Original Sita Sings the Blues Paintings

Someone has been emailing me saying they REALLY want to buy an original Sita Sings the Blues painting. These have been in storage since I moved from New York to Urbana IL last year, but I just excavated them and took some crappy photos (reflective glass! Wide-angle pocket camera lens!) for her to choose from. Click thumbnail for hi-res jpeg.

If anyone else wants to buy an original painting let me know: nina underscore paley at yahoo dot com. The outside dimensions of the wooden frames are about 12″ x 14.8″. They’re about $1000 each, give or take for more or less complex/competent paintings.

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My first solo Art Quilt Show Opens June 15 at Sleepy Creek Vineyards

Mark yer calendars! My first Art Quilt Show opens June 15 at Sleepy Creek Vineyards in hip, happenin’ rural-area-between-Urbana-and-Danville, IL.

Nina Paley Art Quilt Show 2013

Art Quilts will be on the walls June 15-September 15, 2013

Opening: June 15
Reception: 6pm
Screening of Sita Sings the Blues: 8pm

Sleepy Creek Vineyards is three miles south of Oakwood, Illinois, just off Interstate 74 between Danville and Champaign, IL.
Address:  8254 E 1425 North Rd., Fairmount, IL 61841
Phone: 217-733-0330
Directions

Want to see the place? Sleepy Creek has a funny webseries you can watch right now! My favorite is episode 6, it cracks me up.

Ahimsa: Sita Sings the Blues now CC-0 “Public Domain”

I am hereby changing Sita Sings the Blues CC-BY-SA (Share Alike) license to CC-0.

A few years ago I started thinking about taking a vow of non-violence: a commitment to never sue anyone over Knowledge (or Culture, Cultural Works, Art, Intellectual Pooperty, whatever you call it). Copyright law is hopelessly broken; indeed, the Law in the US is broken all over the place. Why would I resort to the same broken law to try to fix abuses that occur within it?

We live in a messed-up world. My choices, however principled, will not change that. People will continue to censor, suppress, and enclose Knowledge. Share-Alike – the legal requirement to keep Knowledge Free – has ironically resulted in the suppression of same.

Not using knowledge is an offense to it,” wrote Jeff Jarvis, reflecting on the death of Aaron Swartz.

I learned of Aaron’s death on Sunday; on Monday, the National Film Board of Canada told me I had to fill out paperwork to “allow” filmmaker (and personal friend) Chris Landreth to refer to Sita Sings the Blues in his upcoming short, Subconscious Password, even though Fair Use already freed the NFB from any legitimate fear of Share-Alike’s viral properties. I make compromises to my principles every day, but that Monday I just couldn’t. The idiocy of NFB’s lawyers was part of the same idiocy that Aaron fought in liberating documents from JSTOR. I couldn’t bear to enable more bad lawyers, more bad decisions, more copyright bullshit, by doing unpaid paperwork for a corrupt and stupid system. I just couldn’t.

So the NFB told Chris to remove all references to SSTB from his film.

There are consequences for taking a principled stance. People criticize you, fear you, and pity you. You get plenty of public condemnation. You lose money. Sometimes the law goes after you, and although that hasn’t happened to me yet, it could as I do more civil disobedience in the future.

But the real victim of my principled stance isn’t me, it’s my work. When I took a principled stance against Netflix’s DRM, the result was fewer people saw SSTB. When countless television stations asked for the “rights” to SSTB and I told them they already had them, the result was they didn’t broadcast it. When publishers wanted to make a SSTB-based book, the Share-Alike license was a dealbreaker, so there are no SSTB books.

My punishment for opposing enclosure, restrictions, censorship, all the abuses of copyright, is that my work gets it.

Not using knowledge is an offense to it.

So, to the NFB, to Netflix, to all you publishers and broadcasters, to you legions of fucking lawyers: Sita Sings  the Blues is now in the Public Domain. You have no excuse for suppressing it now.

