Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Fair Use needs to apply to documentary film; clumsy renewal process at Copyright Office in progress now
“Fair Use” has always protected brief quotes of the work of others in essays and books, for the purposes of criticism. But that does seem to apply cleanly to documentary filmmaking and the video essay.
There are strict industry practices to prevent DVD ripping, which you see on every DVD you buy or rent from Netflix. These were to prevent piracy and undermine the whole industry. The obnoxious anti-piracy warnings, usually in many languages and alphabets, warn of fines and incarceration, all implemented legally by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. There seems to be a small exemption that applies to documentary film which the International Documentary Association has requested be expanded in 2015.
The IDA has a FAQ page for filmmakers here. The IDA submitted an exemption extension request to the United States Copyright Office in early February 2015.
Sonny Bunch has an article in his “Act Four” column of the Washington Post on March 24, here.
I wonder what the George Washington University Documentary Center, which has advertised at the nearby West End Cinema (sadly closing) would say about this.