To be honest, when I saw the assignment titled “Hastune Miku Paradox” posted with our COMM 881 (Digital Narratives and Storytelling) items on the Adobe website, I was completely unsure who “she” was or the paradox surrounding “her”.  So being the dedicated graduate student I am, I googled Hatsune Miku and proceeded to read the Wikipedia article (the site we tell our students not to use) about her.  I figured this would allow me to gain a general background of Miku, allowing me to springboard from who “she” was and “her” background. Although I still did not totally understand the assignment at that point, or how I might discuss the paradox surrounding “her”.

Luckily, Dr. Partridge was kind enough to take a few minutes during our September 10th class to discuss Miku in more detail and the phenomena surrounding “her”.  From my quick observations during the sample video of Hatsune Miku during our class I realized quickly after seeing a “live concert”, technology is allowing communications and media to evolve very quickly and creating possibilities of creativity that were non-existent only a few years ago.  The fact that a synthesized character sings using a voice and was created from the spoken (not sung) words of a young Japanese actress and is singing in front of thousands of fans in a holograph form is quite a change from the original Japanese anime characters .  The voice of Hatsune is created by using a Yahama synthesizer and a software program entitled Vocaloid 2.   Miku’s female persona was developed by another company, Crypton Future Media.   The actual look and anime of Miku was created by a Japanese artist.   So the character that is portrayed in videos, concerts, and other media is a merged creation from several sources.  This particular use of shared authorship is an example of changes to the landscape of communications and media.

Other issues with communication and media are today’s generation of young people who have a very short attention span and are constantly submerged with audio, media, and technology.  They have an expectation that they should be able to sample products, music, and media before these choose what they would like to obtain.  Many times students do not even necessarily purchase items such as music, rather they find a song on Youtube.com and then use a website such as mediaconverter.org and quickly download the lyrics and music from the video into an mp3 file that they can put on their phone, ipod, or other device.  The youth of today do not comprehend copyrights or fair use policies.  Following restrictions and abiding by exclusive rights policies are matters that adolescents in general take seriously

This younger generation has been the source of fan base for Miku.  They watch videos of her online, buy the software with her voice making capabilities, buy products endorsed by her name, and attend Miku concerts. The imaginary chararacter of Hatsune Miku is brought to life in concerts and on videos through the use of holographic technologies.  The anime-like songs that are created with Vocaloid 2, a voice generating software inspire Miku’s fans.    Many fans even develop images, stories, and videos using “her” voice as an inspiration (Condry, 2009).  However, the innovative creation of Hatsune Miku has also created issues with communications and media and the expectations of the public and viewers.

Miku’s creation brings up numerous issues in regard to fair use and copyrights.  According to the website copyright.gov, a copyright “secures limited times to authors and inventors and the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries”.  As a general rule copyrights for individuals after 1978, last for the life of the author plus seventy years.  Fair use is a limited exception to the copyright law and the author of the work.  Fair use permits a limited use of copyrighted material without obtaining permission from the rights holders.  According to Mazzone (2009), “fair use is not meant to be something that is sold and bought like other market goods. Fair use is free use. Nobody is meant to be paying for the privilege of using a copyrighted work in a manner that the law deems not to infringe the copyright in the work. Moreover, the fair use market is not a fair market.”

 

Hatsune Miku is a creation that has shared authorship from many individuals and corporations.  Miku’s voice was created in 2007 by using vocal samples with a controlled voice and pitch from a Japanese actress and then merging the samples and using a synthesizer from Yamaha to create the “voice”. The software is used to create Miku’s voice is from Crypton Future Media.  The current software that creates the Hatsune Miku voice is Vocaloid 2, which is marketed by another company.  Finally, her image, it was created by a mange artist and his only guidelines were to make her color scheme similar to the cyan color of the Yamaha synthesizer.  Without any of these individuals or companies the idea of Hatsune Miku would not have been successfully created.  So, then who has “ownership” of the design of Miku?

 

To complication things even further, Miku became extremely popular in Japanese culture.  The design has appeared in commercials for cars, such as Toyota.  Even had rockets launched in the honor of Miku.  Concerts with holographic images and thousands of fans have occurred in recent times.  Youtube is full of videos that portray Miku as a pop sensation.  Many of the videos and links are not originals from Crypton Future Media, Yamaha, or the artist, rather they are made by average citizens who have bought Vocaloid software and have creative talents.  With the shared authorship of Hatsune Miku and the strong following of her persona, the waters have become quite muddied on what is copyright, fair use, or any of the above.  Instead, her creation has complicated the process of fair use and copyright even more than it already was with new obstacles with shared authorship and innovative technologies.

 

Condry, I. (2009) Anime Creativity: Characters and Premises in the Quest for Cool Japan. Theory Culture Society. Sage Publications. 26: 139-163.

Mazzone, J.  (2009). Administering Fair Use. William & Mary Law Review. 51:2, 395-437

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