Ernie the Attorney : searching for truth & justice (in an unjust world)
Updated: 6/5/2003; 10:30:06 PM.


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Monday, March 25, 2002

Proposed Oscar for next year: "Movie with Least Copyright Clearance Rights"

Larry Lessig's important book, The Future of Ideas, begins with a chapter that explains the process by which movie directors must "clear rights" for all commercially recognizable things that appear in a movie.  He quotes director David Guggenheim, who explains:

"Ten years ago ... if incidental artwork... was recognized by a common person, then you would have to clear its copyright.  Today, things are very different.  Now, if any piece of artwork is recognizable by anybody...then you have to clear the rights of that and pay to use the work.  Almost every piece of artwork, any piece of furniture, or scupture, has to be cleared before you can use it....

So I would say to an 18-year old artist, you're totally free to do whatever you want.  But -- and then I would give him a long list of all the things that he couldn't include in his movie because they would not be cleared, legally cleared.  That he would have to pay for them [So freedom?  Here's the freedom]: You're totally free to make a movie in an empty room, with your two friends."

I couldn't help wondering about the problem of getting copyright clearance when I was watching the movie The Royal Tenenbaums.  If you look closely, you'll notice that there are no recognizable billboards, signs, or logos.  The only exceptions I noted to this was at one point when Gwenneth Paltrow was shown wearing a Lacoste shirt, and another time when Ben Stiller was seen working on an Apple computer.  Perhaps the Wilson brothers (who made the movie) were making a point, or perhaps they just didn't want to pay for the clearance rights. 

If hoarders of intellectual property rights had their way then the barriers to entry by young filmakers would be high indeed.  Perhaps, the Academy ought to give out an award that young filmakers would have a chance of winning:  The Movie with the Least Copyright Clearance Rights.   And Fritz Hollings could present the award....

8:27:36 PM    

Digital Rights: Would you like some?

If so, then make sure you read Dan Gillmor's article.  And after you read it, if you are inclined, then take some action.  Waiting for Congress to figure out how how the digital world is supposed to work is like letting Colonel Sanders babysit your chickens....

3:30:03 PM    

© Copyright 2003 Ernest Svenson.

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