Documentarians Face the Business of Fair Use
“Alicia Sams’ ‘Wanderlust’, a 90-minute documentary about American road movies, to be broadcast Monday night on the Independent Film Channel (IFC), was a window into the frustrations of making a clip-intensive film dependent on copyright clearance, which has become hugely expensive in the past decade. Initial quotations for the necessary sequences came to more than $450,000, which would have raised by half the cost of the IFC film, directed by the Oscar-nominated team of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini.
“‘Paramount wanted $20,000 for 119 seconds of ‘Paper Moon,’ ‘ Ms. Sams said. ‘The studios are so afraid of exploitation that they set boundaries no one will cross. Even after the prices were cut, we were $150,000 in the hole.’
“Unwilling to pay those fees, IFC’s general manager, Evan Shapiro, helped Ms. Sams pursue another, more aggressive, tack, which may point the way for documentarians who want to tap movie iconography without paying studio prices. Its strategy involved some negotiating hardball, backed up by a willingness to fall back on the tricky legal doctrine known as fair use.”
Elaine Dutka. No Free Samples for Documentaries: Seeking Film Clips With the Fair-Use Doctrine. The New York Times. May 28, 2006.
Related Stories & Documents:
K. Matthew Dames. Demystifying Fair Use. CopyCense. March 2, 2006.
CopyCense. Documentary FIlmmakers Release Fair Use Statement. Dec. 9, 2005.
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