America’s Most Thwarted Home Video

The other day I read an interesting entry on JD Lasica’s weblog Darknet in which Lasica describes his attempt to put together a home movie “just for showing off to family or friends.” The problems he faced were not technical, but legal, as he wanted to splice into his project a few seconds of video from a handful of movies. He could have simply inserted the clips without any fuss, and nobody who cared would have been the wiser, but Lasica, who wrote a book about the “personal media revolution,” decided to play the game according to the rules of the media oligopoly. He sent formal requests to the seven major studios that own the movies.

Now, who in their right mind would have a problem with someone wanting to use a few seconds of film footage for a home movie? Apparently the movie studios would. Here is how things shook out:

Studio Request Response
Warner Bros. 10-second snippets from Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters
15 seconds of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 45 seconds of Ice Age REQUEST DENIED
Walt Disney 30 seconds of Mary Poppins REQUEST DENIED
Universal Studios 39 seconds of The Mummy REQUEST DENIED
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment A few seconds of Ice Age Request denied, then granted
MGM 10 seconds of All Dogs Go to Heaven
10 seconds of Beach Blanket Bingo
No reply
Paramount 10 seconds of Forrest Gump No reply

Granted, Lasica was baiting these companies. But, really, isn’t it ridiculous that, as Lasica notes, “Hollywood studios demand that we ask for permission to borrow from their works – and then they deny our requests as a matter of course”? Only one of these studios, Columbi TriStar, had the good sense and decency to acknowledge fair use. The others don’t look arrogant or overly protective as much as frightened—scared of the effect that all this new personal technology will continue to have on their bottom line.

Read JD Lasica’s full weblog entry with all the gory details: When the studios won’t give permission.

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