Re: Use of Copyrighted Materials (Also Long)

Jan Abeita (
Mon, 18 Feb 2002 11:09:54 -0800 (PST)

not only that, but it can be very very expensive to procure those rights.

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Sent: Monday, February 18, 2002 10:39 AM
Subject: Re: Use of Copyrighted Materials (Also Long)

> There are some filmmakers such as Craig Baldwin and Mark Rappaport who
> made a living making "outlaw" films using "borrowed" material and it can
> even be considered a genre unto itself. BUT:
> 1) First and foremost, it's not ethical. If you're making it for a class
> I don't think there's any objection. But once you start charging admission
> rental, you've become a thief of other people's rights be it a single
> starving artist or giant multimedia conglomerate.
> 2) It is illegal and any company (especially Disney and the Chaplin
> can come at you at any moment in the film's life be it opening night or
> years down the line and with a simple cease-and-desist, make the film
> disappear.
> 3) No legitimate company would distribute the film without the proper
> clearances. If a company is willing to, I suspect they are unethical as
> -- and as a filmmaker, I wouldn't be dealing with them. I don't care if
> a nonprofit or for-profit. I definitely suspect the company you bought the
> tape from and personally, I would take it off your stacks.
> As nice as Milestone is supposed to be, when I find a film or website that
> using our copyrighted footage illegally, I immediately send a
> cease-and-desist letter off to the producer. If that doesn't work, I take
> legal action. It's my moral and contractual obligation to my producer or
> filmmaker.
> So, the answer to your filmmaker is yes, people do this all the time. Is
> legal? No. Is it ethical? No. Can it get you and your film in trouble?
> The hardest part of any project --beyond making a good film -- is clearing
> rights and there are people who assist in this process for a fair fee.
> If this person wants a distributor and film festival exposure, she might
> to make the film first and if there is interest, then she or the
> distributor/television buyer can clear the rights. OR she can clear the
> rights to the film clips that are fairly reasonable and find substitutes
> those too expensive. There are also many articles about the use of footage
> "The Independent" magazine over the past two years which she might want to
> read.
> She should also see the most ingenious non-use of copyrighted material,
> Buba's "Lightning over Braddock" (Zeitgeist Films) and the Jumping Jack
> accordion scene. It is the blueprint for imagination, style and social
> conscience in an independent, low-budget film.
> Dennis Doros
> Milestone Film & Video
> PO Box 128
> Harrington Park, NJ 07640
> Phone: (201) 767-3117 or in the US (800) 603-1104
> Fax: (201) 767-3035
> Email:
> Website: