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
    andy, 29 Apr 2008 @ 2:41pm

    the topic

    I agree with #12 I think this discussion should be about the trouble trying to license everything that incidentally made it into a frame or onto the audio. Posters, music in a store, the store its self. I recently edited a documentary about the homeless and we were planning on releasing it on the web and that is going nowhere, the company that owns the footage is dragging its feet, but to get to the point. If the people who worked on this project get the rights back and try to release it, there would be a huge amount of posters, stores (burger king, safeway), and beverage brands that might have to be blurred out. This is a total waste of time and does nothing to protect the consumer from bad inferences about the product in question. if you see a red soda can blurred out, you can be pretty sure it's a coke. This is the kind of thing I think should be protected by fair-use. But I can see that there are places where limits should be set. muddy water indeed.

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