In the film industry, there are similar concerns. I had the opportunity to briefly discuss fair use and copyright with Michael C. Donaldson and Lisa Callif after writing a review of their book on the subject of copyright and fair use in independent films. Here are the questions and responses.
Let us discuss content scraping (a common problem in the blogging community). What are the legal issues that come into play? Your book discusses the importance of obtaining a contract if you are going to use an idea from a published piece. Is this commonplace or are there still risks being taken by filmmakers in this respect?
Content scraping is growing. As a consumer, I often appreciate the aggregating of the best articles on a given subject. As someone who does a lot of writing, I wonder why these aggregators don't do the work of writing their own stuff. The future of this practice is going to have to accommodate the new reality of the Internet.
Tell me about the current issues with copyright. Due to the immediateness of the Internet and the ease of manipulate copyrighted materials, are you any busier defending clients’ copyrighted materials? What would you like to see happen for more protections of artists' work?
Effective protection of artists’ works is waiting for some technological advances that are in the pipeline. Filmmakers need to be able to easily and economically identify illegal copying, posting, and distribution of their works—including the identity of the culprits. This needs to be accompanied by easy-to-use takedown tools.
In your series of books, including The American Bar Association's Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking, you cover various areas of copyright infringement and fair use in filmmaking. Please briefly explain what fair use is.
Fair use is an explicit provision of the copyright law that allows filmmakers to use items that are copyright protected in order to create something new and different as long as they don’t use more than is necessary. It contributes in an enormous way to filmmakers being able to tell their stories, their way.
Please explain your work on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In July 2010 the amendment was revised to include permissions for indie filmmakers to use digital and electronic copyrighted materials for their film use—please explain what this means for indie filmmakers.