A Fair(y) Use Tale
DHL Founder and billionaire Larry Hillblom seemed to have vanished into thin air when he failed to return from a routine flight in his vintage Seabee. After his disappearance a dark side of Larry emerged. Even before he was officially declared dead, bar girls throughout Asia came forward claiming to have children by Larry and seeking a piece of his vast fortune. SHADOW BILLIONAIRE unravels the secretive and scandalous life of this enigmatic and reclusive tycoon. Read more about Shadow Billionaire
The Powder & the Glory, part of the Fair Use Project's Documentary Film Program, will have its broadcast premiere on PBS Monday March 23, 2009 at 10PM (check local listings) as part of Women's History Month.
The Powder & the Glory tells the story of two of the first highly successful women entrepreneurs in America, Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein. One hundred years ago these women immigrated to the United States and, starting with next to nothing, created what is today the $150 billion global health and beauty industry. They lived and worked only blocks apart but by design they never met. They were fierce rivals. Their competition drove them both to great creativity and success. Read more about The Powder & the Glory premieres on PBS
The American Indian Film Festival has honored River of Renewal by choosing it for the festival's opening night. The World Premiere will occur Friday, November 7th at 7:00 pm at the Landmark Embarcadero Center Cinema, One Embarcadero Center, San Francisco. Read more about River of Renewal
After both the state and federal courts rejected the attempts of Yoko Ono Lennon and EMI Records to enjoin the showing of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed on the ground it used a 15-second fragment of John Lennon's Imagine, all of the plaintiffs in both cases have now withdrawn their claims and dismissed their cases.
This is the right result to be sure. There should never have been any doubt the filmmakers who were sued here had every right to use a short segment of a song for the purpose of criticizing it and the views it represents. But the right result came far too late. The mere pendency of these cases caused the film's DVD distributor to shy away from releasing the full film -- the version that includes the Imagine segment. So the film goes out on DVD on October 21 in censored form, illustrating the damage that even an unproved and unsupported infringement claim can do.
At the same time, the result here -- great but imperfect -- is a fantastic lesson in how we might start to solve the fair use dilemma. We launched the Documentary Film Program with Media Professional Insurance and Michael Donaldson to help solve a critical problem: fair use rights are expensive to use because they require lots of lawyer time. Media Pro took the visionary step of insuring fair use risks. We and Donaldson agreed to mediate these risks by vetting the fair use issues ahead of time. (We do it for free; Donaldson has to make a living.) Donaldson reviewed Expelled, and Media Pro insured it. When its producers got sued, we agreed to defend it pro bono, alongside the producers' regular counsel at the Locke Lord firm. Together we won, kept the cost to Media Pro minimal, and thus demonstrated that the fair use problem can be solved, in many (but perhaps not all) cases by teamwork like this.
I'm proud to have been a part of it. Read more about Expelled Is Absolved