library of congress has been leader in digitizing primary sources. Because of the copyright issues only of two hundred of those can put online for worldwide education, learning and research. The online primary source files number more than 19 million and have greatly expanded access to unique and historically important items and full collection. 2 The library of congress opened their Audio Visual conservation in July 2007 and started to use Flickr to archive their photo documents since 2008. From 2010, they use twitter to save all their public communication. Recently years, they also established environmental monitoring program and tried to build a new storage facilities at Maryland. All those efforts are trying to preserve more physical and digital materials so that the future generation may use, learn from and be inspired by those information. Acquiring, preserving and providing access to a universal collection of knowledge and the record of America’s creativity is the greatest responsibility of the library of congress which is also a huge tough and never ending work. 3


In the nineteenth century, the United States Constitution (Article1, Section 8) empowers Congress to

Promote the progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors…the exclusive Right to their… Writings…

The Copyright Act achieves this goal to protect the authors’ right. The congress placed the library the function of sustain an effective nation copyright system. The library of congress is not isolated, it also need and have the duty to lead and work collaboratively with external communities to advance knowledge and creativity. That seems included all the missions and roles of the library of congress.

Since talking about so many roles, missions, and responsibilities of the library of congress. As the largest library in the world, the library is definitely not neutral, it present of the Congress. In this strike of federal government, the library of congress totally shut down. Also, the library of congress has so many treasured documents such as Shakespeare’s original first draft, the hand-copy of Beethoven’s sketch. But in fact, the public may have to chance to see those face to face in their whole life. Surely, only a tiny part of the future generation could be inspired by those preservations. Moreover, in the last decade, the library of congress really did a great job to digitize most of their physical materials including books, pictures, and maps in large size. Due to the copyright system, only two hundred of them can be visit online. So we couldn’t stop thinking who are their patrons after so many hardship. If citizens could not access those information, it feels like hundreds ponds lighter even under such a pressure of an endless, tedious, complexity, omnifarious work.

  1. Strategic Plan of the Library of Congress: 2011-2016
  2. VOA news 2009-10-09,
  3. A digital strategy for the library of congress (2000), page 146-149
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