OUTSIDE FREE CINEMA
Hoo-boy, is this a good movie. It's a debate
at USC between author and professor Lawrence Lessig and MPAA Chairman
Jack Valenti (pictured at left). Marvel as Valenti screams,
gesticulates, podium-pounds, insults, bullies, evades and sputters in an
attempt to cover up his position's lack of principle, while Lessig
calmly lays out reasoned arguments and empirical evidence. Valenti's
position on the United States Constitution? "Forget the intervening
words!" You have to see it to believe it. Doesn't it mean something that
the most qualified person on Earth to defend present copyright practices
can't do it convincingly? The debate
is in Real Player, 1 hour, 28 minutes.
(In addition to the little snippets sprinkled throughout this site,
Free Cinema has made a 6-minute mp3 excerpt of the
debate--it includes Valenti's priceless "intervening words" quote.)
There was also a debate between Lessig and Valenti at Harvard.
Real Player; 1 hour, 39 minutes.
This already legendary Flash presentation
by, yes, Lawrence Lessig is at once a concise education and a call to
action. It was designed for an audience of hackers, so it leans toward
software issues, but for the most part it is newbie-friendly. The date
Lessig presented this talk, July 24, 2002, will probably go down in
history. File takes a while to load, but worth it. 44 minutes.
the origin and adventures of the Creative Commons licensing project."
The White Stripes and Steven McDonald of Redd Kross kick off this
entertaining Flash presentation of the Creative Commons licensing
schemes. As fun and educational as "Schoolhouse Rock."
Contributions and the Media
Ever wonder just how much media corporations
pay politicians to endorse copyright extremism (among other extremisms)?
Guess what? It's a lot. "John McCain is the largest recipient of media
company money in Congress. He received close to $7 million. Trent Lott
is college classmates with the President of NAB [National Association of
Broadcasters]. And NAB is one of the highest contributors to political
campaigns. Since 1993 through the middle of , media corporations
have given $75 million in campaign contributions to candidates for
federal office." The Democracy Now radio program dishes the dirty
details that, strangely, don't get reported very much in the mainstream
media. Real Player, 52:59.
A while back, Rick Prelinger
had a huge archive of films he calls "ephemera," stuff like the civil
defense film "Duck and Cover," social-engineering films like "Are You
Popular?" and thousands of other priceless artifacts of our culture. One
day he decided to start putting all of them on the Web. For free. No
restrictions. You can view them, you can download them (in high-quality
MPEG2), you can copy them, you can share them. But most of all you can
make new stuff out of them.
(And what happened to Prelinger Archives' income when it started giving
stuff away? It increased.)
"Come on to Freedom"
DJ Socrates has created the official Free
Cinema anthem, called "Come on to Freedom (I Want to Feel)." You can
download the MP3 file here and listen to it while you surf this site, so
as to enhance the tingling excitement you experience while
contemplating freedom and movies joined together for the first time. In
the spirit of Open Source, Socrates recently made the individual music
tracks available so that you can download them and do your own remix,
then upload that remix for others to hear. Click here to get
The Future of Ideas by
Lessig's name comes up a lot on this site.
It's unavoidable--he sounded an alarm many of us are barely starting to
hear right now. The Future of Ideas
is smart, readable and revelatory. There's precious little about film
production technique in it, but if you are a filmmaker who cares about
freedom, then The Future of Ideas
may be the most important filmmaking book you'll ever read.
Cathedral & the Bazaar by Eric
Yeah, yeah, it's about hackers, written by
a hacker. Get over it. Filmmakers have a lot to learn from what those
nerds have accomplished. In the past two decades, independent filmmaking
has managed to take itself from being dependent on companies like Warner
Bros. to being dependent on companies like Miramax (which is to say, Disney). In
the same period, open-source hackers created their own truly
independent world. They're happier, their creative work is better, and
the lives of software users such as you are better, too, even if you
don't know why. If you can get past the occasional geekspeak in this
book, you'll see that Eric Raymond is offering an instruction manual on
how to free yourself.
"Share Alike" license used by Free Cinema films was created by this
non-profit organization, which is dedicated to "promoting the creative
reuse of intellectual works." If you are down with Free Cinema, you are
down with Creative Commons, an umbrella organization bringing together
all of the arts in an attempt to catch up with the progress made by our
compatriots in the Open Source and Free Software movements. There are
many different ways to look at copyright -- Free Cinema and Standard
Valenti Dogma being only two of them -- and Creative Commons has
licenses available to address a great number of these perspectives. If
you want to share something you've created, but you don't want to do it
the Free Cinema way, you should look at the various options offered by
Creative Commons. Also you should give them money.
for the Public Domain
The name says it all. A huge collection of
essays, links, news and other useful information about that most foreign
of concepts, the public domain. "Center for
the Public Domain is a non-profit foundation that supports the growth of
a healthy and robust public domain by establishing programs, grants, and
partnerships in the areas of academic research, medicine, law,
education, media, technology, and the arts."
The EFF leads the fight against "government and
corporate practices that threaten to deny our civil liberties in
cyberspace." Have no doubt -- the freedom you enjoy right here right now
on the Internet wouldn't be what it is without the EFF. You should give
Here's where the modern movement started.
Richard Stallman said, Hey, what if software gave the user freedom?
Everyone had a nice laugh at his expense, and then the world changed.
Free Cinema follows in Free Software's footsteps. You should give them
Source is an offshoot of Free Software that differs in ways that you'll
have to discover for yourself.
The Open Source and Free Software communities consider each other
allies in the same struggle against prorietary software (software such
as Microsoft's, Adobe's or Apple's that doesn't reveal its source code
and allows the user virtually no freedom to modify or redistribute it).
You should give them money.
"News for nerds. Stuff that matters." This
popular website introduces several new discussions a day about issues
that often relate to copyright extremism and other matters of Free
Cinema concern. It is heavily populated by Linux users and coders, so
some discussions are well above the average person's head. (Random
example: "LibUFO is a C++ widget set for OpenGL, currently in alpha."
Yikes.) But Slashdot is a reliable place to find more accessible
discussions every day. (Ex: "RIAA nominated for 'Internet Villian of the
Year'"). If there is an issue related to Free Software, Open Source or
copyright extremism, there's probably a discussion about it right now on
FILM SITES THAT CONSIDER COPYRIGHT FROM A PERSPECTIVE THAT IS NOT THE
STANDARD VALENTI DOGMA
Are there any? Please let us know. The
independent film sites we've seen tend to adopt the Standard Valenti
Dogma by default. We'd at least link here to some magazines, but
the indie-film mags, when they consider copyright at all, tend to have
an attorney write an article
that assumes the reader is only interested in aggressive protection of
copyright (this is likely the result of assigning an
intellectual-property lawyer to write about copyright law).
The absence of indie film sites that endorse and encourage copyright
moderation indicates just how much catching up indie film has to do in
this area. (The number of sites about freedom in the software field
probably number in the thousands.) If you create one, we'll link to it
"I voted to execute him."
--Jack Valenti on the
Skylarov, who was jailed for cracking the Adobe eBook Reader. From
the USC debate.
not ultimately charged, and his employer was found not guilty
by a jury.)