Sita Sings the Blues... Available For Free Download

from the a-step-forward dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about the rather ridiculous situation that filmmaker Nina Paley was put in, where copyright on some songs she used in a movie she made herself was being used to kill the film. It made no sense, no matter how you looked at it. The songs were all from the 1920s, and getting them new attention could only serve to renew interest in the music, likely creating new opportunities for the copyright holders to profit. Yet... they didn't care. They were demanding thousands and thousands of dollars for the use. After folks like Roger Ebert picked up the cause, the copyright holders finally lowered their demands to a mere $50,000 -- but included numerous additional fees should she ever make a dime off the movie. Thus, she's realized that she cannot make any money from the movie and is instead giving it away for free under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license.

Still, now that the agreements are signed -- even though she doesn't have all the funds to pay the fees yet (she's still raising money) -- she is apparently able to release the movie with just the agreements. Rich now alerts us that, despite the restrictions on some of the music, Nina has put up a full website for the movie which links to an Internet Archive page where you can stream it or download it in a variety of formats. And, of course, she's set it up to be downloaded via BitTorrent, as well. I'm downloading a copy now, and hope to watch it this weekend while flying to Scotland.


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    Anonymous Poster, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 9:24pm

    Music licensing agreements are a tool of the Devil.

     

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    Jesse, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 10:27pm

    She could have canned the project and "leaked" it to Pirate Bay:)

     

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    Scott Crawford (profile), Mar 7th, 2009 @ 3:08am

    And after watching it...

    ...I think it's an absolute travesty that the rightsholders gave Nina the hard time that they did. The movie is downright stunning, an instant classic, and the attention it will bring to the music she uses in it will really be staggering once it gains some more steam in the mainstream media (and it will).

    Thanks, Techdirt folks, for letting us know that "Sita" came out (I read the last story you did on it), as I feel like this story kinda got lost this week in all the "Watchmen" hype (another movie where rights issues caused a big ol' mess before release). And to the rest of you, head over to the "Sita" site and see this great film.

     

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    Pope Ratzo, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 5:08am

    steal ALL music

    How long IS a copyright on music these days? One of the songs in this movie was written in '29 I think.

    Does a copyright EVER run out or are they eternal now, like the Roman Empire?

     

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    Weird Harold, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 5:31am

    I am trying to figure this out:

    "Thus, she's realized that she cannot make any money from the movie and is instead giving it away for free under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license. "

    If this is such a great movie, would the public not be clambering to see it? Could she not pre-sell 100,000 copies of it by word of mouth on the net and pay the fees as a result?

    Mike? How does this work with your new world order of things?

     

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      PaulT (profile), Mar 7th, 2009 @ 6:05am

      Re:

      Try reading again...

      The copyright deal is $50,000 upfront, *then* a large cut of her revenue if and when she starts to make any money. These fees would probably take most of her profits away from her.

      If she managed to sell 100,000 copies, the music copyright owners would demand 100,000 x whatever the fees are. She would never see the vast majority of any profits the movie makes.

      Since Ms. Paley is an actual artist and not a profiteer like the music copyright holders (who had nothing to do with the actual creation of that music), she's better off giving the movie away rather than working her ass off selling it and never seeing the profits.

       

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        Pants, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 6:39am

        Re: Re:

        "Try reading again..."

        You expect Weird Harold to actually read and undertand before posting?

         

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        Weird Harold, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 8:45am

        Re: Re:

        You miss the point, this all gets entirely to Mike's whole thing about tossing the music and the film industry under the bus so that the people can pick what is good and what is not. If this movie is as good as claimed (and no reason not to beleive so) then would the public not be willing to pay something for it?

        $50,000 in the scheme of things is a paltry number, and the licence per copy after that likely wouldn't be killer. For 100,000 copies, assuming that the 50k is spread over them all and the licensing is another even $5 a copy, example, then you are looking at $5.50 per copy in licensing. Sell the movies for $10 (still a low price) and the artist makes money to pay for her next work and everyone gets to enjoy a nice movie.

        The suggestion here is that at ANY volume, the licensing fees would make it impossible. That isn't the case. The true case is that there isn't enough true public demand (with cash in hand) to make it worth doing.

        Would you consider it any better if someone took this movie, changed the music for their own, and then sold it for $10 a copy without paying Nina Paley anything? It works both ways in the end.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 11:07am

          Re: Re: Re:Weird Harold

          I think it is you who have missed the point Harold.
          Do you think that copyright should be forever?

