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The Revolution will be animated

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In 1813, Thomas Jefferson said: "He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine, as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me". My film is called "Sita Sings the Blues". It is a musical, personal, animated interpretation of the Ramayana, which is the ancient Indian epic with American Jazz and Blues music from the 1920’s sung by Annette Hanshaw, and it’s the greatest break up story ever told and yes I had many copyright issues working on this film. I moved to India, to Trivandrum, in 2002 following my then husband and I read my very first Ramayana there in the form of a comic book… and after 3 months I went to New York on a business trip and my husband dumped me by e-mail. And the Ramayana… it’s a big story, it’s an epic, it’s about lots of things… but the part of the story, that struck me was... Sita, who’s Rama’s wife and all the suffering that she does for her unconditional love for him… she just can’t let go of him… and this is a virtue in the story. Anyway, after my husband dumped me by email… I didn’t want to let go of him either and I would have really been hating myself had I not had the Ramayana to read or different versions of the Ramayana to read… so I read as many versions as I possibly could at that point… and I heard Annette Hanshaw for the first time staying on somebody’s sofa in New York. Her songs …..I felt were about exactly the same thing. All about “My Man”….”My Man done me wrong”… I love my man so much…..why is my man rejecting me? Boo hoo… I’m crying over my man…and that’s what I was doing. The music I used was from 1928 and it was supposed to be in the public domain. It was supposed to enter the public domain after 28 years I think… renewable for another 28 years, but then Congress started extending copyrights retroactively so songs I was using would probably never be in the public domain, which means that you’re not allowed to use them, build on them, sing them really. You’re not allowed to sing these songs. without paying licenses to corporations that are not regulated by the government so they can set any price that they want. In my case the price they set was about $220,000. Nina made a big mistake when she refused to get the rights to the music before she started the film. I was really surprised ‘cos she’s made other films and she knows how music works. You can’t just take the Beatles and say "oh I want to make a film with Beatles music…" and that’s what she did and it was a big mistake. People told her not to do it, but she fell in love with the music and I understand why…it’s great music. As someone who’s always really loved the idea of free speech… you know… I’m an artist myself just learning that my penalty for not being rich is that I can’t show people my work. Before I cleared the licenses on my film I was actually committing a federal crime punishable by up to five years in jail as well as fines, that was really shocking. You know…films are disintegrating in cans, film negatives…they can’t be preserved because no one can spend the money preserving them because it would violate copyright if they ever showed it. So they’re just disintegrating…. that’s our shared culture, it’s like …oh.. . corporation which owns the rights doesn’t feel like doing it, they’re not obligated to do it, film disintegrates. No one else can do it, that’s a crime in my opinion. I spent about $50,000 on licenses and the rights clearance house and probably the legal fees come to another $20,000, that doesn’t include my time. So you know… $60, 70,000 but it’s not fully cleared. Its legal but for every 5,000 units sold, that means DVDs or for sale downloads… and I’m not doing any for sale downloads so it means DVDs but for every 5,000 of them I have to pay them more. Or, whoever’s distributing it has to pay them more, my artist’s editon of the DVD is signed and numbered because I’m only releasing 4,999… because I’m not paying them again. Other distributors can pay them again, but I’ve already paid and so only 4,999 Nina Paley distributed DVDs of Sita Sings the blues. Before I got into animation I was a cartoonist. I did a weekly self syndicated strip starting when I was 20 called Nina’s Adventures and then in my mid-twenties I got a syndicated comic strip called Fluff with Universal Press Syndicate. That was a mainstream daily. I quit that, I just couldn’t deal with the repetitive nature of it and in 1998 I started making animated short films, festival films…purely for art. In 2002 I did another daily comic strip with a writer named Steven Hirsch. It’s called "Hots". It turns out I couldn’t deal with that either and so I retired from that as well. My ideas about copyright were I believed that it protected me… for some reason I believed that the value of the work, any monetary value that it had was the rights…the rights… the rights are so terribly valuable. None of my strips were particularly successful and most people have never heard of them. I have a studio, I have employees, I have rent to pay, I have expenses, I need to make money. And so for me to make money I have to make films that I can sell. I don’t do grants, I don’t do Hollywood money, I don’t do corporate money. All the money that I pay I make my films make and so for me my films have to show a profit. I can’t give away the films for free…it’s no way to make money. I get money to show my films on the internet and if I show my films for free nobody will want to pay me money to show the films on the internet. He does a lot of DVD sales. He goes to more film festivals than any other film maker I could really think of… and actually that’s also where he does a lot of his sales… as far as I know…is at film festivals. He goes and he’ll bring stuff and Nina does the same thing. I go to film festivals all over the world. It’s fun…and I think the main reason that I go to film festivals in person is actually to spread the message of free culture. The film spreads by itself, I don’t really have to go with it but I’m so interested in free culture now that this gives me a platform to talk about it. I want to thank you all for committing to…I hope you’ve committed to… an hour and twenty two minutes watching this film. The film is not alive until it is in people’s minds. Right now