[rebecca] BLACK FRIDAY: Copyright Infringements and Intertextuality

In 1976, Walt Disney Productions sued Sony Corporation for its sale of the VCR on grounds that the VCR recording function allows unlimited recording of programs – including those by Disney – that are unconsented by Disney, and hence constituted copyright infringement

Girl watching the Pink Panthe - Mail Online, 2007

(Fisher, 1988). Two contradicting judgments arose. Justice Stevens ruled in favour of Sony on grounds that such VCR recordings by audiences who cannot view it during broadcast do not constitute any purpose for profit making, and are hence deemed as “fair use” (p. 1664). Contrastingly, Justice Blackmuns argues that audiences who cannot view Disney programs during broadcast times constitute a “potential market”, of which Sony VCR’s recording functions deprive Disney of it (p. 1665).

The fair use clause, which consents reproduction of intangible productions as long as it is not purposed for profit or deprives the owner of profit, purposes to achieve the “advancement of knowledge” (Phan, 1998, p. 171). It is incessantly cited in defence of plagiarism (Vudrag, 2011). Based on the nature of justice, the need for copyright lies in the rationale that man deserves the fruit of his labour (Bruncken, 1916). Reproduction of one’s creative work that will deprive one the due incentives violates copyright. The unconstrained mode of communication empowered by the Internet has enabled unlimited distribution of intangible properties (Phan, 1998). The primary predicament in enforcing copyright online is the vast number in which reproductions occur. The increased modes of communication also exacerbated the definition of the form of reproductions that constitute copyright infringement.

If I transduce Rebecca Black’s Friday Youtube video recording into a superhero comic, will I be liable of copyright infringement? In my defense, intertextuality contends that all ideas arise from a single network (Porter, 1986). Authors of creative productions merely sew ideas together into communicable and tangible forms. However, this is an utopian argument as it would devoid copyright of its 

foundations to protect the right of the copyright holder. It might even demoralize creative efforts, and hence the very purpose of copyright to advance knowledge (Phan, 1998, p. 171). As such, we should employ deontology in the use of information and creative productions. As the protection of copyright relies on our abstaining from violating it (Fisher, 1988), as long as our duty to not violate it is upheld relative to us, assessing whether consequences consequential of intertextuality arose at the monetary expense of the copyright holder should be the toil of copyright lawyers.



1) Bruncken, E., 1916, ‘The philosophy of copyright’, The Musical Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 477 – 496, viewed 6 November 2011, < http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/737903.pdf?acceptTC=true>

2) Fisher, W. W. III, 1988, ‘Reconstructing the fair use doctrine’, Harvard Law Review, vol. 101, no. 8, pp. 1659 – 1795, viewed 8 November 2011,   <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/1341435.pdf>

3) Phan, D. T., 1998, ‘Will fair use function on the Internet?’ Columbia Law Review, vol. 98, no. 1, pp. 169 – 216, viewed 5 November 2011, < http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/1123397.pdf?acceptTC=true>

4) Porter, J. E., 1986, ‘Intertextuality and the discourse community’, Rhetoric Review, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 34 – 47, viewed 4 September 2011, <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.taylors.edu.my/stable/pdfplus/466015.pdf?acceptTC=true

5) Vudrag, P. 2011, ‘Fair use in news and reviews’, GPSolo, vol. 28, no. 6, pp. 30 – 31, viewed 12 November 2011, < http://proquest.umi.com.ezlibproxy.unisa.edu.au>


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