           

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          PaulT (profile), Mar 7th, 2009 @ 1:22pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, sorry you seem to be missing the point.

          Ms. Paley is an artist who simply wants to get her work seen by as many people as possible, as most artists do. If it were possible to do that and make a pile of cash in the process, then that's fine. However, it's unlikely that she would make money unless an incredible amount of money is spent marketing the movie.

          "100,000 copies, assuming that the 50k is spread over them all and the licensing is another even $5 a copy, example, then you are looking at $5.50 per copy in licensing"

          That's $5.50 per copy to the licence holders. According to Wikipedia, the budget for making the movie was $290,000, so she'd be paying nearly double in licences than the thing cost to make in the first place.

          "The suggestion here is that at ANY volume, the licensing fees would make it impossible."

          Not ANY volume, but the numbers would have to be ridiculous for this kind of project. Think about it, in the opinion of most people (and the original scope of copyright before it got amended so Disney could keep on to Mickey Mouse) the music she used should have been in the public domain. In other words, she's having an extra $5.50 of her NET profits being taken away from her with each sale in the above scenario.

          You don't see how $5.50 being taken from profits in a market where the product is usually sold for less than $20 would make things extremely difficult? Maybe even impossible? That's not even taking into the account that the way this thing sounds, the fees would go UP the more she sold...

          "The true case is that there isn't enough true public demand (with cash in hand) to make it worth doing."

          Ah, so it's not YOUR kind of movie, and it's not mainstream so it can't do well?

          There's a resurgence in adult (i.e. non-Disney-style) animation in recent years. This year's Best Foreign Language Picture Oscar went to Waltz With Bashir, an animated documentary. The 2007 Cannes Jury Prize went to Persepolis, which went on to make nearly $20 million theatrically worldwide.

          This means there's a growing market for unusual, emotionally affecting, non-Western styled animation. This movie fits into that category. You're not going to see Sita Sings The Blues outselling Wall-E at any point in the future, but does that mean nobody would see it? Hardly.

          "Would you consider it any better if someone took this movie, changed the music for their own, and then sold it for $10 a copy without paying Nina Paley anything?"

          If Nina Paley had been dead for 20 years, like Annette Hanshaw (whose music she used), I'd say it would be a great experiment and tribute, like those goth bands who keep rescoring the original Nosferatu. It's not acceptable while she's still trying to recoup the costs of making the original.

          It's not really too hard to understand. The original purpose of copyright is to give a limited monopoly to an artist so that they can create more works and thus benefit society as a whole. In this case, a corporation who had nothing to do with creating any of the original art is profiting from the use of music that should already have been in the public domain for many years. In doing so, they're financially crippling a currently working artist and probably putting her off attempting any further works of art (or removing her financial ability to do so). The exact opposite of what copyright is intended for.

           

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            PaulT (profile), Mar 7th, 2009 @ 1:31pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Hmmm... OK I could have sworn that Waltz With Bashir won the Oscar this year, but apparently it won the Golden Globe, not the Oscar. I correct myself, but stand by my original points.

             

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            Weird Harold, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 4:45pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "The original purpose of copyright is to give a limited monopoly to an artist so that they can create more works and thus benefit society as a whole."

            This is where things differ. There is no requirement in the copyright rules that an artist must for any reason continue to produce more works from the original. The original is powerful enough on it's own, without anything being added to it.

            The purpose of copyright is to assure that others do not profit from your original work. Music is particularly narrow of a field, very narrowly applying to each song or song structure. There is no copyright on individual cords, nor individual words, as an example.

            In the end, Ms Paley created the work most likely with the clear knowledge that she had not obtained rights to the music. Had she started out by looking into obtaining the rights to the songs, she likely would have gone down a different path, perhaps with original music done in that style or something similar. The error is in thinking you can use someone else's work as the basis of your own without permission. Heck, she might have found that certain rights holders on similar material that might have granted her rights for $1 up front and % on the back, example. It is much harder to negotiate when your movie is already finished and you are trying to salvage.

            For reference, you may want to look around for the story of Kevin Smith trying to get Prince to give him the rights to use a song in one of his movies. It's a funny story.

             

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              Pants, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 4:59pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "The purpose of copyright is to assure that others do not profit from your original work."

              - even after your death, and possibly forever ...

              "The error is in thinking you can use someone else's work as the basis of your own without permission."

