Blog to support the book "Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs" by Kristen Fischer

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Location: Point Pleasant, New Jersey, United States

30-something Jersey gal working as a freelance writer. Starbucks addict, beach-lover, kitty mother.

Creatively Self-Employed Website

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Copyright in the digital age.

Georgia Tech study reveals copyright complexities, social norms in online media creation

In the age of mashups, fan fiction and content sharing, online media creation has spurred new complexities in copyright, effectively turning the legal concept of "fair use" on its ear, according to a new study from Georgia Tech.

Research into fan fiction and other types of remix communities reveals many legal misconceptions persistent among different groups when applying copyrighted work to their own creations. The research also highlights online social norms – independent of actual law – that guide the use of copyrighted works in fan communities.

For the study, Georgia Tech researchers interviewed content creators who participate in remix and fan creation activities – think "Gangnam-style" parody videos or Twilight fan fiction – and found that legal ambiguity, rather than technical limitations can be a higher barrier to creating media online. The study focused on participants' understanding of the U.S. copyright law's "fair use" provision, which allows for the use of copyrighted material without permission from the owners in certain instances.
"We wanted to take a group of people who make subtle judgments about what they think they can or can't do in a legally gray area and see how that affects their daily decisions in what they are creating online," says Casey Fiesler, Ph.D. candidate in human-centered computing at Georgia Tech and the primary investigator in the research.

The study revealed several common legal myths about fair use that were strikingly similar among participants who represented different media types (fiction, art, video, graphics and music). These included:
  • Perception of noncommerciality as the sole deciding factor of fair use. (REALITY: Courts use a four-pronged test to determine fair use; also, monetary gain doesn't necessarily forbid fair use of copyrighted content.)
  • Blanket exception for educational use. (REALITY: There are no such blanket exceptions, although parodies have been tested in case law and more often than not were protected as fair use.)
  • Addition of attribution as an explicit fair use factor. (REALITY: Giving credit to the original copyright holder is not required as part of the law, nor does it automatically protect the new creator.)
Fiesler, who also holds a law degree from Vanderbilt University, says the problem with fair use is that it's decided on a case-by-case basis. She said: "The only way you ever know for absolute sure that something is fair use is if you are sued, and a judge says 'Yes, it's fair use' or 'No, it's not.'"
Researchers also discovered patterns of ethical judgments by participants that are related to fair use. These included:
  • Distinction between "profiting" from someone else's work and commerciality. In fan communities, even if money doesn't change hands, tangible benefits to the remixer/fan creator are frowned upon.
  • More consideration for the "little guy" with respect to market harm. The perception exists that individuals are less likely to obtain content illegally and more likely to attribute a source when the copyright source is a smaller artist.
  • Potential for "market good." This is a notion that remixes and fan works expose copyrighted work to broader audiences.
  • Implicit attribution. This is an idea that attribution isn't necessary when the content source is obvious.
The research indicates that many of the participants' ethical judgments likely stem from the social norms of larger fan communities that predate the Internet. The fandom community has a "gift" economy, rather than a commercial one, says Fiesler, and that helps dictate norms about how both the underlying works and the new works are treated.

Where the law is vague in what constitutes commercialization, the Georgia Tech researchers found that fan communities often extend the definition to any type of "profiting." One participant, for example, said that banner ads on a website with remixed work is profiting from the art and should be disallowed. Fan debates on what qualifies as profiting also help to keep the artists in line with legal doctrine.

"What the community typically believes and does can actually affect what is judged legal," says Amy Bruckman, professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech and researcher on the study. "So it's in their interests to have cohesion to craft codes of best practice."

Researchers also found that content creators receive uneven guidance on fair use from market leaders who publish their content. YouTube's Copyright School (a four-minute video for copyright offenders) features a cute woodland creature that attempts to push the fair use legal information off the screen when it appears. Fiesler says YouTube's approach might imply that fair use is too hard and that anyone considering it should get a lawyer or beware, a message that could have a chilling effect on how technology is used.

