Thursday, 19 February 2015

footage availability - the opening and shutting doors

It's always a bit of a surprise at a time when there's a tendency especially among producers to regard everything as almost instantly available, that there are moments when it most definitely isn't. The current BBC wrangle with the British royal family about access to coverage of Prince Charles' life in previous documentaries on the grounds of copyright - for which read "control" - is a good example of archive only apparently being accessible. If you can get to it - in the name of the common good and fair comment - you might not always be able to broadcast it, especially if you're a "state" institution like the BBC open to having the levers of power applied. And if you're not, there are still ways to try to stop you even getting access to it because the footage might reside in the BBC archive. It's an arbitrary and very contentious restriction, even though here the issue appears to have been resolved through "channels". It's a cautionary tale nonetheless.
   This is especially interesting now not just because the row has pushed archive into the media limelight, even if only as a stalking horse for darker editorial concerns at the Palace, but because the argument has come at a time when an up and coming supplier of stock footage like Stockeon has gone out of business altogether. Part of the movement of enterprises offering all kinds of content - music, stills, graphics and sound effects as well as footage - this adventurous supplier seems to have lost out through lack of investment in its development. Its material has gone offline - I hope not for ever because it had some very promising contemporary coverage of diverse locations and activities - but as a private enterprise not easily controlled by any state, it is subject to the same vagaries of the market as any other commercial venture. Its demise waves a warning flag at the all too easy Google-driven assumption that everything is available everywhere.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

copyright and music in online video

An interesting article about underlying rights in video content online with special reference to
YouTube clips is on the Reelseo site:

It tackles the issue of the double standards of producers only too keen to protect the rights of their projects while happily plundering the content of others they find online. The words: "Copyright protection has certainly changed from a practical standpoint since the age of the internet." can't be contradicted but the dilemma is perfectly put: "While the laws protecting creators have strengthened since 1996, the practicality and ease of using copyrighted images and videos makes protecting your work a constant challenge. There are so many questions that need answers like “if I use a Google image in a video or in a blog post, what types of ramifications might there be?"

So often the underlying rights are ignored - and LinkedIn is still full of producers asking for advice about which rules to observe in using "found" material. There's no question, people are not becoming better informed, so it's not just still but probably more than ever a digital honeypot that can be a trap for the unwary!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

any colour you like as long as it's black - and white

A good article about an underused resource at the US National Archives:

Coming from the National Archives' "Prologue" magazine, the piece documents the Ford Motor Company's Motion Picture Laboratories. In the thirties, FMC was one of the largest movie production and distribution operations, producing thousands of reels of "Americana in Motion" that covered the early 20th Century. They are now held in the film vault of the US National Archives. Over 95% of the collection is in the public domain and available to view and copy.