              - Kind of difficult to obtain permission from a dead person

              "For reference, you may want to look around for the story of Kevin Smith trying to get Prince to give him the rights to use a song in one of his movies."

              - Note, Prince is not dead

               

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                Weird Harold, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 6:33pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                The rights holder isn't dead. Your points are meaningless, it takes only a little effort to find out who owns the rights to a song.

                 

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                  Pants, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 7:11pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "The rights holder isn't dead. Your points are meaningless, it takes only a little effort to find out who owns the rights to a song."

                  The point still has meaning even if it escapes you.

                   

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                    Weird Harold, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 7:14pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    You are suggesting the rights should die with the author. Nice, but that means that someone who is 90 years old would get much less potential benefit than someone who is 18. Then again, that 18 year old could get killed by a truck tomorrow and suddenly all the rights would be lost?

                    The rights for songs are the same for everyone, without discrimination for age or health. I know it doesn't suit the local agenda, but well, that's life.

                     

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                      Pants, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 7:44pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      I wonder what the intent of copyright was, back in the day ...

                       

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                      Nastygram, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 9:17pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      No, they're not the same for everyone.

                      Your strawman with regard to the age of the artist has no bearing here, because no one but you claims the rights should expire when the artist or creator dies.

                      What we have said and will continue to say without regard for your corporate masters is copyrights should be xx number of years after the first publication. The Founders of our great nation put it at fourteen, and quite frankly I see no reason to argue with them. Bring back those limits and watch respect for copyright grow and blossom beyond your wildest dreams. Continue as you and your corporate masters have been and the end result will be irrelevancy.

                      You cannot continue to take and take and take and take from the pool without replenishing it. As it now stands your corporate masters would see copyrights continued on as infinitum simply so a legal fiction can retain intellectual property which should have been returned to the public domain long ago. In the end copyrights will lose all real meaning because of the imbalance and lack of reciprocity...and people will ignore it, just as they have already begun to do...

                       

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                        Weird Harold, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 12:06am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        Bravo, you are the first person on this blog to make me LOL. Corporate Masters? Did Mike pass you the bong?

                        The founders set it at 14. They also said black men didn't have rights, and women couldn't vote. Let's just say they weren't entirely as wise as some historians would try to suggest. Heck, if they were smarter, they would have gotten that militia wording a little clearer.

                        There is no "take take take from the pool", nothing stops anyone else from creating something new and better. They just can't stand on the heads of the people who came before them and claim to be so much taller.

                         

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                          Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 12:38am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Did Mike pass you the bong?

                          You may find it shocking that most people who come here have advanced degrees and also have six-figure plus incomes. It's strange that you repeatedly seem to allude that our discourse somehow requires that of mind altering substances. Or perhaps, this is a requisite for you to comprehend our discussions.

                          A common theme here is that the Copyright & Patent systems are uniquely experiencing similar issues, and in their current state are broken.

                          Quite often we try to offer some solutions or ideas to facilitate some sort of change either to the system itself, or to the company's mode of business. Those that believe the only revenue stream that can be derived is that which comes on the back of legal action are destined to fail at one point or another-- either the system will change or the market will change.

                          Hopefully businesses with a large patent and/or copyright portfolio will act in ways which are in their best interest.

                           

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                          Pants, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 8:05am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Weird Harold -> "The founders set it at 14. They also said black men didn't have rights, and women couldn't vote"

                          What? - So now copyright is akin to human rights?
                          I dont think so.

                           

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                            Weird Harold, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 8:42am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            No, it has nothing to do with human rights, just showing that the framers got it wrong on certain issues in the US constitution, so there is no reason to think that the original copyright law was perfect either. You want to wind the clock back to that time. Well, some people would like to wind the constitutional clock back to the beginning as well, but we all know that would be foolish.

                             

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                          Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 10:46pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          The founders set it at 14. They also said black men didn't have rights, and women couldn't vote. Let's just say they weren't entirely as wise as some historians would try to suggest. Heck, if they were smarter, they would have gotten that militia wording a little clearer.

                          If they were smarter we wouldn't have copyrights or patents at all.

                           

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                      chris (profile), Mar 9th, 2009 @ 2:03pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      The rights for songs are the same for everyone, without discrimination for age or health. I know it doesn't suit the local agenda, but well, that's life.

                      and what is the average life expectancy of a multinational corporation?

                       

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                  Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 12:52am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  ...it takes only a little effort to find out who owns the rights to a song.

