Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thick as Thieves

This was an interesting panel dealing with fair use and copyright issues of content on the Internet. It's been a topic that has been brought up briefly in almost every panel I've been to so far.

The panel existed of a copyright attorney, a Warner Brothers representative and a guy named m dot Strange, no seriously, his name plate said dot Strange.

One key point talked about in avoiding copyright infringement is the transformation of the original work. The copyright attorney did say that in parody cases of infringement, if you make the judge laugh at the content you have produced, odd are you have won the case. 

The Lord of the Rings is to Long video is a good case of parody and transformation. The creative content put into editing, writing and filming transformed the original into new content. 

However, as pointed out by the Warner Brothers rep, if someone is loading an entire episode of a show to YouTube in small clips they will asked that it be removed. But if a fan were to post favorite shots of an actor/actress to YouTube they would not have it removed. They regard this as fan usage of the product. Trying to sell the content in any way of course opens an entire new can of worms. 

As small independent filmmakers are concerned with using copyrighted material in films on a small budget Warner Brothers was willing to either eliminate licensing fees all together or other them at a lower price, more like a tiered pricing scale. Clips of a song or other movies within movies, depending on length used was key in deciding when to charge a nominal fee for licensing rights of simply look the other way. The other key point in all of this is non-commercial use. 

In Bambi Meets Godzilla instead of suing the creator the producers of Godzilla simply bougts the rigts to it and used it in a trailer for the movie in the late 60s.

About the DRMs (Digital Rights Managing) that are in place now the Warner Brothers rep said they are there to keep the honest people honest and the dishonest people working harder.


Anonymous said...

Jac -- Great stuff. I loved both the LOTR parody video and the Godzilla/Bambi video. And this involves copyright issues and parody? I'm in media law heaven.
Thanks! -- Gilbert D. Martinez

Irene said...

M dot Strange got the public's attention on youtube originally and went on to Sundance 07 - his "we are the strange" trailer is pretty awesome

Meagan Meyer said...

I see the issue that independent filmmakers have, when it comes to using copyrighted material. However, I wonder if when they say they might eliminate licensing all together that would just be for certain people like independent filmmakers, or would it be in the public domain for everyone to use freely? I think that the tiered pricing would be a better solution for this issue than eliminating the fee altogether because it may be difficult to determine where to draw the line on who can use the material and who can't.