Understanding where the copyright lines are drawn these days is hard enough and what does or doesn’t constitute “fair use” in the modern copyright landscape makes the whole issue even more confusing.
Basically, copyright ensures the creator of any intellectual property the right to be credited for it, profit from it and determine how it is used; while fair use allows those using the property certain freedoms, like making copies for private use or educational purposes.
Fair Use also applies when the use of the original work doesn’t interfere with the copyright holder's right to exploit the work – and that’s where we get into the grey areas.
In days gone by, an author retained the rights to his creations for his lifetime and up to 50 years after his death –- at which time it went into the Public Domain where anybody could use or reproduce it as they saw fit.
This kept everybody happy until the Disney Corporation decided it would suffer catastrophic harm if such brands as Mickey Mouse could be used by the rest of us. Hollywood studios joined in the complaint and a compliant US Congress sided with the House of Mouse –- extending the life of a copyright while beginning an ongoing process of proscribing what constitutes fair use.
So it seems fitting that guerrilla filmmakers have targeted Disney in particular as they push their fair use rights to the limit.
Last week, the Sundance Festival debuted “Escape From Tomorrow”, a feature shot entirely at Disney World in Florida without the knowledge or permission of anyone at Disney.
Whether Disney will sue filmmaker Randy Moore or block the film’s release remains to be seen. A year ago, they didn’t go after pop artist Banksy, whose film “Exit Through The Gift Shop” clandestinely filmed scenes at the theme park, perhaps in the belief that the negative publicity wasn’t worth it.
And Moore doesn’t believe his work has done anything to harm any of Disney’s trademarks or infringe their multiple revenue streams either.
Either way, what this might represent is a change of attitude among those who have long been seen only as the consumers of media and targets of advertising.
Perhaps, they have had enough of piracy lawsuits, digital locks, commercials at the gas pump and urinal and other intrusions on their right to consume media how and when THEY wish –- since they are an equal partner in the transaction.
It would seem some have begun answering Banksy’s call (image above) to stop being passive in the face of insistent corporations and start making them accept your individual human rights.
A year ago, filmmakers the Daws Brothers, posted their own clandestinely shot film set in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion on Youtube.
It’s worth a look, and might just be someday acknowledged as the moment when the creatives in our industry began pushing back the over reach and heavy handedness of the executive offices.
Enjoy Your Sunday.
Missing In The Mansion
And the making of…