Response 2 – S.978 Remix – Safety of the Internet (4.1)

by Kristi McDuffie

“S.978 Remix” is a video argument against the proposed U.S. senate bill that wants to make it a felony to stream copyrighted material on the web. The remix uses clips primarily from vloggers (video bloggers) who are protesting the bill, along with clips from South Park, old movies, and more. The remix uses these clips to weave a narrative about the bill, explaining what it is and its predicted effects. The remix is an indictment of the bill, and the vloggers contained within declare that it infringes on fair use, freedom of speech, freedom of information, and technological advancement.. Some vloggers focus on the detriment to YouTube, which will be “annihilated,” and video gaming specifically.

The vloggers articulate that the bill is targeted at kids who are supposedly the majority of YouTube users. In contrast, the lawmakers proposing this bill are an out of touch “old generation.” The authors of this remix are thus arguing and motivating a young audience of YouTube users, rather than the lawmakers themselves. There is also an argument here that this is part of a bigger effort to control and constrict young people. The remix ends with a call to action by showing a progression of clips asking viewers to sign a petition against the bill and/or contract their congresspeople directly and to spread the word to friends.

The genre of the remix strikes me as particularly useful in employing multimodal elements to enhance the argument; specifically, using YouTube videos to fight for the rights of YouTube users is an implicit argument about the utility and importance of the freedom of expression that YouTube facilitates. Using videos this way, especially to the extent that any are copyrighted, is also a form of resistance against the bill.

There are limitations of this genre, of course. I found the beginning of the video confusing without a frame or audio overlay introducing the piece. Another limitation of only using clips is that the composers are limited to the information contained in the clips. Thus, I actually found more details about the bill and varied opinions on how dire the bill would be from a simple web search. Adding original content, such as original audio or screen shots or the details of the bill, would have enhanced this message, but may have been outside the scope of the project.

Overall, the video is successful in creating awareness and encouraging action about this bill. I immediately wanted to know more about the bill and found out that not much has happened with it since it was introduced in 2011, perhaps because of the wide outcry from the online community. I hope that in addition to JUMP, this video also ends up on YouTube so that it can contribute to the discussion happening there on this important topic.