Am I still fighting? Yes. BUT NOT WITH THE LAW. I still believe in all the reasons for BY-SA, but the reality is I would never, ever sue anyone over SSTB or any cultural work. I will still publicly condemn abuses like enclosure and willful misattribution, but why point a loaded gun at everyone when I’d never fire it? CC-0 is an acknowledgement I’ll never go legal on anyone, no matter how abusive and evil they are.

CC-0 is as close as I can come to a public vow of legal nonviolence. The law is an ass I just don’t want to ride.

I cannot abolish evil. The Law cannot abolish evil; indeed, it perpetuates and expands it. People will continue to censor, silence, threaten, and abuse Knowledge, and our broken disaster of a copyright regime will continue encouraging that. But in fighting monsters, I do not wish myself to become a monster, nor feed the monster I’m fighting.

Neither CC-BY-SA nor CC-0 will fix our flawed world with its terribly broken copyright regime. What I can say is SSTB has been under CC-BY-SA for the last 4 years, so I know what that’s like and can share results of that experiment. Going forward under CC-0 I will learn new things and have more results to share. That seems like a win even if some bad scenarios come into play. I honestly have not been able to determine which Free license is “better,” and switching to CC-0 may help answer that question.

A bull, a lamb, and a goat

What do you suppose happens to these cute little fellows? Read all about it in Exodus 29.

I modified the bull (formerly a cow) and goat-ram (formerly the vehicle of Agni) from Sita Sings the Blues. The sheep is new.

The Highest Praise

Some people love Sita Sings the Blues enough to devote time and energy (and probably money!) to protesting it in public. My movie is now in the same league as the paintings of the late M. F. Hussein. I have arrived.

Article: Troll Sena protests Sita Sings the Blues in San Jose

Related: Aseem Chhabra on Sita Sings the Blues and free speech, in the Mumbai Mirror.

Sita at the Starlite, Thursday July 21st

Come see Sita Sings the Blues in Queens!

Thursday July 21st
5pm to 8pm
Starlite Pavillion
130-05 101st Avenue
Richmond Hill, NY 11419 (map)
Admission: $5

I will be there for a panel discussion afterwards, along with Aseem Chhabra (aka Shadow Puppet #1), Ravisharon Kaur, and Bina Mahabir.

There’s an extra special reason you should attend this screening: it was organized, at great effort, by a devout Hindu, Rohan Narine, for a largely Hindu audience. He originally set it up at his Mandir, but after a while someone nixed it. Then he rescheduled it at a Hindu senior center, and again, after a while, someone else nixed it. Finally he chose the neutral Starlite Pavillion, and of course the Hindutvadi fundamentalists want to “protest” it (in their usual classy way, by sending hundreds of batshit emails). Now, there have been thousands of Sita Sings the Blues screenings, but this is the first one to be specifically targeted. Why? Because this screening was organized by actual devout Hindus, and  the Hindutvadis can’t stand that. So please, show some love for our real Hindu friends, and come to this screening.

Still not sure? Here’s Hinduism Today‘s endorsement of Sita Sings the Blues.

Love,

–Nina

Update: Tyrants only have power if you give it to them. Unfortunately, the Starlite Pavillion just canceled the Sita Sings the Blues screening.

Success! Sita Sings the Blues Once Again Viewable on German Youtube

After one or two (or more?) years of being blocked on German Youtube, the full-length noncommercial Sita Sings the Blues movie is once again viewable in Deutschland:

I assume this is because last week I posted this video, complaining about why my 100% legal and painstakingly and expensively licensed movie was blocked in Germany:

Apparently many Germans are none too pleased with GEMA themselves, as indicated by interesting comments here. Some industry shills weighed in as well, but it looks like popular sentiment is against them. The story was shared widely, including in Der Spiegel and the New York Times online editions.

It’s not clear how an American YouTube user is supposed to contest takedowns in Germany. When I was in Berlin recently, it was suggested I find a German lawyer to take some sort of action. At the very least, I would need someone in Germany to contest the takedown on my behalf. I imagine that would have been a slow and possibly expensive process. Then I thought of making this video. Although it took some work (writing a statement – yes I know it’s an imperfect statement, I did the best I could with the knowledge I had – shooting the video, recording the audio via a separate mic, transferring files, editing, compressing, etc.) it was less work than managing an international legal process. And it got results fast! Better still, it contributed to ongoing debates about GEMA and Intellectual Pooperty in general.

My thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about this, and especially people in Germany who checked the Sita Sings the Blues URL and confirmed when the movie was blocked, and when it was unblocked.

GEMA issues fraudulent takedown of Sita Sings the Blues in Germany

Apparently it’s been blocked there for over a year, but without lawyers there’s not much I can do about it from the US….so I made this video. Please share, especially if you’re in Germany.

Laxmi Devi quilt

Here’s what I’ve been working on the past couple weeks:

Yep that’s “Laxmi” from Sita Sings the Blues. Cotton fabric, polyester batting, polyester thread. 52″ wide by 72″ high – twice as big as any of my 4 Elements panels. I might sew some shiny gold sequin things coming out of Her open hand to symbolize the gold coins that are often shown pouring out of it. Continue reading Laxmi Devi quilt

Yes Means Yes

Please don’t ask my permission to re-use my work. YOU ALREADY HAVE PERMISSION. Please copy, share, re-use, redistribute, edit, modify, sell, etc.

Asking permission wastes your time, and mine. You might not mind wasting your time. Many people think asking for permission is a “sign of respect.” But what about my time?

Information (including all of my work) is not scarce. Attention (time) is.

Emails get lost in spam filters. They get lost amid the hundreds of other emails in my inbox. I’ve been known to take vacations and actually get away from my computer for a few days – something I should be doing more often. So what happens if you don’t get any response to your permission request? Do you not reuse the work? A work that has been explicitly made Free in the hopes you will reuse it? Not reusing the work harms the work, and harming a work is disrespectful. Delaying reusing the work likewise harms the work, in smaller increments.

Suppose a “respectful” email asking for permission which has already been explicitly granted doesn’t get caught in a spam filter or lost in some other glitch. Suppose it actualy makes it into my inbox. Now I am obligated to respond – the requester essentially said, “I’m not going to use this work unless you respond.” As “respectful” as this sounds, it places an unfair burden on me. The work, and any use of the work, should not be held hostage pending my checking and responding to email.

It is not “respectful” to make me do more, unnecessary work.

More importantly, asking permission is bad for the work itself. If you refuse to reuse the work unless I send you an email, you are blocking an expression or distribution of the work. How many days or weeks or months are you willing to put it off pending my ability to process email? Or worse, someone thinks it’s “respectful” to require me to sign papers and mail them back. Yes, this happens. I have such paperwork sitting right here, telling me that unless I sign it and mail it back, they won’t use the work they already have explicit permission to use. How is it “respectful” to make me jump through more hoops before they redistribute or remix a work I’ve made explicitly Free?

If you want to show respect, please send me something like this instead:

Dear Nina,

I thought you might like to know I’ve reused _________________  in _________________. Check it out at (insert URL here). Thanks for making the work Free!

Love,
Someone Who Understands Yes means Yes

Ahh, lovely. Thank you!

A complaint I hear often is that nowadays thanks to the inerwebs, not only do artists “have to give their work away for free” but they also “have to be businessmen.” HA! One goal of freeing my work is to free me of paperwork, contracts, and the role of manager – and what is having to oversee and administrate every re-use but management? In the “Intellectual Property” model, artists either have to do much more negotiating and managing and paperwork, or they have to pay someone else to do it for them. They have to be businessmen, or hire businessmen. And hiring businessmen (agents, lawyers, etc.) still requires much paperwork, negotiating, and contracts.

Some still insist that I’ve “maintained more control” over Sita Sings the Blues. The point is I have maintained no control over it, and that benefits me. The point is I don’t have to be a business(wo)man. The point is that other people, the crowd, distribute the work, and cost me nothing.

As long as they don’t ask for permission.

See you at BU – April 4 at 6pm

http://www.bu.edu/scriparts/calendar/Sita.jpg

I’ll be speaking at Boston University tomorrow (Monday April 4) evening at 6pm. Details here.

April 4 , 2011

SITA SINGS THE BLUES
Screening of the film and a conversation with filmmaker Nina Paley.

