More Python, Fair Use, and Attribution

So I had my iTunes open and on shuffle yesterday when Monty Python’s “Finland” came on. That was what prompted me to check YouTube for Python offerings. Now the Python chaps have offered their own channel. This video has the usual Python cheek as they talk about YouTube, being ripped off, and the open plea that viewers buy the products after they enjoy them. The clip also touts the troop’s interest in showing the clips as they wanted them to be shown and in high quality.

Fun stuff but here is the problem. The Monty Python Channel has nowhere near the quantity of Python material one can find elsewhere on YouTube. I wonder whether the Python folks chose to leave the other posters alone and offer what they see as the best or most in demand clips in a branded area. Then again, they may have decided to go after the other posters too. And to think this train of thought all started in Finland. Finland? Yes, because I could take a CD, put into MP3 format, and listen to “Finland” as a shuffle tune. But wait. There’s more! The devil you say. No, really.

Check out the clip for Finland below. It is a good quality stream of the music. It is funny and adds a fair amount of creativity. It attributes the visual work and the software to make the work. It also acknowledges Python as the source of the music. In addition, it has embedded ads to allow a viewer to buy the song from iTunes or Amazon. Now given all the new works, Python’s failure to offer a similar video (even if they did the video is a new work albeit one needing the song to make much sense), AND the ads is it fair use? After all YouTube and the poster probably take a cut, as would the seller, but as the Python folks acknowledge they too are giving access to and enjoyment of their clips away for free with the plea that people buy their work. As my essay Individual Branding: How the Rise of Individual Creation and Distribution of Cultural Products Confuses the Intellectual Property System argues these facts present confusing situations for intellectual property. Sharing, attribution, some control, encouraging purchases, remixing, and more can all be seen in my encounter with Finland which may be my new personal metaphor for IP. Watch the video and tell me what you think, fair use, attribution, new work, infringement, all of the above?

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