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link | posted by Kristen at 8:19 AM | 1 comments

Monday, November 25, 2013

How to Use Your College Major for Career Success (Finding Career Bliss, Part 2)

Inevitably, some people will choose a college major that has nothing to do with the career they want. In my experience, finding career bliss has a lot to do with using your innate talents and skills. And that’s why it’s vital to choose a major because it’s viable—not just because it is interesting.

Everyone is different, and you have to go easy on yourself if your interests and goals change after you graduate. I spent a few years mentally beating myself up for getting that environmental degree, until I realized I could use it as part of my platform. Then I did, and then it was all worth it. No experience is ever worthless; you just have to figure out how to use it to your advantage when you finally figure out what field you do want to get into.

Read the rest: How to Use Your College Major for Career Success (Finding Career Bliss, Part 2)

link | posted by Kristen at 1:00 PM | 0 comments

How to Select a College Major You'll Actually Use (Finding Career Bliss, Part 1)

When someone says she’s going to college, the first thing most people ask is usually, “What’s your major?”
While students have to have a major declared at some point during their college career, they shouldn’t rush into picking a field without first considering their natural abilities and skills.

Here’s why: Young people get so consumed with picking a major. As they progress in their studies, they may find out they no longer want a career in their field. Or, like me, they may not come to that realization until after they graduate and need to pay off all the loans that made that degree possible.

Read the rest: http://www.parade.com/232141/kristenfischer/how-to-select-a-college-major-youll-actually-use-finding-career-bliss-part-1/

This is the first of a two-part series of articles I wrote for Parade magazine. Read all of my career articles for Parade here.

link | posted by Kristen at 11:38 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Navigate Copyright Laws with Kiffane Stahle!

Photographers: How to Navigate the Online Copyright Registration System

This workshop will walk you through the online copyright registration system and you will leave ready to submit an application to the U.S. Copyright Office.

You know that you should be registering your copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office. Maybe you've tried and the legal jargon tripped you up. Or maybe you've done it but weren't 100% sure that you prepared the application correctly. Or maybe the 1990s website made you bonkers.

Fear no more, this workshop specifically designed for photographers will guide you step-by-step through the process and will help you in preparing an application for submittal. We'll also talk about a couple of tricks within the system available only to photographers.

The workshop will also cover common pitfalls, breakdown the legal jargon, and talk about simplifying your workflow to make registration a regular occurrence.

During the workshop we will walk through the application together. As we do so, you can enter your personal information as we go along and at the end of the workshop you'll only need to pay your application fee and upload your work to have a batch of your photographs protected!

The workshop will be conducted online-only via Google Hangout so you must have access to this platform to participate.

Completing a couple of other steps will allow you to get the most value out of the workshop:
  • Registering as a user in the eCO system. If you need to register, click here.
  • Filling out the PDF sent upon registration to gather the remaining information you'll need to complete the application.
  • Gathering the materials you want to register in one of the approved file formats. (The PDF sent to you will have best practices on how to gather and batch these materials.)

Once you register for the workshop, I will send you the PDF and a link to the Google Event where the Hangout will occur. On the day of the event, you will login via Google Hangout and click the "Join Hangout" button to participate.

Space is limited to nine participants, to allow participants to have their individual questions and concerns answered.

If you have any questions, please contact me at kiffanie@stahlelaw.com.

link | posted by Kristen at 9:55 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Keep listening to Freelance Radio

Don't forget to tune into all new episodes of Freelance Radio.

As always, want to hear from you! Send questions and comments to mailbag@freelanceradio.com!

link | posted by Kristen at 6:31 AM | 1 comments

Thursday, May 23, 2013

"When Talent Isn't Enough" giveaway!

Win a copy of my new book here!

(lovely graphics by Mollie!)

link | posted by Kristen at 6:28 AM | 1 comments

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


link | posted by Kristen at 6:13 AM | 0 comments

Friday, January 25, 2013

3...2...1...book launch!

Big news!

My third book, When Talent Isn't Enough: Business Basics for the Creatively Inclined is out in stores now. You can also take a peek inside it at Amazon!

Other goodies:

link | posted by Kristen at 8:32 AM | 0 comments