Boston University’s Program for Scripture and the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Distinguished Teaching Professorship welcome filmaker Nina Paley to Boston University. On April 4 we will present a showing of the groundbreaking animated film Sita Sings the Blues, followed by a conversation with the filmmaker.

Sita Sings the Blues was written, directed, produced and animated by American artist Paley, and weaves an autobiographical story with events from the Hindu scriptural text the Ramayana. The feature length film uses music, shadow puppets and novel animation techniques to re-imagine the artist’s experience through the lens of the god Rama’s wife, Sita.

Location: SMG Auditorium
Time/Date: April 4, 2011, 6pm

correction again, again

I’m reposting this (originally posted July 2009) for a third time, because misinformation continues to spread all over the interwebs. I should post it more often.

correction

Dear Journalists Dear Journalists, bloggers, commenters, etc.,

Some of you are writing that I was forced to choose the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license because the film is violating copyright. That is completely untrue, but has become the dominant motif of stories I read about the project. The confusion is understandable, so I attempt to sort it out below.

Sita Sings the Blues is 100% legal. I am free to release it commercially, which is why the film is gaining a number of commercial distributors in addition to its free sharing/audience distribution, which is also legal, and wonderful.

Sita Sings the Blues is in complete compliance with copyright regulations. I was forced to pay $50,000 in license fees and another $20,000 in legal costs to make it so. That is why I am in debt.  My compliance with copyright law is by no means an endorsement of it. Being $70,000 in the hole reminds me daily what an ass the law is. The film is legal, and that legality gives me a higher moral ground to stamp my feet upon as I denounce the failure that is copyright.

Having paid these extortionate fees, I could have gone with conventional distribution, and was invited to. I chose to free the film because I could see that would be most beneficial to me, my film, and culture at large. A CC-SA license does not absolve a creator of compliance with copyright law. The law could have sent me to prison for non-commercial copyright infringement. I was forced to borrow $70,000 to decriminalize my film, regardless of how I chose to release it.

Note that in some ways the film is not, and never will be free. For each disc sold, distributors must pay $1.65 to these faceless money sinks.  Transaction costs raise that amount to about $2.00 per disc. That is why my own Artist’s Edition is limited to 4,999 copies. I’ve already bled $50,000 into their vampiric maws; I have no intention of paying more.

Thank you for your attention.

Love,

–Nina

San Franciscans: support the Red Vic Movie House!

I loves me a good local cinema that plays arty independent animation. When I lived in San Francisco, I loved the Red Vic, and I still love them all the way from New York.  Like most small art institutions, they need help paying the rent, which is why I and Shadow Distribution are donating all our proceeds from these Sita Sings the Blues screenings to the Red Vic.

Thursday December 23 at 7:15p & 9:15pm
Sunday December 26 at 2:00, 4:00, 7:15 & 9:15 pm

There’s nothing like seeing a movie on real film, in a real theater with other people. If you’re in San Francisco this week, go!

“Dhol Beat” – UNCENSORED!

I was working on Sita Sings the Blues when Manish Acharya asked me to animate the music video for Loins of Punjab Presents. I said yes because I loved his film so much. I’m so glad I did!

Sita Sings the Blues – Uncut Narrator Interview

I’ve wanted to share this uncut interview file for a long time now. The main reason I’ve held back is I wanted Aseem, Bhavana and Manish to listen to the whole thing and be comfortable with having it out in the world. As far as I know, none of them did listen to the whole thing. Still, Manish was worried that it might attract more negative attention from batshit fundamentalists. So, I held on to it…. Now Manish is gone and all we have left are our memories (mine is extremely fallible), and recordings like this one. At his memorial yesterday Chris Dillon played an excerpt, and said it was like having a new conversation with Manish. The batshit fundamentalists are batshit no matter what; whether we speak or are silent, they will hate. I don’t want fear of them to deprive anyone of a conversation with Manish. Plus, as you can hear, Manish was quite a respectful and thoughtful Hindu – moreso than the few clips in SSTB may have revealed. So here you go, World:

Sita Sings the Blues – uncut narrator interview

Grief Memory