How copyright clearance problems stultify documentaries

Forty-five percent of the budget for the movie “Mad Hot Ballroom” covered the cost of “clearing” rights to songs. The filmmaker even had to negotiate with the subject of the film not to play certain music, because the presence of an uncleared song playing in the background on a boombox would prevent a scene from being used. A three-word-shout that corresponded to the lyrics of a song would have cost the filmmakers $5,000 alone; they had to cut the scene rather than risk litigation. Carrie McLaren interviews producer/writer Amy Sewell on the Stay Free Daily blog (Jun. 22), and a follow-up post notes how the fear of litigation prevented her from asserting her fair-use rights (Jun. 22), a problem that could be solved by loser-pays rules. (Hat tip to C.N.) More: Feb. 8-10, 2002.


  • get rid of copyright

    Interesting post over at about the problems documentaries have obtaining permission to use copyrighted works.

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