                  That is not the problem. ASCAP/BMI have resources which make this a breeze. Then there's the rights which also need to be secured from the recording company. Unfortunately, if you are granted ASCAP/BMI clearance, but not reproduction clearance, then you are stuck unless you hire a cover band. There are too many moving parts to the entire process, and sometimes it can take weeks before a full clearance can be granted. You pretty much have to walk through the entire process just to get a quoted royalty rate.

                  Obviously you've never been on the receiving side of performing due diligence for all licensing clearances before...

                   

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                    Weird Harold, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 8:40am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Actually, I have seen the process in action, having worked on some smaller independent movies in the past. The problem isn't the "moving parts" (which is a great term to slag the process) but rather people not taking a little time to understand the process.

                    It is very easy to get the rights to music, example to do a play or stage performance. It's just about automatic. However, to get the re-use writes for a performers rendition of a song is a secondary and much more expensive issue. Now you are dealing with the artist's management or rights holder, and potentially the record company that owners the music rights at that current time.

                    This filmmaker ran into a third issue (but dealing with the same groups of people) which is the synchronization rights, basically the right to make it appear that another performer (or cartoon) is performing the material. That is treated as a seperate manner. From my understanding, until she sync'ed the music to the performers, the licensing would have been easy and relatively inexpensive.

                    Basically, she made the very fatal mistake of not getting a lawyer and getting an understanding of the playing field before she spent time, effort, and money to make her movie without any of the rights. She is frustrated because she thought she could use older music without any restrictions, and that just isn't the case. This one isn't the music industry's problem, it's the problem of someone with unrealistic expectations and poor planning being a victim of their own ignornace.

                    Mike will jump up and down and use this as an example of how copyright on music is so bad, but really, it's just ignorance by the film maker that caused the issue.

                     

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                      Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      This filmmaker ran into a third issue (but dealing with the same groups of people) which is the synchronization rights, basically the right to make it appear that another performer (or cartoon) is performing the material. That is treated as a seperate manner. From my understanding, until she sync'ed the music to the performers, the licensing would have been easy and relatively inexpensive.

                      So here you have Nina, who wants to be legitimate, but the Industry didn't make it easy for her to educate herself on licensing costs. If Nina had access to licensing costs early in the endeavor, do you think it probably would have influenced her creative?

                      Basically, she made the very fatal mistake of not getting a lawyer and getting an understanding of the playing field before she spent time, effort, and money to make her movie without any of the rights.

                      This is where it gets weird, harold. If the Content Owner was in the business of licensing, (and not lawyering) they would have taken steps to make it as easy as possible to enter into a transaction including educational resources and pricing. When you buy groceries, does your checker require a JD? Why should an attorney be necessary to run *THIS* cash register? Instead of facilitating legitimate use, the industry still seems to perceive itself as a failing boutique shop.

                      In short, the industry fails at licensing, but is quick to prosecute and make demands with no attachment to reality for those who don't obtain the required license. Remember the $1 Billion lawsuit by Viacom?

                      So today, rights acquisition process remains relatively closed. Research of license schemes is difficult to understand by it's own identified target market (based on RIAA lawsuits this is everyone from Grandmas to college students.) In doing so, they are ill-equipped to take advantage of market desires.

                       

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              Mike (profile), Mar 8th, 2009 @ 10:48am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The purpose of copyright is to assure that others do not profit from your original work.

              This is simply not true and never has been true. The purpose of copyright is to *promote the progress of science*. The *mechanism* it to provide certain exclusivities. Once again, WH displays his near total ignorance. It's really stunning how we seem to have to correct him on everything he posts. I find it difficult to believe someone can go through life being so consistently wrong. Must be an amazing experience being so willfully ignorant of basic facts.

               

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                Weird Harold, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 2:15pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Mike, again, you are looking backward through the lens and not seeing things the same way - but we are in fact saying the same thing. "promote the progress of science" is caused by allowing inventors to profit from their work, and make sure that "assure that others do not profit from your original work". You are talking a hypothetical, and I am talking the real world, where the proverbial rubber meets the road.

                You cannot promote the advancement of anything in a free market system without allowing for recouping of costs and the profiting from an invention. You can dance around and try to slice it thin, but this is where your entire concept of copyright, patents, and trademarks falls apart. Yes, some people will develop stuff just for the pure joy of inventing, but much of what drives us today is based on financial risk and reward. Take away the mechanism that allows companies to be rewarded for new developments, and you make the risk side too big to be taken.

