5 thoughts on “Forever Frunch”

  1. Nina:
    What a fantastic, utterly so, movie. My husband and I love Annette Hanshaw and have one CD with her musci. I love Indian stories, etc., and you did one the most creative pieces of art I have ever seen in my sad, little 50-year old life.

  2. FROM Director R.HALL’S Facebook BLOG: “Here the Demons Rest…” (published on 3/7/10)
    “A small while ago I was going through my fears and frustations with my feature film “The Subhuman.” Most of those had to do with the songs I chose to use in them. They were, for what I thought, Public Domain songs, meaning, free to use, no one can claim rights to the usage of said music. And, for all I know, they still are…maybe. I then came across a filmmaker and animator named Nina Paley who created a feature animated film called Sita Sings the Blues.

    “In this movie, when Sita sings, her voice and music is that of 20’s singer Annette Hanshaw. These recordings that were made from 1925-1929. These songs, at one time or another, had been copyrighted, but are in the Public Domain. Unfortunately, only the recordings were Public Domain. The compositions themselves were NOT Public Domain. These compositions were tore up and sold to different music enterprises and have been passed down throughout the years, making it completely difficult to find out who owns such rights. For example, Warner Music and EMI music can hold the rights to the same song. Unfrotunately, Nina can’t distribute her movie the way she wants because they won’t let her since the corporations own the rights to the song composition…even though the recording itself is Public Domain.

    “What sucks is that these corporations have no intention on making any money nowadays from these artists of yesteryear (not to mention…would the artists descendants even see a share from the profit if there was one…me thinks “no”). They’re holding on to these for no good reason, only to have power and control over American Pop Culture I guess.

    “This brings me to…ME. The Subhuman originally used radio broadcasts (mostly) from radio shows like Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw. These recordings, it is argued, are only public domain because the radio broadcasters never filed for a legal copyright since Radio is thought to be a free medium. So these recordings are free to use…Public Domain. As I researched further, I saw that perhaps it was a bad idea to use such songs. The compositions underlaying the songs could very well be copyrighted still, OR, the lyrics to the songs could’ve been filed under a different law and thus those, too, are copyrighted. So even if the recording is free to use, everything else associated with the recording is not. Rather than risk it I decided to go another route. According to the U.S. copyright office any and all works published BEFORE 1923 are offically Public Domain (except the song “Happy Birthday” which was created in 1899…and for whatever reason, it’s copyright still exists). Nonetheless, if a work was published before 1923, the law states that it is in the Public Domain.

    “So I look for works created before 1923…and then I come upon a very popular singer of the time named Marion Harris. Marion Harris, whose body of work consists of songs made between 1916 and 1922, was a Jazz singer who, it very well could say, had a great influence on people like Annette Hansaw and even Helen Kane. And since much of her songs came out before 1923, I figured they are free to use…not only free to use but I’m also exposing a great many people to a genre, to a musical styling, that they would’ve never heard before. Now, from all the research I’ve done, it seems like I’m actually okay to use these since they were made before 1923…HOWEVER, there is no way to be sure that, like Happy Birthday or the Nina Paley debacle, the actual compositions of these songs weren’t somehow purchased after their publications and were sold off to big corporations that exist today. No way of knowing. For all I know, a song like “Don’t Leave Me Daddy” that was published in 1917 might be owned by EMI music corp or Sony Music corp…or both. Perhaps when I go ahead and begin releasing “The Subhuman” on a bigger scale I’ll start getting lawsuits from such companies demanding I pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars for a composition track they’ll never use…ever. Maybe I actually AM protected by Federal Law and no such thing will happen to me and I can use these recordings as I like. I’ve looked around and found there were two seperate CD publishing companies that have released her music under Public Domain status…and if they haven’t gotten into trouble yet, perhaps I won’t either…and they stand to make more profit than I will on my movie…maybe. (Then again, I’ve seen some other CD publishers put out Annette Hanshaw stuff…and they haven’t been punished like Nina Paley…so, who knows).

    “So here we are. A world controlled by corporations. A world that is copyrighted. All I can do is cross my fingers and hope to freaking God that everything turns out all right. Only time will tell…”

    (I decided to post this on your site, Ms. Paley. As one filmmaker to another, I figured I’d let you know what I’m going through, and it very well may be something I’d be sharing with you as well. I would like you to know that I support the hell out of your movie and your cause, and I’m with you %100 percent. Keep up the good fight!)
    [Reach me on my facebook via Daryl R. Hall]

  3. Thanks! Just one correction – I am distributing “Sita” EXACTLY the way I want. The only part I don’t want is the @#$%! payments to these extortionists per 5,000 copies sold. But the overall distribution model is more awesome than I could have imagined before copyright censorship traumas led me down the path toward Free Culture.

    Good luck with The Subhuman!

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