Thursday, December 11, 2008

nina paley attacks!

Animated film-maker Nina Paley criticized me yesterday, over in the comments at, for using uncredited photographs in this blog, after I expressed my doubts about the merits of film projects that were based around music by (not paid) musicans who hadn't been involved with the film project. I said it was a too easy way to add polish to a film production without paying the artists who made that polish possible.

Yes, the picture of Blagojevich was uncredited. I've corrected that now by making the picture link back to the original photographer's Flicker page. I picked an image off Flicker since those are obviously out there to be used. They give you options to download a copy of any size you want for free. I presume the photographer approves of those terms or he/she wouldn't be publishing on Flicker.

But as I skim through the rest of my blog entries I see that almost every one that uses an image has a link to drive readers back to the original source. For example, the post on the recently discovered phonograph cylinders of Russian musicians links back to the pertinent NY Times article.

The numerous Youtube clips are self-documenting in themselves.

So I don't feel I've been too egregious in my borrowings here.

And Nina's film? It's "Sita Sings the Blues". (I won't even try to show you a picture here.) I actually contributed money to her last year to cover some unexpected production cost she was desperately trying to raise money to cover. My contribution wasn't much, but at the time the film was described as a narrative film about her being dumped by her ex-husband or something like that, which sounded like an interesting indy film project. I hoped that maybe my contribution would edge the film along toward distribution so that I might see it some day.

Now it turns out the film is perhaps more of music video based on some recordings from the 1920's. I'm not sure I would have contributed to a project like that. I'll never get to see the movie to be sure since Nina didn't get clearance on the music she was borrowing and her film is now shelved for copyright infringement reasons.

I've been working on an independent film lately, titled "The Tin Woodman of Oz" based on the public domain story by L. Frank Baum.

Authorized image from "The Tin Woodman of Oz":

It's a modest little movie, we didn't have many resources, but we made it all ourselves; we didn't borrow anything we didn't have the rights to, we even wrote the songs ourselves. I wrote two of them!

I don't imagine anyone out there on the internet will contribute $35,000 to our production like they did to Nina Paley's, but we did our homework before we embarked on making a movie and she didn't. Our movie has at least a remote chance of being distributed, hers has none. Which would you give money to?


skarab said...

Hey Rob-I'm sorry there were words between you and Nina. I know her a little and I've always liked her work, though I haven't seen any lately. Last time I saw her she was working on an animation based on some Indian folktales and using hindu imagery for inspiration.

but fair use is fair use and if you're linking back to the source I don't see why this should even be an issue.

I haven't read the exchange on CartoonBrew but I'm going there now.


skarab said...

Okay, well that's the film she was working on when I saw her last.

It's kind of amazing that she would put all that effort into this piece and then not get clearance for the music. What a shame.

Dhar said...

What is the song anyway?

Robert said...


I don't know what the songs are, but apparently there is more than one. Three I think?