To no one's surprise, Doctorow uncritically takes Paley's side, lamenting the "the heartbreak of having to strangle her acclaimed art." What is surprising is the reaction of the BoingBoing commenters to Doctorow's post. To be sure, Paley has plenty of defenders ("Leak it on bit torrent.... And screw the company that owns the rights to the music.") But there are also a sizable portion who buck the tide to say, in effect, "Listen, lady: quit your whining. If you want to use someone else's music, do the right thing and pay up. And next time, negotiate for the rights before you spend 3 years making a movie." A collection of the choicest comments:
- You'd think she'd have done a little research first.
- There are good arguments for liberal fair use policies in copyright, such as when you want to create a mash-up on youtube. This is not one of those cases. If you want to create a commercial product, which is what she wants to do, she needs to pay the creator (or their estate) for the work she wants in use. I agree with [a previous commenter] that it was an amateur move not to secure the rights first, when they might have been cheaper or she could have chosen other songs.
- I agree it may be very short-sighted for the copyright owners to insist on a high fee, or any fee at all if the film might mean more song sales down the road, but that is their decision to make.
- So, how about I just take her animation and write my own music to go along with it, and show it at animation festivals, and then whine that she won't give me clearance?
I'm a composer and musician. I have had a few instances where professional independent film makers have used my music in a rough cut of their movie, then ask my permission after the fact to use the music for the release. This is totally backwards. When I quote a license fee, they act as if I am somehow the bad guy. What they say is, "I'm just a poor artist trying to realize my vision." Jeez. Welcome to the club. I'm just a poor musician who doesn't work for free -- when did I agree to donate my services to the amateur film industry?
It's my business how much I want to charge for a license -- you can reasonably argue that the "exposure" is worth taking a smaller fee, but the point is that it's my decision -- there is no inherent "right" to use my music just because you disagree with my business decision.
Furthermore, this "exposure" argument is not relevant for someone who relies on license income. I mean, what does exposure get me? I'm not a touring band, I'm a composer. So maybe "exposure" gets me another licensing deal in the future -- should I not charge for that one either, because that is also "exposure?"
Forgive my rambling, but these cries of "unfair" always come from people who don't respect the rights content creators. We're not all big corporate monoliths.
- Sorry Cory, normally I can get behind you on these sorts of issues, but not on this one. I agree with the commenters who have pointed out it was perhaps shortsighted to base a work around a piece of music for which she would not be able to obtain rights at a reasonable cost. To then cry about that cost and to state that it's somehow preventing the release of her work is really quite absurd.
- I'll have to pay $13.75 for a ticket at an art house theater it plays in. She won't be handing out free tickets will she?
I'm failing to understand why on the one hand Nina says the specific music is so important to the film (which it is) and on the other hand isn't willing to pay those artists for their work.***
I also feel that her tactic of loudly complaining to the public rather than trying to negotiate further with the master owners and music publishers is a bad move. I think she should have gotten an experienced music clearance person to help her out here - no publisher worth his or her salt is seriously going to quote $16,000-$20,000 for a use in a small budget short animated film.