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<nettime> Actors' union shouts 'cut' on digital film
Felix Stalder on Wed, 13 Apr 2005 00:02:29 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Actors' union shouts 'cut' on digital film


[via fibreculture, sarai, three times around the globe, but still interesting. 
question: are actors part of digital culture, or people with personality 
rights? felix]

http://www.theage.com.au/news/Outsourcing/Actors-union-shouts-cut/2005/04/11/1113071894581.html

Actors' union shouts 'cut' on digital film
By Seamus Byrne
April 12, 2005


The Australian actors union is blocking a world-first remixable film
project, and possibly forcing the production offshore, out of fear
that footage of actors could be misused.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has stopped production on
the "re-mixable" film experiment because of plans to release the film
under a Creative Commons (CC) licence. The $100,000 short film
Sanctuary has been seeking a dispensation from the MEAA since January
to allow professional actors to participate in the production. The
film's cast supports the concept but the MEAA board has refused any
dispensation, stalling production scheduled to start in late March.

The CC licence will allow audiences to freely copy and edit the film's
digital assets for non-commercial purposes, this being the issue of
central concern to the MEAA. "We don't see any safe way a performer
can appear in this," says Simon Whipp, MEAA national director.
"Footage could be taken and included in a pro-abortion advertisement
or a pro-choice advertisement.

"Any non-commercial usage the performer may or may not agree with.
Then for commercial work, performers are asked to sign a statement
about what other commercials they have appeared in and this can be
used to determine whether or not to include that performer. Without
full knowledge of future usage of the film, it could unwittingly place
that performer in breach of future commercial agreements."
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The film's Australian director, Michela Ledwidge, received an
Inventions award from Britain's National Endowment for Science,
Technology and the Arts, in recognition of the groundbreaking nature
of the experiment.

This has led to further support from the Australian Film Commission,
which is funding the interactive and CGI elements of the work. Carole
Sklan, AFC director of film development, says: "We appreciate that
there are many issues raised by the application of the Creative
Commons licence to Australian productions and have encouraged both the
MEAA and the producer to negotiate to address these."

Ms Ledwidge hopes to allay MEAA fears as part of the application for
dispensation. "We (showed) our intent to be conservative in the re-use
we showcase. If we fail in our duties to operate a trust network there
will be problems but we're up for the responsibility."

The licence supports the moral rights of the author, but Mr Whipp says
the conflict with the CC licence is particular to Australia. "If you
come from where performers also have moral rights, this isn't such an
issue. But here performers have no moral rights - nothing prevents the
ridicule of the performers. We have spoken with Brian Fitzgerald, the
dean of the faculty of law at QUT (who is closely associated with
Creative Commons development in Australia), who understands our
concerns and will look to work with us on the matter."

Ms Ledwidge fears her project will have to head back overseas. "We
will still make the film but plans for an Australian shoot will have
to be revised."

The Creative Commons system is a "some rights reserved" form of
copyright, providing an alternative to the black and white of full
copyright and public domain. Australian versions of the CC licences
only came into effect in February.



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