Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The time and effort to copyright clear materials

K.M. Dames reports in CopyCense about the successful efforts to copyright clear -- after the fact -- materials used in a documentary called "Eyes on the Prize." Dames wrote:
I'm unsure of how or why I missed this news, but I am glad to read (per The Chutry Experiment) that the groundbreaking civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize will begin airing again in Fall 2006. As CopyCense posted in January 2005, the documentary had not been broadcast for more than a decade (nor had it been made available on DVD) because the licensing rights to its massive aggregation of archival film had lapsed in the mid-1990s.

But last summer, Wired News reported that the Ford Foundation and a philanthropist Richard Gilder granted $850,000 to save the project. The money will go toward licensing fees and post-production work. (It also is likely that the footage and the masters tapes will have to undergo some level of professional archival and preservation work, since the 14-part series first aired in 1987.)

According to the Wired News article,

The task of reacquiring rights [to still photos, video footage and music] has fallen on [Blackside lawyer Sandy] Forman and a team of film industry veterans who worked on the Eyes series. They have a formidable job ahead: Blackside used video footage from 82 archives, and approximately 275 still photographs from about 93 archives. About 120 song titles were used as well.

In January, PBS announced that the series would be rebroadcast on the station's American Experience program.

When we talk about copyright clearing materials for digitization, we know that we are talking about -- possibly -- a massive effort. Many side step that effort by only using materials that are clearly in the public domain. Others will seek to digitize materials where it is known that copyright clearance will be easy to get (perhaps limiting this effort to a few items). Here we have a large effort, involving materials from many, many sources.

Obviously, from what Dames has written, the entire $850,000 is not being used just for copyright clearance/licensing, but also to help preserve the master tapes. What we are reminded from this is that we do need funding to help preserve the media we are creating.

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1 comment:

PBJ said...

$850,000 is a lot. Any idea how long it would take, time wise, to clear so many items?