                When it comes to near total ignorance, well, I suggest you spend a little time in the real world to go see, away from the likeminded yes men and see how the rest of the world really works. :)

                 

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                  Beer Brats, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 2:50pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Harold,

                  Please explain how granting to an entity, who has contributed nothing towards the creation of content, the exclusive rights to said content forever benefits society and why that society should then tolerate the existence of that "rights holder" and their belligerent attitude.

                   

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                    Weird Harold, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 7:14pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Okay, say I am an artist. I write a great song, say like "happy birthday". But I am starving. I need money today. So I sell the rights to a third party, who pays me today. I use that money to eat, and with my renewed energy I write the ode to the greatest song in the world.

                    Whatever. An argument like this is like hippies being mad at the man for trying to shut down a greatful dead concert.

                     

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                  Mike (profile), Mar 9th, 2009 @ 3:11am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:


                  You cannot promote the advancement of anything in a free market system without allowing for recouping of costs and the profiting from an invention. You can dance around and try to slice it thin, but this is where your entire concept of copyright, patents, and trademarks falls apart. Yes, some people will develop stuff just for the pure joy of inventing, but much of what drives us today is based on financial risk and reward. Take away the mechanism that allows companies to be rewarded for new developments, and you make the risk side too big to be taken.


                  It must be quite an experience being you. NO ONE said that you don't recoup the costs without copyright.

                  In fact, we've pointed out how to employ systems that let you make MORE MONEY by ignoring copyright.

                  And it's not "fantasy" it works. Today. It worked in the past two.

                  The fact that you keep insisting that reality doesn't work suggests that it is you living in the fantasy world.

                   

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 10:44pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The purpose of copyright is to assure that others do not profit from your original work.

              Not according to the US constitution. You should read it sometime.

               

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 5:20am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Did angry dude learn to type or something? Man TechDirt is great! Not only do I get to read interesting stories but the sideshow of trolls with a hard on for Mike and the Gang are ridiculous.

          Course the sad bit is I don't think half the trolls here realize that their own twisted logic is not how the real world works, nor is in any way right (morally or sensibility).

          Take Weird Harold here. I'd point out the flaws in his post, but they are so obvious to anyone with the IQ of a potato that its not worth doing so only for his benefit. Particularly since he'll just take it as a personal attack instead of realizing he is wrong.

           

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        Joe, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 9:51pm

        Re: Re:

        Profiteer lol. In any other industry, outside of Washington DC, wouldn't this type of activity be considered "extortion"?

         

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      Pope Ratzo, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 6:18am

      Re:

      The bigger question is: "Why should she have to sell 100,000 copies just to pay for the licenses to use songs whose authors are all long dead?"

      Copyright is murder.

       

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      Mike (profile), Mar 7th, 2009 @ 12:03pm

      Re:


      If this is such a great movie, would the public not be clambering to see it? Could she not pre-sell 100,000 copies of it by word of mouth on the net and pay the fees as a result?


      Reading comprehension is your friend. The fees were set up in a way that the more people who paid, the more she owed. Thus, that was not possible.

      Mike? How does this work with your new world order of things?

      In the end, this will fit quite well. The success of Sita will almost certainly open up tremendous new opportunities for Ms. Paley. It's just a shame that she has to pay a $50,000 toll.

       

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      Shouter, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 1:47pm

      Re: Weird Harold the social Clamberer

      The thought of the public clambering (over what you don't say) brings to mind many vivid possibilities.

      None of them however have much relation to the public clamoring to see the movie....

       

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    Blatant Coward, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 5:52am

    Did she have to use Quack Time? Blah.

     

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    Esahc (profile), Mar 7th, 2009 @ 8:26am

    Thanks for the link . . .

    Thanks for the link, I've been following the story of this movie for a while now & plan for it to be the first download on my new system.

     

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    Sarath, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 9:48am

    Sita Sings the Blues

    I watched this feature at Fargo Film Festival duw to some technical reasons the film not shown completely. but u can download this feature from "http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/". Nina Paley done a great job. Its a very creative film...i adore her passion for finishing such a great animation feature. it has all the flavors for a full fledged release. she should have gone for it. so that she can pay these fines and she generated a great interest for the music she adaopted..

    Must Watch Feature...

     

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    Vector, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 1:19pm

    Sita Sings The Blues rights

    I saw a screening with Nina in attendance last week. She explained that the rights to the music were really quite reasonable UNTIL she synchronized the singing with the film. It was the synchronization rights that cost all the money.

