By Dr. Angela Laflen
Amy Wagner created “Article 13: Banning Memes and Modern Cultural Expression” for an upper-level composition course on the topic of Multimedia Writing in Fall 2018. In her final research project for the course, Amy focused on several issues we had discussed throughout the course including the cultural significance of Internet memes, the implications of copyright law on online expression and Internet culture, and digital storytelling. Amy researched Article 13 of the European Union’s Copyright Directive to consider how attempts to protect copyright online could have the additional effect of limiting online expression, and she focused specifically on the impact to Internet memes, arguing that memes represent a significant form of cultural expression worthy of protecting. Even though Article 13 was later amended to specifically exclude memes and mashups, Amy’s video essay provides insight into how efforts to protect copyright online can have unintended consequences on Internet culture, and it also documents the online activism of Internet content creators as they pushed back against the encroachment of Article 13 into online expression.
Students were encouraged to think about what multimedia form they wanted their final projects to take and how they wanted to disseminate them to their audience. Amy chose the form of a video essay for her project and published the essay on YouTube. I like how she wove relevant clips from new stories, TedTalks, and other online videos into her own video and how she highlighted quotations from her scholarly sources and her own script to draw the reader’s attention to particularly important or complex ideas and terms. As one of Amy’s reviewers notes, this form bridges the gap between formal video essays and informal commentaries common on social media sites such as YouTube and in doing so maximizes audience engagement and makes the topic and Amy’s research comprehensible to a wide range of audiences.