Re: news footage licensing

From: Flick Harrison (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Dec 04 2007 - 10:49:19 PST

Copyrights are counter-intuitive, i.e. thinking you are being
reasonable is not likely correct.

Festivals generally don't care. There was a famous incident recently
with Johnathan Culp (Satan MacNuggit) being refused a fest screening
and getting a campaign going around fests excluding artworks, even if
they fall into "fair use."

Here's a good article about one of his campaigns:

Bruce McDonald re-cut his own feature Picture Claire into a stinging
semi-documentary attack on the studio that ruined the full-release
version. It showed at the Toronto Film Fest.

Fair Use, by the way, is specific to your country but usually means
that an artist not making a profit can get away with using stuff for
editorial comment on the copied material.

Unfortunately, the only answer to these questions is really "ask a
lawyer." If you can afford a lawyer, you can afford the rights, I'm
sure, and vice versa.

Long excerpt here, so as to get this archived on Frameworks for
future historians:

Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 01:17:23 -0500 (EST)
From: satanmacnuggit <satanmacnuggit at
Subject: Sampling and fair use - pressure me!


This one is really important and is just killing me so check it out.

In 2002 I had a film accepted, then rejected from the Niagara (Canada)
Indie Film Festival due to copyright. As you may know, I make collage
films from mass media imagery in order to question and contextualize,
therefore critique, those images. I do this because 1) I'm broke and
an accessible method under the circumstances, and 2) I have loved hip
ever since my ear caught a fragment of "Night of the Living
Baseheads" in
the intro to Bowie's "Fame." The idea that I owe money (tens of
dollars a
SECOND usually) to corporate owners of intellectual property, if I
wish to
critique them in my media of choice, is just not convincing to me.
"Artists' rights?" Ain't I an artist?

So in 2003 I submitted again, pleading with them that, now that the
where I was born finally has ONE film festival, they could reconsider
rule. I made my arguments and gave them letters of support, including
other film festival workers, since this policy is in fact an anomaly on
the festival as opposed to broadcast level - even TIFF has given
awards to
uncleared collage films in recent memory.

CASH awards at that - and that is one reason I found NIFF's response
unacceptable, because they made the case that it was unjust for collage
films to be entered into competition for cash prizes. The compromise
offered was to show my films at a special free screening, to be followed
by a debate with a copyright lawyer. Aside from the fact that I was
working and could not attend the festival, I couldn't help but remember
what Alanis Obomsawin told the CBC when they broadcast a rebuttal after
"Kanehsatake": the film speaks for itself.

Now it is 2004 and the festival deadline is approaching again, and I am
living IN THE VERY CITY where the festival is happening. I have dreaded
playing political games with one of the tiny handful of arts
resources in
Niagara, and so I have tried to deal with it through reason and
The upshot of this was that, after strenuously agreeing with all my
arguments, the festival director explained, "It's complicated and you'll
just have to trust me." You can write your own snappy answer to THAT.

So...I wrote a petition. I prepared to place it on line, and started
asking around for folks to endorse my demands. Which were:

1) that NIFF accept fair use collage films on equal terms, without

2) that NIFF allow filmmakers to 'sign off' on copyright liability
additional interrogation and policing by festival staff;

3) that NIFF should institute concrete and publicized methods by
which the
public can participate in decision-making and the formulation or
of policy.

I've never organized, as opposed to documented, an activist campaign
before. My skills are not too compatible but I was ready to learn if the
alternative was artistic exile. However, now I have to face facts. Ever
since I got back from tour, I have been dealing like mad with my
emotional baggage, which I won't even get IN to here. Although I finally
have a (temporary, borrowed) home and (too many!) moments to myself, my
demons are eating up time that I should be spending on editing my
jamming with my band, writing.

At any rate, one thing I have learned is that it is futile to try or
pretend that you are solving the problems of your world ALONE; and to
to organize a campaign in my current situation would almost certainly
reproduce that terrible mistake.


What I am going to suggest that you do is to write to ME and exert a
pressure campaign on ME to keep making collage films, that methods of
media sampling and commentary can be worthwhile and useful and should be
supported from an activist and/or artistic perspective.

Talk in your own words, from your own knowledge and experience, and give
examples if possible. Differing viewpoints are welcome. Pix and crap
that all great; hell, do a collage about it. Email everything to
jonathan at

If I get enough replies before April 1, I will put them out in a
zine, or
post them on the web site, or both. NIFF will definitely get to see
your perspectives, in whatever form.

Circulate, post, publish, announce. The more the merrier. Thanks!

- Jonathan Culp
Satan Macnuggit Popular Arts


On 3-Dec-07, at 12:41 PM, tor hansen wrote:

> Hello everyone,
> I am working on a short piece and hoping to utilize some news
> footage from The Beslan school siege and Chernobyl. The ultimate
> goal for the project being festival submission.
> I am hoping to get some advice around licensing and copyright
> issues with regards to news footage acquired both from television
> and the internet.
> Do I need festival rights? Are there loopholes to be used? Any
> tidbits would be appreciated.
> Thanks in advance,
> Tor Hansen
> _________________________________________________________________
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For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.