Legal help for filmmakers
Filmmakers looking for free legal advice now have some in the form of a free guide released last week by American University in Washington. "The Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use" is designed to help artists figure out which footage and other copyrighted material can be used without asking or paying for permission, and in which circumstances. Clearing such material can not only be prohibitively expensive to filmmakers working with a shoestring budget, it can also be practically impossible. Consider documentaries such as Super Size Me, about McDonald's, and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room--no company is likely to give permission if it is portrayed critically, so a documentarian must decide whether to self-censor or risk being sued. Nancy Buirski, CEO, founder and artistic director of Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, was among those in the artistic community asked to give feedback on a draft of the guide. She says it's an important step forward."They were absolutely right to do this," Buirski says. "I think this is going to be a critical help to documentary filmmakers who have been finding this terrain very difficult to navigate." The 12-page document is available for free download at www.centerforsocialmedia.org/fairuse.htm.
Ted Bleecker, 1944-2005
Carrboro artist Ted Bleecker died this month at the age of 61. Bleecker spent several years building Bleecker Street Studios by hand. The unique building on East Main Street opened as a gallery and studio space in 2003. Lung cancer caused his health to deteriorate and he put the building up for sale before his death. Tom Raynor, chairman of the Carrboro-based athletic shoe company Fleet Feet, says he plans to complete his purchase of the building this week. "Before Ted passed away, he and I talked about his vision for the building." Raynor says. "We're going to keep the gallery as it is and keep participating in the artwalk."