Sunday, March 4, 2007

Documentary Filmmakers Find Freedom From Clearance Hurdles

One of the most dauntingeconomic hurdles for documentary filmmakers now has a solution. Media/Professional Insurance is teaming with top intellectual propertylawyers and the Stanford Law School Fair Use Project to enable filmmakers to insure against claims arising out of "fair use" of copyrighted material.

Media/Professional Insurance, a leader in media and entertainmentliability coverage, has developed a policy endorsement that explicitly allows documentarians to rely on "fair use" without jeopardizing coverage. Insurers and film distributors typically require producers to obtain specific permission for use of copyrighted material in a film. Licensing copyrighted material, however, can be prohibitively expensive, or impossible, for new or independent filmmakers -- an economic barrier thatseriously hinders freedom of expression. The Fair Use Doctrine provides that use for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research is not an infringement of copyright.

"Documentary films are an important source of education, commentary and criticism. Rigidly requiring licenses or releases in all cases does not give filmmakers the flexibility to take advantage of 'fair use' inappropriate situations," said Leib Dodell, president of Media/Professional Insurance. "This initiative makes 'fair use' work in the real world of independent filmmakers."

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