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Not singing the blues anymore.
February 27, 2009 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Nina Paley's animated film, Sita Sings the Blues, has been mentioned here several times before. It's a retelling of the classic Indian epic Ramayana, featuring the 1920s jazz recordings of singer Annette Hanshaw, interspersed with the story of Nina's own troubled marriage-- and despite critical accolades, it's been languishing due to copyright issues surrounding the 80-year-old Hanshaw songs. But things seem to be finally looking up for Ms. Paley: she has worked out a distribution plan, the movie will be broadcast on New York PBS station WNET on March 7, and the whole thing is finally available online, at thirteen.org.

Higher quality versions will be available soon. The film is, appropriately, being released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License; according to Nina "you will be able to watch the film on your computer, make DVDs and distribute them, and hold public screenings (the film will circulate online in high-resolution formats appropriate for screenings). Your activities can be commercial or non-commercial, that’s up to you."
posted by bookish (30 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
Surely you mean Mefi's Own Nina Paley.
posted by dersins at 1:57 PM on February 27, 2009


"The selected item is not currently availbale"

Is this just because I'm not in the USA?
posted by chillmost at 1:57 PM on February 27, 2009


"available" auch nicht
posted by chillmost at 1:58 PM on February 27, 2009


So it appears there WAS a way to get this into distribution with permission from the copyright holders after all...
posted by Aquaman at 2:04 PM on February 27, 2009


So where are the torrents?
posted by chunking express at 2:08 PM on February 27, 2009


Oh man oh man oh man!
posted by Foam Pants at 2:10 PM on February 27, 2009


Nina Paley compares herself to Rosa Parks
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:12 PM on February 27, 2009


From the distribution plan link: She's paying a (bargain) $50,000 to use the songs, but for every 5,000 home video units sold (DVD or download sales or on-demand sales) she must pay another $750 per song, meaning $8,250, plus middleman fees (lawyer or negotiator). But making additional promotional copies (for reviewers, festival committees, journalists, etc) is free.

So she will be making one DVD pressing of 4,999 copies, and she will place promotional files of the entire film - at all resolutions, including broadcast-quality, HD, and film-quality image sequences - online at archive.org and as many mirror hosts as volunteer to share it. She will license it either as Creative Commons Share-Alike, or some equivalent of the GNU/Linux license, to keep others from copyrighting any part of the film (excluding music).

In short, she's still paying a chunk of money, but is hoping happy fans will pay her back, through fund-raising screenings, direct donations, or purchasing merchandise.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:21 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Excellent.
posted by homunculus at 2:25 PM on February 27, 2009


Surely you mean Mefi's Own Nina Paley.

She showed up in a thread about her once (just like the Woz did). That's the sum total of her involvement with the site.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:29 PM on February 27, 2009


Heh.
posted by dersins at 2:32 PM on February 27, 2009


*YAY* - I can see it here down under!
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:36 PM on February 27, 2009


Nina Paley compares herself to Rosa Parks

But she is also a woman like Rosa Parks
posted by Greg Nog at 2:44 PM on February 27, 2009


Uburoivas - I'm still siding with my retcon theory of MeFi's Ownness, though cortex had a complex ranking system, but I think his plan would involve some fancy info-graphics and graphs to understand it all.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:46 PM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


But she is also a woman like Rosa Parks

Her Civil Right to exploit somebody else's work for her film was denied!
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:51 PM on February 27, 2009


If you aren't familiar with Annette Hanshaw, correct that situation.
posted by acrasis at 3:00 PM on February 27, 2009


All I can say, is SQUEE. And the whole story of Sita's creation should be written up and inserted into the textbooks of every animation class, as a warning/inspiration.
posted by emjaybee at 3:20 PM on February 27, 2009


So where are the torrents?

If I understand the plan, high rez copies will be place on archive.org on March 7 (the air date for the broadcast version.)

I started watching the stream this morning, the realized I was late for work. :-(
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:25 PM on February 27, 2009


Kraftmatic, all I got from your link is that she was using Rosa Parks as an example to counter the argument that she should just suck it up and obey the rules because they are the rules. She chose Rosa Parks in part because the copyright issues faced by Eyes on the Prize, a documentary about the civil rights movement, resonated particularly with her experience. She also points out herself that "there are innumerable differences between my situation and Rosa Parks’."

Also, "exploit somebody else's work for her film"? She's using recordings that are 80 years old, and are themselves in the public domain; everybody involved in their production-- including the writers of the compositions, the musicians, and Annette Hanshaw herself-- are dead. The only people who stand to gain are the corporations who now own the rights to the compositions, and I think a much better case can be made for them "exploiting" somebody else's work than Paley. Who is, by the way, paying thousands of dollars so that she can give this film away for free.
posted by bookish at 3:32 PM on February 27, 2009 [18 favorites]


She also points out herself that "there are innumerable differences between my situation and Rosa Parks’."

Yeah, and that would be pretty much everything. She also paints herself as a victim of "immoral and unconstitutional laws" which is just hysterically stupid. It's nice that people are going to be able to see the film more easily now, but this sort of grandstanding only underscores her utter lack of professionalism and sense of scope.

The only people who stand to gain are the corporations who now own the rights to the compositions

OMG CORPORATIONS DESTROY THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by dhammond at 4:21 PM on February 27, 2009


Another SQUEE. With the hype I was sort of prepared for a little disappointment. But it definitely lives up to the hype. It is wonderful!!! Thank you so much for posting this!!
posted by hecho de la basura at 4:43 PM on February 27, 2009


She also paints herself as a victim of "immoral and unconstitutional laws" which is just hysterically stupid.

Immoral, I don't know. Morality is a social construction which means little when society is so deeply divided on a question like this. It seems the argument for the law being unconsitutional more concretely debatable. The United States consitution provides for limited copyright "to promote the progress of science and useful arts". The arguments that it has long since gone far beyond any point where it could benefit such progress seem convincing to me, and it is incredible that anyone familiar with the subject could simply dismiss them all as "stupid". So as usual when this general discussion comes up I am torn between my instinct to call people like you similar names in response, and a more generous impluse to recognize that not everyone with crazy ideas about copyright law is entirely idiotic. Mark Twain is I believe the canonical example to the contrary...

OMG CORPORATIONS DESTROY THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

...but it remains to be seen if any still live today.
posted by sfenders at 4:48 PM on February 27, 2009


A recommendation: It's a lot more fun to watch the film than argue self-righteously about copyright law and ethics.

It's really a wonderful thing.
posted by neroli at 8:39 AM on February 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm glad they worked it all out.

And, yes, annoyed by the "Rosa Parks" self-comparison, but wevs.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:22 AM on February 28, 2009


I'm going to ignore the 'Rosa Parks' debate (although it did border on uncouth for her to make the comparison), and just say the film is very, very good.

Heck, I'd watch 1.5 hours of just the paper cut-outs arguing over the details of Hindu epics.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 5:32 PM on February 28, 2009


It's a lot more fun to watch the film than argue self-righteously about copyright law and ethics.

Always.
posted by wendell at 6:48 PM on February 28, 2009


Thanks Nina! I enjoyed the heck out of that.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:47 PM on March 2, 2009


downloads are available at archive.org
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:14 AM on March 3, 2009


More download options, including torrents. Full DVD torrents to come soon (so the page says at present).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:17 PM on March 12, 2009


Nina Sings the Copyright Song
posted by homunculus at 12:15 PM on March 19, 2009


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