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Sundance 2015: Documentary or Journalism?

3 1/2 MinutesThe blurry lines between documentary filmmaking and journalism were a hot topic at this year's Sundance Film Festival. To find documentary films involving high stakes investigative work look no further than this year's Oscar nominees, Citizenfour or Virunga.

Filmmakers Laura Poitras (Citizenfour), Marc Silver (3 1/2 Minutes),  and Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison of Belief) debated the issue live at a Sundance panel discussion "Bringing Truths to Light," moderated by distinguished producer Bonnie Cohen (Catapult Film Fund). Read more...

Fair Use Question of the Month: Exhibiting Activist Letters

Image by Jim Yardly, Civil Rights, Demonstrations, "March to Freedom," Detroit, 1963Dear CMSI,

I work at a community library and we are planning an exhibit on civil rights demonstrations in the area during the 60s. I found some letters from an activist during that time stashed away in our archives. I think the letters would really add to the exhibit, but I’m worried about copyright and the only information I have about the writer is his first name. Is it okay to put the letters on display? Read more...

Sundance Panel Showcases Indies' Issues with Public TV

DocbustersWhether PBS and WNET will feature the TV series Independent Lens and POV in primetime on primary channels was brought up at the Sundance Film Festival Panel "DOCBUSTERS: Your Creative Vision and the Power of the PBS Audience," hosted by WNET and PBS on Saturday, January 24. Read more...

Fair Use Successes in Documentary Film: The Most Dangerous Man in America

The Most Dangerous Man in AmericaWhat difference does employing fair use make to a film?

Sometimes it means the difference between making a film and not making it.

Take “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” the Academy Award-nominated film about whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. “Knowing how to employ fair use meant that we could finish the film,” said producer/director Judith Ehrlich. Read more...

More Fun with the Public Domain

A Trip to the MoonIn a mostly-copyrighted world, it’s really hard for media makers to find work that’s genuinely public domain (uncopyrighted), but a new project is making it easy.

The collaborative online video marketplace Pond5 (you can upload your own footage to it and sell it there) is launching a library of public domain content that includes 10,000 video clips, 65,000 photos, thousands of sound recordings, and hundreds of 3D models. Read more...