Saturday, February 12, 2005

So you want to be a filmmaker?

What do documentary filmmakers do when their film contains music, TV, or other copyrighted material in the background? They have to license it from the copyright owner --or risk litigation. Both alternatives are prohibitively costly, and it's crippling the art of documentary filmmaking.

Here's a link to "Untold Stories: Creative Consequences of the Rights Clearance Culture for Documentary Filmmakers," a report from the Center for Social Media on how our ever-expanding "culture of ownership" is making it more and more difficult to get documentaries distributed. It's worth reading--and even if you don't have time for that, the short movie that summarizes the issues in the report is worth watching.


Anonymous Tater said...

Forget Distribution. How about Creation? Don't make a documentary in Los Angeles. Not because there's really nothing to keep track of here, but every city agency, landlord, and 99 cent shit shop will expect a piece of your pie.

Answer? Make sure you have an inordinately sized pie.

11:31 AM  
Blogger great sandwich! said...

I think one of the filmmakers in the movie commented on how it was only safe to make movies about your grandma, and you could only interview her in her bedroom.

11:54 AM  
Blogger National Institutes of Mother Humping said...

Documentaries should have similar freedoms to what "the press" enjoys.

7:33 AM  
Blogger National Institutes of Mother Humping said...

Should documentarians enjoy similar rights to those that 'the press' enjoys?

7:34 AM  
Blogger great sandwich! said...

The 'press' relies on the fair use doctrine just like everyone else. The only difference is that it is well established that journalism constitutes fair use, while that hasn't traditionally been the case with documentarians. Arguably, many documentarians are engaging in fair use, and would be protected. The problem is, fair use is an affirmative defense. This means they have to get sued, hire a lawyer, and pray that the court will see things their way. Most filmmakers would rather just pony up a licensing fee than risk it.

5:58 PM  

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