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
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2008 @ 4:46pm

    "I think documentary makers need to go back to their roots of actually going out, interviewing people, and shooting their own footage. Frederick Wiseman, for example, has never used a clip from somebody else in his entire career."

    But, at some point, he had to use a name or show a product or logo or some kind of thing that could be used to identify the object of the documentary. Which he could be sued for. Which doesn't make any sense.

    It should be fair use, just as I can review music, movies, or products on a website and sell ads on the website. People go to see the reviews and see my ads and make me money. That's still Fair Use. Why not a docu? Copyright law needs to stop everything and start the fuck over.

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