Now that YouTube has revealed that curation is core to their strategy of contextualizing video content, and curators will be paid, leaders in the Fair Use and Remix community are taking notice. (YouTube Reveals a Curated Future.)
Pat Aufderheide is recognized as one of the countries leading experts and a passionate
advocate in the field. She heads the Fair Use and Free Speech research project at the Center for Social Media at the School of Communications at American University. She has been a Fulbright and John Simon Guggenheim fellow and has served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival, among others.
For Aufderheide, curators deserve this new-found place in the content ecosystem.
"I think curators are in the same class of creative actors as editors and museum/gallery curators. They know a field of production, they exercise standards, they use that knowledge and judgment to showcase work in new contexts that add meaning" she says.
Her book, co-authored with Peter Jaszi, Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright is a powerful voice for advocacy:
I think all culture always has been a remix culture. The illusion that creators are wholly original in their creations is just that, an illusion. I believe that curators create new material -- the collection that they create by selection. This is the most participatory and productive era of cultural expression in the history of the world.
So, how does YouTube's decision to being to compensate curators impact her world of remixed and re-imagined video? "It is encouraging to see signs of monetizing the work of curation," says Aufderheide:
Monetization will reward higher levels of effort in curation and articulation of editorial standards. I do not mean that this field of activity needs policing; I mean that there is a very loose notion at the moment of what is involved, and as the activity is elaborated, ways of valuing it will emerge; monetization will be a useful spur.
So, just how important is it that share, remixing, and new works emerge from existing media? "The emergent economy has shareability built into it. At the same time this is and has been a bedeviling moment to be an incumbent media company, especially with bricks/mortar issues -- towers, antennas, printing presses, etc." But, the challenges to existing business models not withstanding, Aufderheide says we're at an exciting and critical crossroads. "Limiting that shareability means crippling one's participation in [the new] economy."
Of course, it's early days. And while YouTube's decision is an important step forward, no doubt the balance between sharing and protecting content will raise complex new issues.
"As monetization of spreadable culture grows, more and more people will become actively interested in their own monopoly rights under copyright, at the same time that they will need their fair use rights to create work. So creators need to know both sides of the copyright balance, because most of us want and need both sides of it," says Aufderheide.