Thursday 15 January 2009

L'Affaire Lee: follow up links

[Making Use of Fair Use by The Chronicle of Higher Education'Online videos that use clips from copyrighted music and movies may not violate the law and deserve protection from blanket prohibitions, say the authors of a new report from the American University's Center for Social Media and Washington College of Law.']

Film Studies For Free rather angrily sounded off, the other day, on the case of the deletion of the YouTube account of Kevin B Lee, and then, much more calmly, listed lots of links to information about and discussions of the issue of fair use of (or fair dealing with) copyrighted materials for non-financial profit, educational purposes.

For those interested, here are a few more, highly worthwhile links on the issues raised by the Lee case:

As Patricia Aufderheide so appropriately puts it, in the video embedded above, the whole business is a 'very sloppy and messy beginning to a new way of making culture and making media'. And mess is, as the work of David Trotter has informed us (see p. 12), a frequent characteristic of transitional objects .

But where might we be headed après la transition (and après l'affaire Lee)? FSFF would like to follow up on a few thoughts provoked by Scott Macaulay's article, in particular.

As Macaulay very intelligently writes:

At the end of the day, as distressing as this is to the blogger community individually, I think the best way forward is to link what's happened here to the broader debate over fair use as it applies in documentary film, in classrooms, and in the kind of "remix" works [Lawrence Lessig] talks about in his new book [Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (2008)]. There are people who have been invested in these issues for years, and the voices of the online critical community should now be added to theirs.

At the same time, we should heed what [Lance Weiler in an forthcoming, relevant article for Filmmaker Magazine, online a week from Monday] suggests -- to be aware of data portability issues when we release our materials [Macaulay refers here to 'the dangers of filmmakers aggregating too much of their data on social networks that can delete their accounts -- and this data -- at the blink of an eye']. And also what [Matt Zoller Seitz] quotes Amy Taubin as saying over at his site: "One way around this problem re movie criticism is not to post on YouTube, but rather to create a dedicated site specif[i]cally for movie criticism that employs excerpts and get a good intellectual properties lawyer to take the first case that arises pro bono (it would be an important landmark case.)"'

This does sound, to Film Studies For Free, like the best, longer term way forward thus far suggested. Perhaps another good solution, in the meantime, is set out by Nina Paley in her comment to Zoller Seitz's post: 'I recommend as an alternative to youtube. It's free, it's versatile, and you can embed videos. More importantly, it is founded on the ideals of free speech and a creative commons.'

The Internet Archive is, as regular FSFF readers will know, one of this blog's favourite sites. Paley's link takes us directly to a relevant video that she has uploaded to the archive in which she discusses her own filmmaking practice. The video is described thus: 'This is an interview with cartoonist and animator Nina Paley about how copyright restrictions prevent her from distributing her award-winning, feature-length film "Sita Sings The Blues": the film makes heavy use of recordings from the late 1920s by the singer Annette Hanshaw, and although the recordings themselves are out of copyright, the music is not.'

Definitely worth checking it out. Thanks Nina (see also her blog).


Catherine Grant said...

See also this article: at Ben Sheffner's Copyrights & Campaigns blog.

Matthew Kane Parker said...

Thanks for linking to my little post on the matter. Also, I really like the idea of setting up a website dedicated to film criticism. I'm a freelance web developer and would be happy to offer my input/advice if needed.