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February 1, 2005

Documentary Dilemmas

Several months ago, Brian Flemming mentioned a rather frustrating dilemma for documentary filmmakers, noting that "a corporation can (and often will) sue simply because you caught a trademark or copyrighted media product in the background of a shot." Flemming notes that the ubiquity of corporate logs can make filming certain kinds of documentaries difficult at best.

Now the cinetrix reports another documentary dilemma. The civil rights doc Eyes on the Prize is unavailable on video and TV "because of expired copyright licenses." These expired licenses include footage of a group of people singing "Happy Birthday" to Martin Luther King, Jr. The producers of the film cannot afford to renew these licenses, so the film may not be re-released for some time. The good news: A group called Downhill Battle has called for public screenings of the documentary on February 8 at 8 p.m. I'll be attending the Atlanta screening, and hope that other bloggers can attend screenings in their communities.

The cinetrix also makes some important points about the fragility of video and the potential for films such as Eyes to disappear from public consciousness, so be sure to take a look at her entry on the screenings.

Posted by chuck at February 1, 2005 11:48 PM

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I have a copy of one of the episodes because I wrote a paper on school integration my senior year in college. I'm thinking now I should take it in to school and digitize it, just in case. I wish I had the other episodes.

Posted by: Laura at February 2, 2005 7:45 AM

You can download copies using Bit Torrent. Not at all legal, though.

Posted by: G Zombie [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 2, 2005 8:53 AM

I'd imagine that there are a few copies available. G's reference to Bit Torrent is yet another example of the copyright issues that have been circulating around this film.

Posted by: Chuck [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 2, 2005 1:07 PM

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