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Eyes on the Screen
January 26, 2005 4:59 PM   Subscribe

Eyes on the Screen : As was noted here previously, due to issues over clearance rights, 1987's ground-breaking Civil Rights Movement documentary Eyes on the Prize hasn't been available for ten years. Downhill Battle is doing something about it: "On February 8th help us bring this film back to a nationwide audience. Download the film today and organize a screening in your city or town."
posted by webmutant (19 comments total)

 
Technically wouldn't this be conspiracy to commit copyright violation? Possibly RICO-eligible. Not saying it's a bad idea, but just a warning to participants.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 5:22 PM on January 26, 2005


Webmutant -- thanks for the info. I actually have the entire documentary set on VHS. My only problem is that I no longer hace a VCR! Will try to remedy that and screen at least a couple episodes on 2-8.
posted by tidecat at 5:44 PM on January 26, 2005


I would love to see the copyright owners throwing RICO and DMCA at this, just to watch the sudden retreat when the AP starts running "Companies try to ban civil rights film" stories. Great fun.

This is video that needs to be seen and taught in schools. It's probably the best primer on the US Civil Rights movement, book or film. It's shocking to hear that it's not available on anything but mouldering video tapes lingering out there.
posted by dw at 5:53 PM on January 26, 2005


The AP wouldn't run any such stories. The major news media would totally ignore it if that happened.
posted by Potsy at 6:13 PM on January 26, 2005


And 6KB/second download speed right now! Woo hoo!
posted by twsf at 6:44 PM on January 26, 2005


Sometimes breaking the law is a good thing. Like, for example, when the incessant battle for perpetual copyright on the part of the media giants has, as collateral damage, the wanton destruction of an unimaginable amount of our cultural heritage which will have turned to dust before the copyright expires.

I digitize historic documents for a living. Some of these may or may not be under copyright. But that unpublished 1876 diary might be gone before the life of the author plus 70 years expires (that's assuming that copyright terms don't get extended in the interim, which is hardly likely), so fuck you, Disney, your stupid mouse can suck it — I'm going to digitize that thing now, while it's still around and still legible. Come and get me, Kopyright Kops.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:46 PM on January 26, 2005


This is a great use for the internets.
posted by caddis at 7:02 PM on January 26, 2005


Scheduling an educational documentary on the night of Mardi Gras guarantees a large turnout.
posted by BoringPostcards at 7:22 PM on January 26, 2005


Downloading at 2KB/Second for me right now. Anyone know a mirror?
posted by LarryC at 8:00 PM on January 26, 2005


And torrent it, too, guys. Much better chance of spreading it that way.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:03 PM on January 26, 2005


(and then he reads the link... d-oh!)
posted by five fresh fish at 8:03 PM on January 26, 2005


so fuck you, Disney, your stupid mouse can suck it — I'm going to digitize that thing now, while it's still around and still legible. Come

Fuck the person who wrote the diary too!
posted by thirteen at 8:51 PM on January 26, 2005


That's a little too necro to be healthy, man.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:30 PM on January 26, 2005


tidecat: Will try to remedy that and screen at least a couple episodes on 2-8.

Of course if you don't restrict the attendance at your screening it will be a copyright violation too... Just sayin'.
posted by Chuckles at 10:07 PM on January 26, 2005


This is one of the most useful pieces of net activism that I have seen in a while. I just wish it would be widely torrented or something as the download speeds seem a bit sad. I’m sure I was not alone in reading the stories about how this wonderful series has been denied to the world because of the increasing encroachment of a content industry enforced, extreme interpretation of copyright. This is a major global issue, but I seriously doubt it will get any better – only mass disrespect of this ‘law’ (they can’t put everyone in jail, etc) by educators, filmmakers and ordinary citizens offers a way forward. It’s actually not a new problem – I spoke with an American teacher about fifteen years ago who lamented the fact that many useful documentaries and educational tools purchased by his district at great cost on ¾” U-Matic videotape (a lovely format!) and 16mm cinefilm (even better!) which were no longer available (probably for rights reasons) could not be copied to VHS, even at the teacher’s own expense! One shudders to think of the treasures that have already been lost to the lobbyists of the Mouse Kingdom of Filth.
posted by The Salaryman at 1:29 AM on January 27, 2005


Fuck the person who wrote the diary too!

She's dead and childless. And if she would have had any objections, I suspect they would have been on privacy grounds (with which I'm somewhat sympathetic — but the law says privacy rights expire when the rights-holder does) and not fiscal ones.

Do you object to the publication of Samuel Pepys's diary? Pepys wrote at a time when copyright was perpetual for unpublished works. Surely his now-innumerable heirs are entitled to some sort of compensation, eh?

(Interestingly, if she'd published the thing, it would now be in the public domain.)

On a related note, the US Copyright Office is now soliciting comments related to the orphan works problem. Hopefully we will see some reform of this sort of thing soon.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:07 AM on January 27, 2005


I would love to see the copyright owners throwing RICO and DMCA at this, just to watch the sudden retreat when the AP starts running "Companies try to ban civil rights film" stories. Great fun.

I don't know about that. It might be horrible PR if it were only the copyright holders of the individual clips within EOTP threatening to sue, while Blackside (copyright owner for EOTP) more or less gave tacit permission for this to be done. ("We can't stop the copyright holders of the individual clips from suing you, but we won't.")

However, that's not what's happening. Blackside itself is strongly opposed to the screenings [1], and given that it is, I'm not so sure that public opinion would be on the side of the people arranging the screenings.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:40 PM on January 28, 2005


But: UPDATE: we have taken down the torrent links to these videos at the request of lawyers for Blackside, Inc.
posted by pracowity at 1:55 PM on January 28, 2005


I'd like to offer some thoughts from the 'other side' of this whole debacle. I'm connected to the rightsholders for Eyes on the Prize; I'm nephew to the late Henry Hampton, who made the film. I don't own the rights myself and don't see any income from Eyes on the Prize either way. I was disappointed that BoingBoing and Downhill Battle didn't feel 'our side' of the story was worth posting or linking to, or that it was worth even checking with the rightsholders before starting this whole project. In any case, my take on this is here in case anyone is interested in another point of view. Thank you very much for your interest in Eyes on the Prize, whatever your opinion on the current hullabaloo!
posted by jbzimmerman at 2:48 PM on January 28, 2005


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