    She told the audience that she was thinking about posting the specific rights fees so people could send checks directly to the rights agencys. I'm sure they'd LOVE to get a few hundred $.17 checks!

    In any event, this is a wonderful film and I highly recommend everyone take a look at it.

     

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    Art person, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 3:14pm

    Sita Sings the Blues

    For a more informed look at this issue and how it affects artists, see an interview with Nina at: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3908581847435387139&hl=en

     

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    Art person, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 3:56pm

    Sita Sings the Blues

    For a more informed look at this issue and how it affects artists, see an interview with Nina at: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3908581847435387139&hl=en

     

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    zcat, Mar 7th, 2009 @ 9:12pm

    Re: weird harold

    I seem to recall the words "for limited times" and "to promote the sciences and useful arts" got thrown about at one stage, but that was just a bunch of senile old bastards writing some idiot manifesto about how a country ought to be run. They're all long since dead so it's not like any of it matters.

     

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    Blatant Coward, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 1:16am

    Slightly off topic

    This movie is really good, even if by my perspective Rama is a total jerk.

     

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    uhmno, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 4:46am

    "that means that someone who is 90 years old would get much less potential benefit than someone who is 18. Then again, that 18 year old could get killed by a truck tomorrow and suddenly all the rights would be lost?"

    way to shoot yourself in the foot while trying to be smart...

     

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    el_bowman, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 10:17am

    I thought...

    ...that although the animation was amazing, and the music was great, the story left me flat. I found the telling of the tale to be confusing and boring.

    I know this has nothing to add to the debate re: copyright. But, I could see why someone might give it away in America. I don't see a huge market for it here.

    It might have a great audience in India?!

     

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    els maschi, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 10:45am

    Raivo Pommer
    raimo1@hot.ee

    Deutschland in der Krise

    Es brennt an allen Ecken. Längst sind es nicht mehr nur die Banken und Autohersteller, die in Schwierigkeiten sind. Es hat die ganze deutsche Wirtschaft erwischt und mit ihr den Kern unseres Erfolgs: den Export. Schon rechnet die Ausfuhrwirtschaft mit dem schlimmsten Jahr in der deutschen Geschichte. Die Krise trifft nicht nur einzelne Länder. Sie verändert das gesamte Gefüge der miteinander verwobenen Weltwirtschaft. Die liebgewordene Rollenaufteilung unter den Staaten funktioniert nicht mehr. Und eine neue ist nicht in Sicht.

    Jahrelang war es gutgegangen. Die Welt hatte mit gewaltigen Ungleichgewichten gelebt. Es hat Staaten gegeben wie Deutschland. Die wirtschafteten sehr sparsam und verkauften für mehr Geld Maschinen, Autos und Anlagen ins Ausland, als sie Fernseher, Nahrungsmittel und Öl einführten. Der Export war größer als der Import. "Leistungsbilanzüberschuss" nennen das die Fachleute.

     

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    Tee, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 1:54pm

    In a world where media can be recycled over and over and used to augment other piece's of art's value, copyright should extend to the life of the original composer.

    If a piece of my music is used in a film or commercial, I expect to get paid. And rightfully so. I didn't design a tool, I made content. When money is being made using my content, I expect to get paid for as long as I draw breath.

    Now, with that said, I don't think fees should be prohibitive. It was very stupid of the copyright holders to not figure a way of making a deal to allow the movie to be released for profit.

    Anyone who makes a living writing original music will fight tooth and nail to keep copyright laws in effect. But, I think you'll find we don't mind having reasonable modification to these laws being made. We understand that we could make additional money allowing smaller projects to use our work. I say let them use the material, and as profit comes in, pay the composers something reasonable relative to the amount of profits made. That way, everyone wins.

    Also, it's funny I don't see any of you guys saying tech companies should have the right to keep ownership of their name brands. By your logic, I should be able to write my own OS and call it Microsoft or Apple.

    Finally, she could have just had the songs remade for a much smaller fee. Then she would have owned the performances. Hell, I could have redone those songs to spec for around a thousand each. And they would have sounded very close to the originals. That's what was done for "Under The Rainbow" in Face Off.

    Tee

     

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      Beer Brats, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 2:38pm

      Re:

      "Anyone who makes a living writing original music will fight tooth and nail to keep copyright laws in effect."

      As do those who have obtained the "rights" to said works. These people add nothing to the betterment of society and continue to fight to extend the terms of that copyright to near infinity.

      I believe the original composer is no longer with us - no?