it’s just a big wad of plastic but in a few minutes it will come to life because you are all here, so thank you so much for bringing life to my and I really welcome your questions afterwards. For me it’s better to give it all away for many reasons. The more you control it, the less far it can go. So by giving it to the audience what’s happened is that the audience can spread it much, much farther than I or any of my hired agents could do. When the work spreads, it spreads with my name…’s supposed to, so if somebody is really interested in it they can find out more about me and the film and in many cases people that download the film and watch it streaming online actually want a physical token of it and they also want to connect with the artist. "So is it Public Relations for future projects?" No, it’s not Public Relations for future projects, its… how can I say it…the content is free, the container is expensive, so the more the content circulates freely… first of all the further it can go and then the more containers people actually buy. So I actually have no intention of making content for sale in the future again. This has been so effective…for me this model works. In the digital age content is an unlimited resource. People can just copy and copy and copy it at no cost to me, where as containers are a limited resource. in a perfect world I’d be able to give you all these for free, but I can’t because it actually costs me money to print the thing and to have the DVD pressed and all that sort of stuff… so this is actually a limited thing but the zeros and ones that it’s made from… there’s no limit to that. It just doesn’t cost me anything when people copy the film so the interesting phenomenon which is completely counter to what the media industries have been saying is that the more people see the film for free the more they want to buy these things, the more demand there is for film prints and what not. People said…"oh well…you’re complaining about copyright, but copyright’s what protects you. You shouldn’t complain about it, it’s good for you" and that made me look at what copyright was doing for me. I’d never really looked at it before… and I did and I read and I also thought about Annette Hanshaw’s songs and how obscure they are. I wondered why and realized that the reason they’re obscure is that nobody can share her work legally. Then I thought about my own work, and I thought…do I want to be obscure? Do I want nobody to see my stuff a hundred years from now? I licensed it under Creative Commons Share Alike license which is my favourite license. It really is a copyleft license because most creative commons licenses aren’t copyleft. What a Share Alike license means is that... nobody can ever copyright the film or its derivative works, so you can do whatever you want with it. You can sell it, you can copy it, you can distribute it, you can edit it, you can make derivative works… any of that stuff…but those works have to be released under the same license which means that no one can ever close off the film or its derivative work. So it’s like a no copyright zone on my work even though we still are in the copyright system. This film that you saw… you can download it for free online, even though it says copyright on this particular film print it’s now Creative Commons Share Alike licensed and you are free to copy and share and that has benefitted the film greatly actually… having the audience carry it along. As far as the Creative Commons Share Alike license that Nina released the film under, that is definitely something new. For me, working with a director who has gone that route, I understand how a lot of directors wouldn’t like it… or would just think that that’s crazy, but I think Nina has definitely shown that the process can work. My sources of income are individual donations, payments which are also technically donations, payments from distributors and broadcasters, people who use the work and want to share some of that income with me, sales merchandise like DVDs and T-shirts and public speaking. That last one public speaking is interesting because even if I got no money from all those other sources people sharing the film allows me to command more money as a speaker. You know…I’m not in this for money… I’m in this for love. Most artists are in this for love. I also need to eat so I love money… I mean…it’s a different kind of love but I’m pro-money and very pro-income for artists but really I’m pro-art I serve the art, that’s the life I’ve chosen, that’s my job. The art comes first …and this is just killing art. there’s so much culture that’s been lost, it’s heartbreaking ! Have you heard her "I want to be bad" ? Oh no….what’s it called? If it’s naughty to rouge your lips, shake your shoulders and twist your hips Let a lady confess, I want to be bad" She does it in that Helen Kane voice I should probably sing the copying as a pep song. At some point I’m going to animate to this – do you want to hear it? Copying isn’t theft. Stealing a thing leaves one less left. Copying it makes one thing more. That’s what copying’s for. Copying is not theft. If I copy yours you have it too. One for me and one for you. That’s what copies can do. If I steal your bicycle you have to take the bus, but if I just copy it there’s one for each of us. Making more of a thing, that is what we call copying. Sharing ideas with everyone. That’s why copying is fun !!

Video Details

Duration: 16 minutes and 5 seconds
Year: 2010
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Marine LORMANT Sebag
Director: Marine LORMANT Sebag
Views: 171
Posted by: unegugusse on Jan 21, 2010

Dans "La Révolution sera animée", la réalisatrice de documentaires Marine LORMANT Sebag présente les points de vue multiples sur le droit d'auteur à l'ère numérique. Le personnage principal du film est Nina Paley, une dessinatrice et animatrice américaine qui a produit un long métrage intitulé Sita Sings the Blues (Sita chante le blues). Nina a rencontré de nombreux problèmes de copyright avec les chansons qu'elle a utilisés, de la chanteuse des années 1920 'Annette Hanshaw. Cette expérience lui fit comprendre qu'elle ne voulait pas que la même chose arrive à son film. Elle a finalement utilisé une licence Creative Commons Share Alike afin de libérer son travail et le présenter au monde.
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