Multimedia project launches video editor that educates on fair use rules

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November 5, 2013 by Emily Long

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Knight Foundation supports The Learning About Multimedia Project (LAMP) to build an online video editor for use in media criticism and education. Below, Emily Long, director of communications and development for The LAMP, writes about the recent launch of the Media Breaker. Photo credit: The LAMP/Alan Berry.

In my six years of working with The LAMP, a nonprofit education organization based in New York, we have accomplished a great deal.

We’ve grown from an all-volunteer team to a staff of three paid, full-time positions, from serving 75 students a year to serving just over 900, and from working at our kitchen tables to working in offices off Bryant Park. But building the Media Breaker, a free online video editor designed for remixing copyrighted content in an educational setting, has been our most ambitious project yet. I’m proud to say we launched the Media Breaker on Oct. 29, and it is now live at mediabreaker.org.

This working prototype was made possible by the Knight Prototype Fund, and was developed in partnership with the Seidenberg Creative Labs at Pace University. It came about as a result of The LAMP’s work in public schools, where we discovered that teaching new literacies—including media, technology and information literacy—is often hindered by a lack of both fair use awareness and access to multimedia tools that can be learned quickly by teachers and students who are new to media-making technology. Now, with the Media Breaker, everyone can use copyrighted content, such as music videos, news clips, commercials and more, to create remixes and media “breaks” talking back to media messages.

And they can do it legally. Media Breaker is designed in such a way that all users learn about and practice fair use, which allows for the reuse of copyrighted materials in an educational setting, as long as certain guidelines are followed. The hands-on fair use learning aspects combined with a suite of other resources are part of what make Media Breaker unique. At the launch, Jill Lesser, executive director of the Center for Copyright Information, said, “As someone who is trying to figure out how educators should teach copyright and fair use, I am really intrigued by what the Media Breaker can do.”

The LAMP encountered a great deal of skepticism along the way from people who doubted that a platform like the Media Breaker could be built, and we met resistance from some people, even within the education community, about why fair use matters in their work. This lack of understanding is part of what we’re trying to change. With the Media Breaker, more people will become aware of their fair use rights and why they matter. Companies like YouTube may also have to re-examine their opacity regarding taking down videos for possible copyright infringement. As digital artist and educator Elisa Kreisinger said of the Media Breaker at the launch event, “It has the potential to form a critical mass of transformative educational content being uploaded, and probably… highlighting the ability for the company to pick and choose who they afford fair use rights to.”

Looking ahead, The LAMP is rolling out the Media Breaker in schools in Santa Monica, Calif.; Miami, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Boston; New York programs begin this week in the Bronx. We’re also touring the Media Breaker at various conferences, and planning a Super Bowl party in New York where teens will get together and break commercials airing on game day. As LAMP Executive Director D.C. Vito said, “It is our intent to help create 10,000 Jon Stewarts—engaged, excited and activated users breaking the media and changing the message.”

The LAMP is on Twitter @thelampnyc and so is the Media Breaker @TheMediaBreaker.

LAMPlatoon Critique: Men and Trucks, via YouTube

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