It’s Copyright, not the Boogeyman.

I’ve spent some time with this topic in various forms or another.  I liked the comic book handling of copyright, a well developed piece that explains a complex topic.

Most of my experience with copyright comes from the film business.  Television and Film companies have a process by which they must create a name of a film or use any product.  Most people in the industry use Dennis Angel, layer/copyright expert. For ten bucks he can run a full copyright report for you.  Pretty cheap considering if you do not get proper clearance it can cost a ton down the road. Not to mention the pain of having to perhaps rename your title.  So the industry does it’s due diligence to ensure that they have all rights and clearances for their piece This includes proper release forms and contracts all signed before the performer, director, camera operator lift one finger. The studios have this down to a science and it’s bang bang done.  Independent filmmakers  and floundering digital storytellers, such as myself, have it harder, much much harder.  Though it does help to know that if I need to I can drop ten bucks and get Dennis Angel, lawyer, to help me out.

Finding your way through the law is one thing, finding out who own rights is a whole other battle that can be maddening. You REALLY want your piece to get made when you start digging up copyright and trademark information on every image, musical note or prop used in your piece.

In my Administration of Archives class we talked a great deal about Copyright issues, at the time. There was a case regarding Blackboard software and fair fuse of materials. Yes, it is a grey area, one that professors have been fortunate to use through their careers- anyone remember picking up the bound printout packets from the school printer that contained copies of materials for the course? Perhaps,  I am dating myself with that, but my point is as frustrating as the law is, I do not find the law intimidating just a tangled web to negotiate on my way to crafting my Princess Lea/ Star Wars parody.

For my project I had to sing a release about the materials I copied from the West Virginia State Archives.  The first part of the form stated that I was using the material for educational purposes and will not distribute said DST without permission, the second was the proper credit I need to include at the end of my piece, I will gladly happily do that.  For my part, i have music being  donated to my piece and I’ve gotten a release form signed and ready to go. Copyright, for me is not so much the Boogeyman something on but rather on my to-do list to be aware of and dilligent in handling.

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2 Responses
  1. lparks says:

    Your information about how the film industry handles this is really interesting. I had no idea how they got all that worked out. Is Dennis Angel really the only copyright lawyer that film companies use? It seems like there would be a lot more.

    I’m wondering if more online resources used releases like you had to sign for your material, if there would be less copyright infringement. It seems like most people creating content for the internet are doing it for their own personal use, or for an educational use, and would be more than happy to add a credit at the end of their piece. This would work especially well for bloggers and people who put videos on youtube.

  2. tgoodwin says:

    I’m more than sure Dennis is not the only act in town, but I know he’s cheap and easy to use and gets the information back in a timely fashoin. He’s certainly found his niche.

    Don’t get me wrong there are some folks who probably would not let me use the material, I really had to turn on the charm for them (I did spend two days in the basment of the West Vrigina Archives digging through audio and researching) to a) give me copies of things and b) be okay with me putting it in my DST. I promised proper credit and if it was going to be used in anywhere else, I would have to let them know.