Is Copyright Law Killing The Documentary?

from the ain't-copyright-grand? dept

A few years back, we wrote about a documentary that couldn't be shown due to copyright problems. It appears this problem is only getting worse. jprlk writes in to let us know about growing concerns from documentary filmmakers that issues concerning copyright make it increasingly difficult to actually make documentary films. Having reached this age where so many people are claiming "ownership" of content and demanding huge fees for any usage, documentary filmmakers run the risk of either getting charged repeatedly with copyright infringement or going through the long, difficult and expensive process of securing the rights. As the article quotes one documentary film maker saying, "Half of my budget is rights clearances, if you can get them." Given that the whole point of documentaries is to document things that are actually happening, it seems rather silly to realize that they can't document many things without first paying for the permission to do so.

Filed Under: copyright, documentaries


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  1. identicon
    Reed, 29 Apr 2008 @ 12:22pm

    The art of documentary

    "Maybe if some wackos weren't making propaganda hit-pieces that target the corporate content owners thinly disguised as documentaries, they wouldn't be so quick to use copyright law to stop such efforts?"

    So then your saying they use copyright laws to prevent public discourse about their actions?

    "Now I'm not saying I agree with copyright law as it stands now, but I'm just suggesting that supposed documentary filmmakers can't push and push and push against people, and then throw up their hands and cry foul when they push back."

    I am not sure where your are heading with this. Documentary makers don't keep "pushing", they typically make one documentary about a subject then move onto another. Your making it sound like it is a shoving match when it is just someone trying to create their form of art.

    The problem that I have always seen is the fact that we let people own the rights to art in the first place. Content owners cry fowl because they can't protect their ill-gotten works in an increasing digital world where their products transaction costs are reduced to zero. The answer is simple, go find a new way to make money!

    Capitalism would be a lot easier in this country if we actually forced companies to practice it instead of protecting their failing investments.

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