- My name is Jed Horovitz. I run a very small company that distributes the movie previews you see in your local video store. We have about a half dozen employees. We’ve been doing that for 16 years. In 1998, we started to help retailers like Netflix.com and libraries inform their customers and patrons about movies via their web sites.
In the summer of 2000, The Walt Disney Company sent us a ‘cease and desist’ letter stating that we were violating their copyright by helping to promote their movies online. Yes, that’s right, Disney wanted us to stop helping them make more money. Confused? So was I. My attorney advised me that we could ask the court for a ‘declaratory judgement’ to find out if Disney really had the right to order us around like that. We did and then Disney sued for $110 million.
I don’t really know why they’d suddenly want to stop us from doing online the exact same thing that we’ve been doing in stores for years, but letting them dictate how, where and to whom we provide what information would have compromised our integrity and put us out of business. I do know that they want to insure that nothing negative can ever be said about their movies, and that just didn’t seem right.
Ever wonder what it feels like to be sued for more money than Napster? It’s pretty scary. After awhile it becomes an endurance contest. Lawyers talk. Lawyers write. Judges talk. Judges write. You pay lots of legal bills. You don’t get to say a thing. You get frustrated. Nobody else notices. That is why I made this movie.
It started out as the story of my lawsuit with the mouse. At first, I was going to call it “Mickey and Me” but, as I talked to others facing run-ins over copyright, it turned out to be about so much more than just my story. This is a video about the struggle between free expression and private ‘intellectual’ property. It all centers on the right to ‘quote’.
QUOTING has evolved over the last four hundred years. Once upon a time you could only repeat my words from your own memory. Later on, you could quote me in writing. With the advent of recorded media, you could quote me by re-recording a sound or an image. In the digital age, it is just a matter of cut and paste. This may sound like progress to you but to companies like Walt Disney it is a threat to their business model which is based on owning creativity.
We talked to professors and librarians who warned about the corporate ownership of culture. We talked to artists, writers, musicians, scientists and even party clowns who have been threatened, sued, fined and even jailed in the name of ‘Copyright’. We talked to lots of lawyers who said that copyright has become the tool of large corporations, used to abuse anyone whose rights come into conflict with theirs…..