Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Free Nina Paley!

We've written a couple of times about Nina Paley's amazing animated film Sita Sings the Blues, which features vocals by Annette Hanshaw.

Sita's gotten terrific reviews, and just recently the equivalent of an 42-Million-Thumbs-Up from Roger Ebert. Now the tough news. Turns out that while the Hanshaw recordings that Nina used are in the public domain, several of the songs themselves are not. (You may recall that we ran into this last month when we tried to locate all the sheet music online. See the Sita Sings the Blues Songbook that we've set up on Delicious.)

Nina says they're being Mean to Me. Am I Blue? You Bet.

So Nina is being held hostage by the copyright owners, and the moolah they're trying extort is completely out of line with the budget of an indie filmmaker. You can read and hear more about her plight by checking out this story today on our sister site BoingBoing. Better yet, check out the call for help on Nina's blog. She's looking for angels, attorneys, and people with connections to both.

Now if Warren Buffett turns out to be an Annette Hanshaw fan, too, I think this can all be resolved with the stroke of a pen...That's All!


Anonymous said...

Ah, I SO know how she feels...I was going to do an entire CD of Ruth Etting songs. Songs that essentially haven't been done since they were recorded. When I check out the copyright isssues, think a I would have to get mechanical rights to one or two, I found out I would have to buy rights to ALL of them! The cost was absurdly high, considering that the people who wrote the songs were all gone...most of the rights were held by the "harry fox agency".
Needless to say, I decided not to do the CD. It's a shame, really. Particularly since the people benefiting from those extended copyrights are, in most cases, people who had NOTHING to do with the creation or popularity of the songs. (by the way, you can blame Walt Disney for the outrageous copyright extensions now on the books).

Gary said...

The way I heard it, Craig, is that Disney heard that you were going to do a CD of Ruth Etting songs and that's what tipped them off. So I'm blaming you.

Anyway, it makes for a better story.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you're kinda right...Walt returned from the grave as a Zombie and visited me late one night. He totally scared me off putting out the Cd of Etting songs...and he warned me NEVER to even THINK about writing a song about Mickey Mouse.
(I've already started writing one)

Nina Paley said...

When I check out the copyright isssues, think a I would have to get mechanical rights to one or two, I found out I would have to buy rights to ALL of them!

Oh my god, I'd never heard of that tactic. They can do that? It's so...abusive.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that copyright law was every intended to take advantage of the artist and creator...and make the middleman rich...but that's the way it has evolved. It prevents artists from doing other people's songs and thereby hurting everyone.

It's a sick system right now. Check out the Creative Commons License.

RichS said...

Sita Sings the Blues is going to be broadcast on New York PBS station WNET Channel 13 on Saturday March 7 at 10:45pm on the series Reel 13. They will also stream it on their website starting Feb 26th.

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