Documentary filmmaking and intellectual property law: free e-book and short films

The above great little comic book can currently be downloaded for free in a new and expanded edition from the Duke University Press website.

Bound by Law?: Tales from the Public Domain, by Keith Aoki, James Boyle, and Jennifer Jenkins takes a humorous look at copyright and fair use issues in relation to filmmaking. The book has a new foreword by Oscar-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (Director of An Inconvenient Truth) and a new introduction by award-winning novelist and copyright activist Cory Doctorow.

Here’s the blurb about the book (which was available, in its earlier, shorter edition, through Google Books) from the Duke University Press website:

A documentary is being filmed. A cell phone rings, playing the Rocky theme song. The filmmaker is told she must pay $10,000 to clear the rights to the song. Can this be true? Eyes on the Prize, the great civil rights documentary, was pulled from circulation because the filmmakers’ rights to music and footage had expired. What’s going on here? It’s the collision of documentary filmmaking and intellectual property law, and it’s the inspiration for this comic book. Follow its heroine Akiko as she films her documentary and navigates the twists and turns of intellectual property. Why do we have copyrights? What’s “fair use”? Bound by Law? reaches beyond documentary film to provide a commentary on the most pressing issues facing law, art, property, and an increasingly digital world of remixed culture.

The book is the fruit of the pioneering Duke Law School Center for the Study of the Public Domain. Do check out their fabulous website which, among many other resources (webcasts and online articles about fair use), has the following downloadable short films (via RealPlayer):

If you are a budding documentary filmmaker, or if you are teaching the next generation of budding documentarians, Film Studies For Free thinks that you should definitely check out all of the above resources.

Assorted recommendations

Thanks for some very nice email responses to Film Studies For Free‘s last posting. Today, FSFF brings you a round up of links to some great online resources.

  • First of all, a very good, film-related, online, Open Access journal that I didn’t have in my earlier list: Limina, a refereed academic journal of historical and cultural studies based in the Discipline of History at the University of Western Australia. For a good sample article, please try Tama Leaver‘s ‘Rationality, Representation and the Holocaust in Life is Beautiful’.
  • Next, please check out a great website run by the International Documentary Association (IDA) which has lots of items of academic Film-Studies interest: The best features (from FSFF‘s point of view) are lots of freely accessible, online video clips, and a very good selection of magazine articles drawn from the IDA’s print publication Documentary (link to latest issue on documentaries related to elections HERE, and to the magazine archive HERE).
  • Via, a great link to audio and video recordings of the 2006 and 2007 Futures of Entertainment (1 & 2) conferences at MIT, including papers given by Henry Jenkins (see also HERE), Jason Mittell (see also HERE), and Danah Boyd ( see also HERE). I do hope that lots of other conference organisers will note just how great it is to be able to access international conference papers in this way, from anywhere in the world, albeit only with the right technology, of course. See the Convergence Cultures Consortium weblog for updates about Futures of Entertainment 3.
  • Somewhat tardily, I just discovered that you can subscribe to a truly excellent weblog by Moving Image Source (now added to Film Studies For Free‘s blogroll). FSFF has previously commented on the parent site’s great resources (including wonderful podcasts). The weblog has very high quality material, indeed: for example, see this great posting ‘This Way, Myth’ by Jonathan Rosenbaum (also see HERE).
  • Finally, for today, my recommendation of two of the most useful weblogs (for Film Studies academics, at any rate) that I’ve yet come across with a focus on film industry research.
    • The first is Bigger Picture Research – a ‘A no-nonsense look at film biz research from around the world’ – which is expertly run by Jim Barratt (also author of a soon to be published study of Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste (1987) by Wallflower Press). Bigger Picture Research has fantastic links, is frequently updated, and is beautifully (and most unfussily) set out. It does what it says on its tin, and more: in other words, it has an admirably global focus and reach. There is no better website that critically and concisely examines the commercial and industrial discourses of film. Please do subscribe (get the feed HERE)and support this blog!
    • The second is a link I’ve only just thought of adding to FSFF‘s lengthy blogroll, which is r a t h e r strange; as a researcher into contemporary cinema and the impact of new technologies on old film practices and discourses (like auteurism), it’s the blog I’ve been following the longest (since its inception in May 2005). The aforehinted-at website is CinemaTech, a blog that focuses precisely on ‘how new technologies are changing cinema – the way movies get made, discovered, marketed, distributed, shown, and seen’. It’s run by Scott Kirsner, a prolific film journalist and digital film commentator. It’s not as ‘links-oriented’ as Bigger Picture Research, but (like that blog) does give good opinion, as well as accurate news coverage, in very rapid response to film-industry developments. FSFF apologises profusely for waiting until now to link to CinemaTech. Please help to assuage its guilt by (co-)adopting this wonderful blog (get the feed HERE). Thank you.

Now, back to the global financial crisis… Have a good weekend, won’t you.