Michael Moore takes on copyright


stacy writes "Michael Moore is ok with users pirating his new movie and is not going to oppose the distribution of the film via the internet, so says
The Sunday Herald."
"I don’t agree with the copyright laws and I don’t have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it with people as long as they’re not trying to make a profit off my labour. I would oppose that," he said.


I wonder what the people who fronted the cash for the thing feel about that since they would most probably be the copyright holders. Lions Gate Films I think. I looked at the poster on his website but since I haven't seen the film I don't really know who holds the copyright. It is not in the LOC catalog.

Odd too is the © Michael Moore on the bottom of every page of his webiste that I visited. For someone who does not agree with the copyright laws he sure seems to invoke them frequently.

“Your arguments are pitted against themselves�Only in your mind mdoneilHe has an obligation to legally protect the licensing and “rights� as defined by industrial standards. He has no obligation to “hunt down� file sharers. (Which he is not capable of doing anyways). If the industry as a whole has a problem thats a matter for the industry to solve. So it is both ways..Moore is NOT giving his product away . He is running it in the theaters. It is others that are “taking it and distributing it� for their own reasons). He is smart enough to not “have a cow� about that. He knows his audience. He is making a lot of money!Fear not for the plight of the working man. The economic risk of production belongs to the producers. Cameramen , gaffers, stage hands etc are all paid wages. They made their money regardless of the outcome of the film They are not hurt the peer to peer sharing of Moore's movie. He's putting money in their pockets.Now you can support him.Fat chance.

Uh No ...I said this..."Fear not for the plight of the working man. The economic risk of production belongs to the producers. Cameramen , gaffers, stage hands etc are all paid wages."which means they get paid "by the hour" ...if the film fails they were paid...if the film succeeds they do not get paid again...they are "outside" the licensing and royalty chain....sometimes actors are in the "royalty chain" and sometimes they are "baught out"...that is negotiated.

oops...sorry boI thught you were talking to me...I see you were talking to mdoneil

The technicians and staff working on a movie are not in the royalty chain; they're paid straight wages.Actors are another matter--but perhaps you could identify for us the people in F9/11 who are appearing as _actors_ ? This is a documentary, and in fact much of the footage is file news footage.The people making money from the unprecedented box office take of this polemical documentary are Michael Moore, Lions Gate, and the theater owners. And those parties have _already_ made far more money from F9/11 than they ever anticipated. They do, in fact, have not only the legal right but also the moral right to decide that they don't want to pursue piraters who are not doing it for profit.And--here's an idea that may make your head explode--they may be taking this stance in anticipation of its actually INCREASING their total profits. The National Academy Press makes its books available for download free of charge. Originally, they did this in the expectation that they would hurt their sales somewhat, but not fatally. What actually happened was that their sales _increased_--because people who read substantial parts of their books online became _more_ willing to pay the cost of a bound copy, not less. Moore et al. may be calculating that many of the people who download a relatively poor version of the film may be more willing to pay money for the DVD when it becomes available--not all of them, of course, but enough of them to increase total sales.And finally, of course, neither Moore nor Lions Gate is engaging in any illegal or pirated distribution of the film; they're just making it known that they're not going to pursue those who do, as long as they're not doing it for profit.

I obviously couldn't have said it better myself....

I come from an "industry" family, have worked on the production side of TV, films, etc. Never known anyone in the trades who saw residuals, royalties, etc. Unions? Good luck with that. Production is moving off shore faster than you can kiss a duck. I'm not complaining, but the reality is closer to: 12 hour days/nights, six days per week, no work assurances, no insurance, etc. Great money, lousy stability. I love it, but it only makes the big dogs rich.

Why do you insist on putting words in my mouth. I never suggested that Moore 'hunt down' persons illegally sharing files. Moore is encouraging the file swapping of the movie, the article shows this.

If you were to read the DMCA specifically §406 I think you would see that persons covered under collective bargaining agreements are protected when motion picture copyright agreements are modified.

When I was younger I was a television director, I was also talent in some promotional spots. I was required to join AFTRA, the only union to which I ever belonged. In addition to wages union members were entitled to compensation for residuals and format changing agreements. Often times the payments go to the union for member benefits such as insurance and retirement rather than direct payments to members, but none the less encouraging uncompensated distribution of the film is improper.

I have to disagree with your statement that this is a documentary. Even here at LISNews people are discussing fictional portions of this film that involve faked newspaper headlines.

Please provide any authoratative documentation you have that shows that all of the technical staff is not entitled to compensation based on a motion picture's performance.

