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
    That Guy, 29 Apr 2008 @ 12:35pm

    RE: Michael Moore ruined everything

    There is some truth to that only if you believe that he makes documentaries.

    Documentaries as they were originally concepted were about DOCUMENTING real life, as it happened. Take the documentary film Murderball. There were no "staged" scenes or interactions, and no original concept pieces created.

    The films that Moore makes are "borderline" documentaries. He creates large amounts of original material ( his cartoon from Bowling for Columbine for example ) and he CREATES elaborate staged scenes such as sending people to Cuba in his last film.

    Moore is one of the greatest "communicators" of our era, and he uses the medium of film to its fullest. But at the end of the day his latest films can't really be called documentaries.

    So if your making a FILM, for the dual purpose of communicating your ideas and making money, I think media owners should still own rights to their footage.

    It's not as those Moore is running a non profit organization, he runs a film production company.

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