Copyrights issues in Vietnam: How online user-generated content may affect creativity

In this thriving digital age, you can almost get anything you want online for free like music, pictures and videos and make use of them to enhance the creativity like doing remixes, mashups and so on. These were definitely made by others who don’t always get the credits which may seem unfair. Therefore, the needs for clear copyright and authorship laws are increasing as every artist, popular or amateur, should be respected and paid for their own creative works. In this blog post I will discuss the user-generated content and copyright issues within Vietnam as an Asian country in comparison to the Western.

In his speech on TED, Clay Shirky claims that we used to use media products created only by professionals. However, with the emergence and development of Web 2.0 which enabled interactive exchange of information and knowledge between every Internet user, from media consumers we have now become “prosumers” or “produsers”, which means we no longer only consume the media but also produce it through media vehicles such as Wikipedia, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Shirky also says that we are now closely connected with each other; each of us can contribute to others’ works through comments, reviews, blog posts and more. That is the definition of user-generated content (UGC).

Since nowadays the public, especially in Vietnam, can get free access to any media product usually through UGC, share and download it for free, the boundary between copyrighted and credited works is still very blurred. Although there are organizations like Creative Commons (CC) that work to help enhance creativity and allow legal use of reproducing, remixing, and adapting others’ creative works for free; many Vietnamese websites like Zing, HDViet, Nhaccuatui and so on still spread out books, music, movies and videos for free even when no confirm of permission from the author is found. Consequently, many take it for granted and use them to create new pieces of arts by doing remixes, mashups and ideas adaptations.

For example, in 2013, a very popular vlogger in Vietnam called JVevermind  or JV released his 47th video titled Nhung Dieu Con Gai Muon. It caught a lot of attention from young Vietnamese subscribers as usual, discussing on what girls really want. Then a person found out that a year before that, another vlogger whose YouTube account named ThisIsACommentary also posted a video called Five Things Women Like that seems to have the same ideas and content with JV’s. Obviously, this made the Internet crowd go nuts, considering JV had stolen the ideas that were already made by others. In his defense, some fans proved that JV did contribute to the credit by saying in his video’s description: “This video is based on…” attached with the URL to ThisIsACommentary’s, but many still argued that JV just put it in after the discovery. JV didn’t speak directly about this but it seems that he also had concerns on the topic as well. In his next video about Tabloids and Related Issues, he mentioned how many journalists nowadays just write about annoying rubbish stuff that affects people’s perception on the world.

JV's credit to the author

JV’s credit to the author

JV is just one of the examples which show that we should be more aware of copyrights and respect artists’ creative works by saying no to online piracy; paying for your favorite albums or arts on iTunes, Amazon and more. But that is just about saying as there is a downside of this issue. Not all people can afford for those things. Jay Z, a famous American rapper, teaming up with many other popular artists like Beyoncé, Madonna, Chris Martin, Kanye West…, just launched an online music service called TIDAL this year which offers lossless quality of music and videos. Jay Z hopes that this will encourage the creativity and guarantee artists’ rights for their contribution.

However, this website has been predicted by plenty to be ended soon as you have to pay for everything you do. If you want to just listen to some music, you have to subscribe and pay $9.99 per month to get access to 320kbps. For lossless and high fidelity ones, you have to pay $19.99 per month. Now that’s way too much to spend in comparison to other services. Like on iTunes, you can still listen half of the single or album for free then decide whether to buy it or not. Yet with such huge support from many artists, TIDAL raises a question whether in the near future will we have to pay for the albums without having a sampling to listen.

Jay Z's TIDAL website

Jay Z’s TIDAL website

To sum up, copyrights and online UGC in Vietnam are one of major cyber issues. That how to make sure of artists get what they deserve for their creative works is still under the question.


References:

Bruns, A 2007 ‘The Future Is User-Led: The Path towards Widespread Produsage’, Paper presented at PerthDAC 2007 conference, Perth, 16 October.

Creative Commons n.d., ‘Creative Commons – About’, viewed 9 April 2015, <http://creativecommons.org/about>

Jamie 2013, ‘Nghi án Vlog mới của JVevermind “đạo” 90% ý tưởng từ Vlog nước ngoài’, 9 September, Kenh14.vn, viewed 9 April 2015, <http://kenh14.vn/doi-song/nghi-an-jvevermind-dao-90-y-tuong-tu-vlog-nuoc-ngoai-20130909012332612.chn>

MTV Vietnam, ‘Jay-Z mở dịch vụ âm nhạc: Lấy của người nghèo chia cho người giàu’, MTV, viewed 9 April 2015, <http://www.mtvvietnam.com.vn/news/news.php?newsid=1563>

Shirky, C 2009, ‘How social media can change history’, video, June, TED.com, viewed 9 April 2015, http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cellphones_twitter_facebook_can_make_history

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