Untold Stories: Creative Consequences of the Rights Clearance Culture
By Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi
This study explores the implications of the rights clearance process on documentary filmmaking, and makes recommendations to lower costs, reduce frustration, and promote creativity. It focuses on the creative experience of independent, professional documentary filmmakers. (You can download the entire report here.)
Rights clearance costs are high, and have escalated dramatically in the last two decades.
Gatekeepers, such as distributors and insurers, enforce rigid and high-bar rights clearance expectations
The rights clearance process is arduous and frustrating, especially around movies and music.
Rights clearance problems force filmmakers to make changes that adversely affect--and limit the public's access to--their work, and the result is significant change in documentary practice.
Filmmakers, while sometimes seeing themselves as hostages of the "clearance culture," also are creators of it.
Filmmakers nonetheless exercise fair use, and imagine a more rational rights environment.
Make the most of fair use:
- Develop and disseminate models of "best practices";
- Establish one or more "legal resource centers" to support filmmakers.
Facilitate the clearance process:
- Establish a non-profit rights clearinghouse;
- Work for legislation on orphan works.
Build greater awareness of filmmakers' use rights:
- Facilitate filmmaker access to sound pre-production legal advice;
- Develop learning materials -to provide a balanced general account of intellectual property, for filmmakers and film students;
- Educate gatekeepers about creators' use rights.
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