In fact Moore and Lions Gate Films do not have the right to free pirates from criminal sanction. They may decline to prosecute the file sharing civilly, but it is still a crime. Moore would not be the only victim, the theater owner who loses ticket sales, the video store who loses a sale or rental, and as I have said before those who would be compensated by contractual agreement.

I don't suggest that Moore hunt down file swappers, but I would hope that he would not encourage people to take money out of these people's pockets. Is the theater owner or video store owner not as entitled to make a living as the rest of us?

If it were not Michael Moore, but George Lucas encouraging the pirating of Star Wars it would be just as wrong...would it not?

Your arguments are pitted against themselves.

You note that Moore is being graceful and elegant about illegal file sharing, file sharing which takes money from the pockets of the rich movie moguls as well as the work-a-day camera operators and electricians.

Then you say he has an obligation to his business partners to copyright his own work. Either he has the obligation to protect the work or he does not. He (and the rest of us) can't have it both ways.

I am not a fan of the current copyright laws either, I especially think the Bono legislation was nonsense. But that is not the issue, the issue is that Moore can't encourage others to illegally take things that he and others have produced. If he made it himself- sure give it away, but if yoou saw the film, I'm sure there were credits and those people are entitled to a piece of the pie too, a pie Moore cannot give away. Moore can't encourage people to download and share his movie. It is simply wrong. If it weren't for copyright how many of those same sound recordists and camera operators would be able to support their families if everyone could simply download films without paying for them. It is about fairness to all the workers on the film, not about Moore's dislike of copyright.

If anyone can tell me how its fair not to compensate the others involved in the film for their work I'll support Moore's encouragement of illegal file sharing, but until such time I will continue to insist that he is hurting the very people who helped make his film. The very people who worked for him. Michael Moore is big business and an example of how some big businesses don't consider the rank and file when they make decisions that materially affect them.

The union.

If you are covered under collective bargaining then your union handles this sort of thing. If you are not covered then read your contract, if it mentions residuals then send them a bill, if not well you negotiated the contract not me.

You might try noticing what he actually says, "...as long as they’re not trying to make a profit off my labour. I would oppose that."The copyright notice on the website is in no way inconsistent with what Moore actually said, only with your cartoon version of it.

Thank you for your condescending impertinent reply. Indeed I can read what Moore said, or to be more correct what was reported in the Sunday Herald as I doubt Moore spells labour with the letter U.

It is unfortunate that you were unable to comprehend what I wrote. My comment about the movie relates not to Moore, but to those who provided the funding for the film and would hold the copyright since it was a commissioned work. I wonder how Lions Gate Films feels about the downloading and sharing of the film - even if it was done without recompense. I would assume those who paid for the film would have a different opinion of the sharing of the film through non-traditional channels.

Your comment about my cartoon view of things, another fantastically mean spirited (to coin a Alexandra Kerry phrase) comment, seems quite misguided. I am quite confident that Michael Moore wouldn't allow any use of his material "As long as they’re not trying to make a profit off my labour." I can't fathom that Moore would allow the Bush camp to use his material, even though they are not a profit making organization. I also assume that he would not encourage the use of his Internet ramblings by the National Republican Committee, any conservative organization, or anyone who does not share his views.

But thanks so much for your uninformed comments, they certainly reinforce my opinion that there are but a few people who can engage in reasoned discussion.

Michael Moore and Lions Gate are giving tacit permission for individuals to download the film. They state that. It is not as black and white as you portray. Moore makes it clear if you "lift" his work for profit he will go after you ...if for private consumption...no problem. So he clearly believes in the licensing and royalty aspect of copyright laws. And there is nothing wrong with claiming a copyright on his work. That is how the law works.However, there may be other aspects of copyright law that he disagrees ...from his history I think "near corporate perpetuity" would be one of those aspects. Example ...Disney Corp successfully lobbying to have their copyright extended as it was running out.It is possible to be "for" some aspects and "against" others. It is not all or nothing.There may be much to criticize about Moore but his critics have been reaching so far “down� that not only do they do themselves a dis-service but they actually help him make his point and achieve his success.

The funding partner was Disney....hard to imagine they commissioning that...they obviously did not have any control over it....the only thing they could do was "with hold distribution"...which was a pretty lame political response bet Lios Gate is pretty happy about )...if you'w seen the film you probably noticed that it was written, directed, and produced by Moore a previous academy award documentary film producer...a work for hire by Disney? ...that is not only doubtfull but laughable.

