It begins: you can now watch a streaming version of the entire film at channel13.org.
Many more formats will be online by March 7th, the day Sita Sings the Blues airs on WNET TV (part of Reel 13 on March 7 at 10:45 pm). These will be higher resolution and free to copy and share. If you want a copy, please wait for the higher quality formats instead of capturing the very compressed channel13.org streaming version. As the artist, I want the highest quality versions to circulate; it’d be sad if a super-compressed capture started torrenting first. Together, we can keep quality high!
On March 7, New York’s WNET Channel13 will broadcast Sita Sings the Blues. WNET hopes to make a compressed version available for streaming on their web site even earlier (they’re aiming for February 26; we’ll keep you posted).
Note that we’re still in negotiations with the old music licensors, who may or may not allow us to freely share my film. PBS can broadcast and stream it regardless, due to special conditions in US copyright law. But the more”seed” sites we have lined up before the release, the better.
We’ll need some “seed” sites to host it: Internet servers with the capacity to offer about 500-600GB of data for public download. If you or your institution has that kind of bandwidth and storage, please contact us. We’ll work out a way to get the data to you.
Why March 7th?
That night, Sita Sings The Blues will be broadcast on New York’s public television station WNET â€” Channel 13 (see here for details). Public television has a special exemption written into U.S. copyright law, such that they can show the film even when it’s still in copyright jail for everyone else. However, Nina Paley has made progress on finalizing contracts with the music composition copyright holders, and we believe we’ll be able to release the entire film by then. Since the New York showing will expose the film to a large new audience, when those people go to recommend it to all their friends, we want their friends to have an easy way to get it.
Note that free distribution really means free: you will be able to watch the film on your computer, make DVDs and distribute them, and hold public screenings (the film will circulate online in high-resolution formats appropriate for screenings). Your activities can be commercial or non-commercial, that’s up to you.
Our thanks to all who have donated so far to enable this experiment in decentralized distribution! But we can still use help: the rights clearance process â€” or rather, the “restrictions clearance” process â€” is not cheap. So if you’ve been considering donating to support Nina’s effort, here’s that link again.
Sita Sings the Blues is going to be broadcast on New York PBS station WNET Channel 13 on They haven’t chosen the exact date yet, but it will be sometime in MarchSaturday March 7 at 10:45pm on the series Reel13.
PBS enjoys a special privilege among broadcasters: they can legally broadcast music without having to clear individual master or synchronization licenses. That means even while Sita is in copyright jail, she can still legally air on PBS. WNET is hoping to be the first of many PBS affiliates to air the film. You can write or call your local PBS affiliate and ask them to broadcast Sita too!
WNET is our first experiment with Sita’s copyleft plan. Although the film isn’t free under copyleft yet (because I still haven’t received the promised contracts from the rightsholders, let alone raised the money), we’re acting in accordance to those principles already. WNET is making a voluntary payment equivalent to what they normally offer programs on Reel13. That’s $3,000, a third of which will be spent updating the credits and having a new HD master made to their specifications. They understand Sita is non-exclusive, and that any derivative works they make (such as subtitles) must also be open-content. But as long as bad copyright laws prohibit everyone else from broadcasting Sita, PBS gets exclusive access by default.
We’re still looking for donors and underwriters. Want to see your name on PBS? Here’s the credit breakdown:
$250 or more – Donor (small but legible font in end crawl)
$1,000 or more – Production Angel (larger font, sub-credit of your choice)
$10,000 or more – Executive Producer (largest font, sub-credit of your choice)
$50,000 or more – Sponsor: same as Executive Producer, plus I will modify the “intermission” to include your image/message as long as it complies with PBS’s rules (no soliciting). I can animate you or your product walking out for popcorn along with the “cast”! Or whatever you want.
The credits lock Friday February 13. That’s exactly four weeks from today. After then, you can still donate (we hope you will!) but the tape will be locked for WNET.
Please donate here. Donations under $250 still gratefully appreciated, and all donor names (even the smallest) will be acknowledged in a special credits section on the official DVD, as well as the upcoming official web site.