Blogumentary, a film about the emergence of blogging that was finished over a year ago but not distributed widely, was posted to Google Video late last week by its producer and director, Chuck Olsen of Minnesota Stories. Why did it take so long to get online?
There’s a fair amount of copyrighted material in the film, particularly music. This is what’s prevented me from putting it online, trying to sell DVDs, or even promoting it all that much. Now, in the YouTube era, I’m not as worried. So I’m taking a chance
and putting the whole thing online, with the disclaimer that it’s
intended for non-profit educational use only.
Rights clearance has become the biggest hurdle facing documentary film production. That great family scene that marks the emotional high point in your film? If there’s a television on in the background, and if you can’t clear the rights to the show, you have to cut it. And if a documentary wants to make the jump from TV or DVD to online distribution, all the rights agreements would have to be renegotiated.
One of the funniest moments in the film is during the credits, when Olsen lists clips from CBS News as “Courtesy of Fair Use.” Olsen’s argument is that he’s making it available only for educational, non-commercial use, but I doubt that would hold up if a rightsholder complained. Eyes on the Prize, the acclaimed civil rights documentary, had to cease distribution when their original rights agreements expired.
In the meantime, watch it online while you still can — it’s a wonderfully accessible and entertaining look into the rise of blogging.