       

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      Mike (profile), Mar 9th, 2009 @ 3:07am

      Re:

      In a world where media can be recycled over and over and used to augment other piece's of art's value, copyright should extend to the life of the original composer.

      Why?

      If a piece of my music is used in a film or commercial, I expect to get paid. And rightfully so. I didn't design a tool, I made content. When money is being made using my content, I expect to get paid for as long as I draw breath.

      Do you pay everyone every time you use the instruments you bought? What about your music teachers? They gave you a lot. Do you pay them each time you create a new song, even though you're using the information they gave you?

      No? Why not?

      Anyone who makes a living writing original music will fight tooth and nail to keep copyright laws in effect.

      Why? We've seen plenty of musicians making more money by ignoring the "rights" that copyright grants them.

      Also, it's funny I don't see any of you guys saying tech companies should have the right to keep ownership of their name brands. By your logic, I should be able to write my own OS and call it Microsoft or Apple.

      It doesn't do your argument much good to use false equivalencies. We've discussed the different purposes of copyright and trademark law (they're entirely different). Copyright is about incentive to create. Trademark is about preventing consumer confusion.

      Finally, she could have just had the songs remade for a much smaller fee.

      That would sorta miss the point of the movie, wouldn't it?

       

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    Copyright Ranger, Mar 8th, 2009 @ 10:27pm

    Devil's advocate

    My question is: Why are the rights holders so inflexible? Let's say for legal argument's sake that the music does indeed belong to Werner-Chappell, Sony and the gang. And, to top that off, these songs ain't free, if you catch my drift.

    Surely an executive at one of these companies, having reviewed the terrific film, would have said "Hey kid, that's not bad. Tell you what: we'll take 8% off your back end for the two songs you used, and we'll talk our buddies at BMG et al. to do the same."

    Why did this not happen? Can someone please explain this to me? Did she send them all flaming bags of poo as an opening salvo in negotiations?

     

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      PaulT (profile), Mar 9th, 2009 @ 2:48am

      Re: Devil's advocate

      "Why did this not happen?"

      Because they're idiots, always looking at $50k now instead of the $500k they could have with a good deal.

      If the music's so valuable, why not use it? The songs are already on iTunes and other digital outlets. It would cost them nothing to repackage them as the official soundtrack to the movie and negotiate 100% take of the sales in return for using them in the movie. The movie could then be released with the caveat that every piece of marketing has to also plug the soundtrack's availability.

      If the movie's successful, they just made a decent amount of money with no effort other than soundtrack negotiation. They could also help finance Paley's next movie, piggy-backing on the good will generated by this deal.

      That's just one though. But, as with most of these things, they seem far more interested in the short-term gains than long term riches. Then they wonder why their industry is collapsing beneath their feet.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 5:39am

        Re: Re: Devil's advocate

        It strikes me as odd that pretty much everyone with an ounce of business sense can think of decent business models (or better) that the recording industry could use to their advantage but don't.

        I think it comes down to the people making these calls are all over 50ish. Some probably have mob ties and so run their business like the thugs they are.

         

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        Copyright Ranger, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 1:02pm

        Re: Re: Devil's advocate

        "They're idiots"? I've met Sony execs, and that's not how I would describe them. I think that there is a chain of events we are not privy to that led to this nonsense. It's like watching a Greek tragedy from the middle.

        As an IP attorney, it is one's role to facilitate transactions, not hinder them. I have little experience in (C) licensing, with only two acquisitions of festival rights for a short film. (C) owners are not unreasonable at all... but you have to keep in mind that you lure more flies with honey than with vinegar.

         

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    DS78, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 6:36am

    The real travesty?

    The real travesty is that songs from the 20's are still under some type of copyright restriction.

     

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      Anonymous Poster, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 9:10am

      Re: The real travesty?

      Agreed. Those songs should have been in the public domain; of course, public domain is evil and wrong...at least, that's what Disney would have you believe, anyway.

      Copyright has to change. It has to change now.

       

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    anymouse, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    So the real problem is not enough lawyers?

    Wierd Harold said, "Basically, she made the very fatal mistake of not getting a lawyer and getting an understanding of the playing field before she spent time, effort, and money to make her movie without any of the rights."

    So now apparently artists need to have a lawyer on staff/retainer before they attempt to create anything, just to make sure they aren't violating any dead artist's rights.

