Ridolfo, Jim and Martine Courant Rife. “Rhetorical Velocity and Copyright: A Case Study on the Strategies of Rhetorical Delivery” in Copy(write): IP in the Writing Classroom. Eds. Rife, Martine, Danielle Nicole DeVoss, and Shaun Slattery. 2011.
- In this article R/R consider a student photo taken in 2005 that was later remixed and reused by her university in 2006,7,8,&9 in order to consider questions about rhetorical delivery, rhetorical velocity, and IP/copyright. The article trajectory: 1) Overview of rhetorical velocity and remix; 2) Overview of student case; 3) intersections between copyright, rhetorical velocity, and “The Commons”; 4) A consideration of free speech, privacy, orphan works, rights of publicity, and section 107 (fair use clause); 5) a discussion of how composing for recomposition (rhetorical velocity) relates to the Commons and also pedagogical considerations (1).
- In Maggie’s case the student was involved in a protest against sweatshop labor. The protest was designed to be an “image event” (DeLuca) – so a lot of images were created of the event. Years later Maggie’s picture from the protest was repurposed by the university without her permission. This raises some interesting questions about the limits and protections against and for recomposition of public images or images depicting public events. This was a challenge to her activist ethos for obvious reasons (drinking the university’s kool-aid).
- Rhetorical velocity – how particular rhetorical artifacts pick up meaning and shed meaning (via various recomposition technologies) as they are circulated across networks and circuits of electronic delivery. Rhetorical velocity is also a “strategic concept of delivery” wherein the initiator of the rhetorical artifact “theorizes the possibilities” of recomposition – and in so doing reconsiders the rhetorical efficacy of their initial rhetorical artifact. This piece is concerned with the IP/copyright implications of rhetorical velocity. Ridolfo and DeVoss’s definition: “the strategic theorizing for how a text might be recomposed (and why it might be recomposed) by third parties, and how this recomposing may be useful or not to the short- or long-term rhetorical objectives of the rhetorician” (velocity.html).
- R/R draw on Latour/Law for a notion of “radical symmetry” to describe how objects – whether intensely felt or viewed from afar – in effect, R/R see both Maggie’s body as image on the same level of interobjectivity as the bones of a long dead aboriginal native (why this section?).
- Orphan works are something akin to a rhetorical artifact whose velocity is no longer controllable – the accelerator peddle is pinned down and the rhetorical brakes have failed. How an orphaned work becomes appropriated in the future is a crapshoot.
- Maggie’s image was not subject to publicity rights because she wasn’t making money off of her image in the public realm; therefore, her image wasn’t defaced (however, her ethos as an activist was certainly diminished as a result of the picture).
- “Cultural properties are not exhaustible and, in fact, depend upon appropriation in order to survive (15, Lessig).
- Lockean understanding of private property as valorized in US law (labour-mixing): “This raises the question of commonality generally, and proposes that cultural property analysis, like IP analysis, occurs on a field of endlessly shifting and reforming ‘commons’” (15-16). So, when deciding on whether appropriation was ok, one must consider that decision a “context-specific, norm, driven, value judgment” (15).
- The danger of the commons: the Benthamite, utilitarian argument about “for the common good” can often deprive one of their own creations (think the British Museum taking Egyptian relics from the 3rd Kingdom in the argument of supporting common access to cultural artifacts).