18 January 2005

It has turned our history into a commodity

Copyright law is kiling history, enabling the disappearance of photographic and video record. Eyes on the Prize, according to this article, can no longer be sold or broadcast anywhere.
"Why do you think the History Channel is what it is? Why do you think it's all World War II documentaries? It's because it's public-domain footage. So the history we're seeing is being skewed towards what's fallen into public domain," says filmmaker Robert Stone in the American University study.

Flahive at the NFB said that this pushes filmmakers to tell stories in more innovative ways. Animation, for example, is becoming a new vehicle for documentary-makers.

Else of Eyes on the Prize isn't as giving. "Would you rather see the footage of the actual attack on the [civil-rights] marchers at the bridge in Selma, Ala., in 1965, or would you rather see a re-enactment of that? There is no creative substitute for the real thing," he says.

The realm of digital media can be free and open, or it can be shielded from the public, and relegated to the dustbin of history.

The intent of copyright law was to encourage the creation of ideas, not curtail the dissemination of them. Greed has indeed trumped reason.