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Fair Use Successes in Documentary Film: The Most Dangerous Man in America

The Most Dangerous Man in AmericaWhat difference does employing fair use make to a film?

Sometimes it means the difference between making a film and not making it.

Take “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” the Academy Award-nominated film about whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. “Knowing how to employ fair use meant that we could finish the film,” said producer/director Judith Ehrlich. Read more...

More Fun with the Public Domain

A Trip to the MoonIn a mostly-copyrighted world, it’s really hard for media makers to find work that’s genuinely public domain (uncopyrighted), but a new project is making it easy.

The collaborative online video marketplace Pond5 (you can upload your own footage to it and sell it there) is launching a library of public domain content that includes 10,000 video clips, 65,000 photos, thousands of sound recordings, and hundreds of 3D models. Read more...

6 Reasons Why Indie Filmmakers Still Care If They’re on TV

POV DocsDoes anyone still need broadcast TV to reach an audience? I mean, hello, YouTube, and hey there, Amazon Prime.

That’s the question that hit independent documentary filmmakers across the country in late December, when it looked like the two public TV series that carry indie docs—Independent Lens and POV—might get moved to the programming equivalent of Siberia. A 1,200 signature petition changed WNET and PBS’s minds for the moment, and prompted a nation-wide listening tour. The first event on the tour, in San Francisco, packed a room with more than 200 people, speaking about how indie film on public TV makes a difference to soldiers, moms, vets, immigrants, young people and more.

But in a cord-cutting world, why are indie filmmakers so passionate about public TV? Read more...

Games for Civic Engagement—What Do You Really Want?

Image via @angiechuangAt an American University Faculty Forum, new faculty member Benjamin Stokes explained what makes games for civic engagement actually work.

There are plenty of games for civic engagement, he noted, and we’re gradually learning about what works. There’s a “push” or broadcast model for games like Darfur Is Dying or Peter Packet. There are “pull” games like the many 311 apps that let citizens report problems to city agencies. Read more...

Kudos for Waxman, ITVS and Indies

Top Row: Tracy Doz Tragos, Darius Clark Monroe, Byron Hurt, Dawn Porter, Pat Harrison; Front: Sally Jo Fifer and Rep. Henry Waxman"It is a treat seeing the product of legislation we wrote in the 80s," said Rep. Henry Waxman at an Independent Television Service award ceremony for him. "The rich and powerful often get their way in D.C., but the poor and marginalized don't get their story told."

Waxman, who is widely beloved for his pragmatic and conscientious struggle to leverage government for the good of many, whether in health care, the environment or the media, was remembering the 1988 legislation he shepherded, which created ITVS. Read more...