Documentary Filmmaker Has To Turn Over Some Footage To Chevron

from the not-so-shielded-after-all dept

Back in May, we wrote about a judge ordering a documentary filmmaker to turn over the footage that didn't make the film to Chevron. The documentary was about Chevron's alleged involvement in Ecuadorian rainforest pollution, and Chevron believes that some of the cut footage will help get a case that has been filed against it in Ecuador dismissed. The filmmaker tried to raise press protections, but the district court judge shot that down, saying that the material was not confidential (and, in fact, was filmed knowing it might be made public). The case was appealed, and the appeals court wasted little time in again telling the filmmaker to hand over footage, but the court also appears to have limited the scope somewhat:
  • Berlinger has to turn over all footage showing (1) plaintiffs' counsel in Chevron's civil lawsuit in Ecuador, (2) private or court-appointed experts, and (3) current or former Ecuadorian officials;
  • Chevron can only use the material produced for litigation, arbitration or submission to official government bodies;
  • Chevron must pay for all reasonable costs incurred by Berlinger in turning over the footage; and
  • The district court below shall maintain jurisdiction to address any disputes relating to the release of the footage.
Apparently, both sides are claiming victory, but as Itai Maytal at the Citizen Media Law Project notes, the full details of the ruling (not yet issued) will matter a lot, and no matter what, this could be seen as a "weakening" of previous case law about reporter's privileges, which could lead to more lawsuits against reporters.

Filed Under: confidentiality, documentary, footage, privacy
Companies: chevron

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  1. icon
    ChadBroChill (profile), 19 Jul 2010 @ 8:10pm

    But if it was documentary . . .

    If it was actual live footage, why shouldn't Chevron have access to it? What harm could them having access to footage of their operations incur on the filmmaker? I am a film student, and if I made a doc about a company, who then wanted A COPY of the footage, I would gladly hand it over. It would be different if they were trying to stifle a negative story or something, but this is about freeing useful information from private hands who would never release it otherwise. Isn't that what we get pissed off at studios for doing? How is it different when a large company asks and individual for access? I'm all about freeing up information, so let's not set a double standard.

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