The Failures Of Permission Culture

Donna Wentworth, over at Copyfight pointed out a JD Lasica piece detailing the responses from seven studios to his requests to use short (10-30 seconds) clips of their films in a non-commercial project he was working on with his child.

…four of the studios refused outright, two refused to respond, and the seventh wobbled.

This is the quandary millions of us face today: The Hollywood studios demand that we ask for permission to borrow from their works — and then they deny our requests as a matter of course.

One studio acknowledged the the “worthwhile intentions” of the project and seemed to understand that it would be shown only to family and friends (not on the internet), but refused as a matter of policy:

we have had to establish a general policy of non-cooperation with requests of this nature.

There’s nothing new in this, of course. Writer Chris Turner had to pay over $4 a word to quote a few lines from some Radiohead songs in his book about The Simpsons. Hip hop, once emblematic of “remix culture,” one example of voices and venues squashed (here’s what happens when artists try that today).

Anyway, Wendy Seltzer tells me it’s the EFF‘s 15th birthday and they’re doing a blog-a-thon. This isn’t really about why I joined the “fight for my right to fair use and a vibrant public domain,” but it says a lot about why I’m still in it.

Related: The People Who Owned The Bible and Orphaned Works — when you can’t even find the people to ask for permission.