referees: (saso 2016)
SASO Referees ([personal profile] referees) wrote in [community profile] sportsanime 2016-09-01 01:24 am (UTC)

Re: Clarification on Popular Media

Hi team furusawa, thanks for your patience while we discussed and formulated our response to you. You brought up many points for us to take into consideration, so we’ll try to answer all of them to the best of our ability.

First, we'd like to clarify why cosplay is excepted from our "completely new work" rule. It’s not because cosplay is more difficult or requires more effort to make than any other form of art—it’s because applying the same rule to cosplay would be financially prohibitive to our cosplaying participants. We understand and respect that the tools needed to create a good audio track can get expensive, the same way that the tools needed to create a good painting, a good video, or a good photograph can get expensive. But with cosplay, it’s not just the tools (e.g., a sewing machine) that are expensive, but also the very materials of the costumes (e.g., cloth, wigs—what would be analogous to a writer's words, or a singer's voice) are expensive. We believe that if our cosplayers had to put in the financial commitment to remake a costume they already had several pieces for, then no one could cosplay. We don’t want to prohibit people from cosplaying when we’re an event that encourages creativity and centers around anime. Again, it’s not about the amount of effort put in, but the amount of money.

It should be noted that we would never require any participant to own an expensive recording mic any more than we’d require them to have expensive video editing software or an expensive sewing machine. SASO is about making art with the tools you have at hand. If you want to upgrade your tools, that is a commitment you and your team decide upon.

In your comment, you compared using an existing song in an AMV to using a texture or brush preset you’ve already made. We believe you might be arguing this because you believe that both an AMV's song and a brush set exist as the “base” for a larger work, and this larger work is what gets the focus. We’d like to counter this with the following:

  1. A song is understood to be a piece of artwork in and of itself. Therefore, if you want to use it in a transformative way, you must provide credit. On the other hand, while there are artists who credit the brush presets and textures they use, it's not a universal practice precisely because these were made to be tools. Brushes/textures are primarily intended to be used when making other art; songs are not.

  2. It's possible for the song in an AMV to be just as central to the piece as the video editing. You noted that the audio you wanted to use would be just as unoriginal as the audio every other AMV maker in the competition this year used, so it doesn’t give you a head start. You’re right, when looking at this year. But we’ve had teams create new audio and songs for a round before. The option to create original audio for a video entry does exist, and in such a case the audio would be as important as the video. (We touch upon this more in a minute.)

    We understand that making audio from scratch and having to edit video clips is a lot of work. If it's important to your entry that the audio be created by a member of your team, then you and your team must determine if you can handle the time commitment of making that audio within the allotted 30 days.

You brought up that under our current rules, someone else would be able to use your audio while your team wouldn’t be able to. We agree with you that this seems unfair. Our current rules are that if you were a very famous and popular artist, usage of your music in transformative work would be fair game, but if you’re a small-time artist with not a lot of visibility, no one would be allowed to use your work. The problem is that Vocaloid covers are a gray-area in this respect, as there are Vocaloid covers made by singers who are by all means amateur, small-time artists, but who (because of the nature of Vocaloid fandom) have a huge following and therefore huge visibility. (This logic is why we allowed the usage of a vocaloid cover in your MR1 entry.) We are seeking ways to close the gap in this edge case that you’ve brought up to us. One possible solution is to henceforth ban the use of all covers unless they are created by extremely popular and visible recording artists—but we understand this approach also has limitations and gray-areas, so we will continue to discuss this matter. Thank you for bringing this to light so we can make the rules more clear and more fair.

We’d also like to address the argument that we encourage people to infringe on copyright laws or use work without permission instead of using work they have permission to use. AMVs are fair usage of pre-existing audio, and we operate with this understanding when allowing AMV makers to use it. Also, without this audio, AMV makers on teams who don't have any audio-specialist teammates would be in trouble—imagine how difficult it would’ve been to create your excellent MR1 entry if you hadn’t been able to use existing audio!

But with this usage also comes the obligation to credit the original artist, and this is where we come to another key point on why we don’t allow participants to use work they’ve already made: if you or anyone on your team can take credit for it, then the craftsmanship of it can be taken into consideration when judging your entry, and so it must be made within the 30 days provided. If none of you can take credit for making it, then you must credit the original creator. If we as an audience know (due to the existence of an artist credit) that a certain song wasn’t made by your team, then we won’t factor it into how we view the craftsmanship of your piece. If, however, we know that the audio was made by a member of your team, then viewers will factor the audio itself into our consideration of your craftsmanship and the work you put into your entry. If that audio was made outside of the 30-day creation period, it means you had "extra time" that other teams didn't have to create something used in your main round entry, which means that the existence of work one of you has created gives you an advantage. This is what we mean when we speak of the advantage of using pre-existing work created by a participant, and this is why we ask that all the work you can claim credit for be made 100% new for SASO.

There's also a collision with the anonymity policy, where "sources outside your team" must be credited to the original artist, so viewers know not to count it in the round. But if you claim credit, it breaks anonymity because the original creator is on the team.

You might also think that "Oh, well we can just ask people not to count the audio when judging the entry, even though we made it," but that's just...not realistic. Someone on your team made it; people will consider it when judging your entry.

Finally, we would like to stress that we did not change the rules partway through the event—we understand why you might feel this was the case, and we're sorry for the frustration you might experience with how we handled your inquiry. But the rule about not using older work made by any teammate has been in our rules since the beginning of SASO, as can be seen here, specifically: “not older work they have lying around, that's not okay!” As we stated in our initial conversation with you, it had never occurred to us that people would want to use things that weren't fanwork, which is why the rules' current wording is more specific. Also in our previous conversation, we stated that we wanted to clarify the rules to make all of this more clear, and prevent the confusion your team experienced this year.

Put simply, all older work made by a teammate is prohibited from use. Media created outside of your team may only be used if it's from an open/creative-commons-style source, your fandom's canon, or a very famous source that's easily identifiable as not a teammate. All external media must be clearly credited. Media created by other amateur artists is, on the whole, not accepted (though we need to clarify this more for next year because of the difficulties of your specific case), which would exclude competitors from using work created by people on other teams.

However, if you feel that audio as a medium is so much more difficult than other types of work that it cannot be made in a thirty-day period, and therefore holding it to the made-new-in-30-days limit is unfair, we definitely want to know about that. We want audio-creators to be able to compete fairly in the event too.

We hope that this addresses all the concerns your team may have had around this matter. We sincerely apologize if we gave off the impression that we didn’t value the work of singers, musicians, mixing and mastering engineers, or anyone else involved in the process of making creative audio content. We also thank you for your feedback, as it prompted a discussion that will help us improve how we judge entries that feature audio. Please let us know if there's anything else we can clarify, explain or discuss.

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