    For some reason the expression, "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." comes to mind.... Lawyers get a bad rap (from myself included), but they often bring it on themselves with thinking that can basically be summed up with, "When you're a lawyer, all 'solutions' involve maneuvering around existing laws, getting new laws passed, or hiring more lawyers."

    What do you call 10,000 lawyers at the bottom of the Ocean? A GOOD START

     

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      Weird Harold, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 2:13pm

      Re: So the real problem is not enough lawyers?

      No, don't take my opinion and slam it out of context.

      She SPECIFICALLY is doing a project using someone else's recordings. This is one of those cases where it should be frighteningly obvious to get rights before moving forward.

      You don't need a lawyer to write a song, but if you are going to build a work based on someone else's performance, you better take a few moments to make sure you are on solid ground before moving forward.

       

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        Daffy Duck, Mar 10th, 2009 @ 9:41am

        Re: Re: So the real problem is not enough lawyers?

        Why not? Goose meet Gander. Besides which if it becomes impossible to use copyrights, they will be worked around and end up becoming irrelevant. Creative Commons anyone?

         

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    useridchallenged, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 6:46am

    public domain in 2067

    A few folks were wondering when copyright will run out on those 1929 recordings... the answer is 2067 and not a day earlier. Welcome to the congressional work of Sonny Bono (of Sonny and Cher). In a nutshell, all recordings made prior to Feb 15, 1972 fall under states rights (the rules in every state are different). All pre-1972 recordings are then grandfathered under Federal law for an additional 95 years = 2067.

    There were a few comments saying in essence that Nina Paley should have contacted the copyright holders before putting out her movie. Not so easy as it sounds. The record labels from the 1920s were acquired and often split-and-acquired multiple times over the years. Even the record labels aren't exactly sure what they hold rights to since they've either destroyed the paper records and many have also thrown out the space-consuming stampers... If you can't find the copyright holder, there are no laws on the books (yet) for orphan works and how those should be handled so that what happened to Nina won't happen to others.

    Consider that patent law runs out after 20 years, and books are well under 100 years. Only a music recording from 1890 can still be under copyright in 2009 - 119 years later. Have you ever talked to a lawyer about out-of-print music? Even the big name music lawyers get lost the deeper you dive into this - they mostly understand in-print and post-1972 recordings.

    If I were Nina Paley, I would have complied with the cease-and-desist letters, pulled the film, and replaced the songs with music by more amenable rights holders. A much better use of $50k.

    Moreover, this sadly sets a precedent that rights holders can come out of the woodwork and successfully negotiate fairly significant synch rights on otherwise long-dead music.

     

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    David (profile), Mar 16th, 2009 @ 8:32am

    Should be vs. is

    The problem being batted back and forth here is what "should be" .vs. "what is". Weird Harold is technically correct: the rights holders get to decide what to do with their rights, that is, the music. And perhaps if Ms. Paley had asked first, she might have either gotten a better deal (good for her), or decided not to bother (bad for her and us).

    The rights holders are seen as jerks and even idiots. I doubt they are currently making much if any money off of the songs. If this movie were to come out big, they could (perhaps) make a bunch of money in renewed interest. However, they seem to only see the short term. "You are doing something with our music without asking first, so screw you, and also, screw us. We want $50K today, rather than have to put any effort into possibly making much more tomorrow." That seems short-sighted and idiotic, but it is their right to do it.

    Since they are doing it this way, they also happen to be making it difficult for Ms. Paley to make any money, and for the public to enjoy what is an excellent movie.

    But they have the right to do this! It doesn't matter that, on the face of it, it looks stupid. It doesn't matter that Ms. Paley can't make money. It doesn't matter if I can't easily see the movie at the local Cinemark.

    Is it dumb that music from the 1920's, performed by a singer who is now dead is STILL under copyright? Blame the people who voted for Sony Bono, and the other congress critters that voted for the Bono Act. But these are our laws, and Ms. Paley really should have looked into it more at the start rather than the end of her work.

    It's all a shame, because the movie really is very good. I'll be sending her a few bucks to help out.

     

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    FilmKaravan, Dec 4th, 2009 @ 9:42am

    Bring Sita home with a DVD of
    SITA SINGS THE BLUES

    Buy on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B002G50002
    Rent on Netflix: http://tinyurl.com/ybbqd7b



    Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this beautifully animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana. Set to the 1920's jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw, Sita Sings the Blues earns its tagline as "the Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told."

    Need another reason why? Check out Roger Eberts Review! http://tinyurl.com/ebert-on-sita

     

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