Archival Storytelling – or how to use images and music created by others

Posted November 21st, 2008 by ingrid

Archival Storytelling: A Filmmaker’s Guide to Finding, Using, and Licensing Third-Party Visuals and Music is a new book from the hard working folk at Focal Press who publish so many essential books on filmmaking. Copyright and clearance is such a minefield for filmmakers who are frequently faced with the double whammy of complex legal rules and enormous licensing expenses. This book is a great resource because it surveys the entire landscape from ethical/creative considerations to fair use to changes in the digital age, and the focus is always on the importance of telling stories. Which is what it is all about after all!

Archival Storytelling features roundtable discussions with people like Rick Prelinger, Claire Aguilar, Stanley Nelson and Sam Green and conversations with experts in the field like my personal hero, intellectual property law activist Lawrence Lessig. The inclusion of people from different disciplines – historians, archivists, lawyers and filmmakers – is very useful in conveying the complexity of the subject but there is also lots of good practical advice to help you get your films made. In fact, it may even make you think differently about how you tell your stories. After all, being able to draw on and build upon the creative output of others is a creative act in itself, and can lead to all sorts of delightful possibilities. Just think of the way music is creatively juxtaposed with images, or how archive can bring history to life or give us new perspectives on social issues. Not to mention contemporary mashups and other creative products of digital convergence culture.

Archival Storytelling focuses on American intellectual property law but it does also deal with legal issues in other countries, for instance fair dealing in the United Kingdom. The authors have kindly allowed us to include an excerpt from a conversation with Hubert Best, a partner at the law firm Best & Soames in London and an internationally recognized expert in intellectual property and media law. Best talks about British law and shows why fair dealing in the UK is so different to fair use in the US.

Download the extract here: archival-storytelling-conversation-with-hubert-best

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