Stanford mixes lawyers, insurance to shield documentaries ... Where not to open overseas ... Lawyer feels civil/military tug.
|March 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM
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STANFORD MIXES LAWYERS, INSURANCE TO SHIELD DOCUMENTARIES When “ Bling: A Planet Rock” comes out this fall at the Tribeca Film Festival, the film will be the first documentary distributed with the assistance of a new program by Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project. Executive Director Anthony Falzone, a former Bingham McCutchen litigator, said the “fair use” doctrine of the copyright law has been critical to filmmakers who rely on the use of copyrighted material in their works. In recent years, however, filmmakers have come under increasing pressure to pay big licensing fees to copyright holders. And, he added, they have faced overly aggressive enforcement of copyrights � making distribution financially prohibitive or impossible because they can’t get insurance to cover them in case of suits. Creators may have been protected in making the film, but “when it came to exercising the rights, it came apart in the marketplace,” Falzone said. In a collaboration with Lawrence Lessig, founder and director of Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, Falzone has teamed up with Media/Professional Insurance and intellectual property lawyers from private practice. Together, they’re providing filmmakers with access to insurance coverage and legal representation in the event they are sued for copyright infringement. The Fair Use Project’s documentary film initiative was announced in late February at the International Documentary Association’s 25th annual celebration of Academy Award documentary nominees in Beverly Hills. Stanford has committed to providing pro bono legal representation to certain filmmakers who comply with fair use practices, Falzone said. Where the university lacks resources, private practice IP specialists will be available to defend claims at reduced rates. Michael Donaldson, past president of the International Documentary Association, serves as one of the program’s private practice advisers. Donaldson, an IP attorney, said he can help guide the center in case selection. His experience includes, for example, clearance work for “ The Good Shepherd,” the 2006 movie that starred Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie. “Bling: A Planet Rock” � a documentary about the effect the hip-hop culture’s glorification of diamonds and violence has had on the people of Sierra Leone � has so far steered clear of trouble, Falzone said. “And we intend to keep it that way.”
� Petra Pasternak
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