Given that you repeat your comments about what you presume Lions Gate must think about Moore's comments, I can only assume that you didn't bother to read the entire (rather short) article, and so failed to see this:"Despite up to 150 people simultaneously bagging free copies of its most valuable property at any given time 24 hours a day, Lions Gate says it has no plans to oppose the practice. While unwilling to make any official statement likely to further provoke Hollywood’s heavy hitters, the film company appears to have fallen into line with its director’s laissez-faire approach."Lions Gate is apparently _at least_ willing to go along with Moore on this, if in fact they didn't make this decision together. You point out that it was a "commissioned work"; did it occur to you that they probably didn't commission a Michael Moore movie about 9/11 and Bush's response to it in the expectation that it would be the box-office winner on its opening weekend, and get knocked down to second place the following weekend only by Spiderman 2, the expected blockbuster hit of the summer? They expected this to be, at best, fairly successful on the documentary scale of successful. Instead they've got a genuine hit. They're making their money, and can afford to regard the downloaders, not as a threat, but as even more people seeing a movie they backed at least partly for ideological reasons.As for your comment not being related to Moore, but only to those who funded the movie--sorry, you did also comment on Moore having a copyright notice on "every page" of his website, as if that were somehow hypocritical or inconsistent.

It would not be proper to comment on an article one has not read. I always read the articles.

Lions Gate may have no plans to oppose the practice; they have not answered the email I sent them earlier in the day asking if it was OK with them if I downloaded their film.

It is also important to consider others involved with the motion picture who would be damaged by this illegal downloading and sharing of the work.
You may know that actors, and others subject to collective bargaining agreements receive residual payments based on the income of the film. I thought Michael Moore what the champion of the common man, not the enemy of the union member.

Just as actors get paid when a movie goes to DVD, cable, or broadcast television, or when contracts give a prenegotiated percentage of the revenues the studio receives to the actors, the others who make the motion pictures receive remuneration. The camera operators, the sound recordists, the grips, the electricians and carpenters are all compensated when a motion picture is redistributed or reformatted. In agreeing to allow uncompensated distribution of the film Moore is cheating the union members whose contracts allow them a share in the profits. The DMCA (§406) protects not only Moore but all the others whose labo(u)r produced the film.

If that is not hypocritical than I don't know what is.

You further state that Moore is not hypocritical in his use of copyright notices on his web pages when he eschews current copyright laws. Please note that I said there were copyright notices on every page of the Moore website that I visited I note this because you felt it necessary to quote me out of context. Fairness requires that you quote me in context. There were copyright notices on “every page that I visited� at the Moore site. I have neither the time nor the inclination to visit every page on that site.

Given that there are many ways of granting permission to copy one’s work including explicit license and creative commons licenses readily available for online works [see http://oneil.cx/MT3/blog/ , creative commons license], Moore is indeed hypocritical when he says one thing and does another. I can’t find any better definition of the term.

Perhaps I have made it too difficult by addressing two issues in the same post. I will attempt to clarify.

1) Moore cannot legally nor morally allow others to download and share the motion picture without paying for it. It violates the contractual obligations that require payment to those employed in the making of the motion picture under collective bargaining agreements. It violates the moral right to be paid for one’s work. The technicians and staff who worked on the film deserve to be compensated for Moore’s film just as they are compensated for their work on any other film. They are entitled to compensation based on revenues from the work and Moore’s encouragement of illegal file sharing simply takes money out of the pockets of the working class in the motion picture industry.

2) Moore’s public disagreement with copyright and his pronouncement that he feels that the use of his works without explicit permission in cases where no profit is made are quite clearly in contrast to the copyright notices on pages of his Web site. Certain other widely available methods for protection of online content while permitting limited use in non-profit arenas would be more in keeping with Moore’s public comments.

Again, thank you for your comments, although I find them a bit uninformed. Your failure to consider the effect on others, and the illegality of file sharing without explicit license does little to bolster your argument, but I do appreciate you taking the time to make reasoned argument in support of your position.

You might want to reconsider this
  Your point 1) “Moore cannot legally nor morally allow others to download and share the motion picture without paying for it. “Actually Moor is not illegally downloading and distributing it...he realizes people are doing this and he is being “gracefull and dare I say “elegantâ€? about itâ€?. So is Lions Gate. However, if one wanted to be cynical about it ...what can he do about peer to peer sharing ..that is not his fight...we all know what his fight is.Regarding your second point ...there is much Moore could not like about copyright...and much he could like. He has a right and probably an obligation to his business partners to copyright his own work. He does not have to like every aspect of copyright. It's not black or white.

You said, "The camera operators, the sound recordists, the grips, the electricians and carpenters are all compensated when a motion picture is redistributed or reformatted... "

I don't know what you're talking about. To whom should I write for my missing payments?

There is a new Michael Moore Book out called Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man

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