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Intellectual Property Rights in the Film Industry

A couple of months ago I was talking to a friend from my country, Paraguay, that was visiting London. He works at the institution that handles the Intellectual Property Rights of artists. He was here to attend a conference about copyright and the creative industries. I still can’t get over one thing he told me: “Here in the UK, all they think is how to make money”. He was referring to copyright. I just looked at him and thought about what we learn in class just a few days before. As artists, the best way to make money is to exploit the copyright. That was just proof that we still have a long way to go in terms of understanding Intellectual Property Rights in my country.

As a filmmaker, I deal a lot with copyright issues. Since film is a collaborative media, we need to get permission from everyone involved in a film to use their work and to exploit it. I am not going to lie, it is a complex matter, I’ve made some mistakes along the way, that is why it’s always better to have an attorney at hand and to go through everything you need with this person before you set out to license and exploit your rights. Always make sure you have the rights to exploit it.

Another issue we deal with every day in film is YouTube. It’s really simple to upload a video, yes, so easy. YouTube has been great at dealing with copyright in music, they will simply take down the video if the person doesn’t have the license for it. But they still haven’t figure out how to protect audiovisual media. I’ve worked with a film in Paraguay, that was a commercial success and very well known around the world. Every month or so I would have to take down a copy of the film that someone uploaded on YouTube, without permission. And let me tell you, it takes some time to fill the form and take it down.

While I was working at the production company that made this film, I would constantly get calls about people wanting to screen the film at their neighbourhoods, church, school, etc. When I told them that there was a licensing fee, they would say something like: “I can just buy the dvd”. Then I would have to explain that the DVD was for private use, that they would be infringing copyright by showing the film to a group of people without permission. Most of the people that I talked to, in the end, didn’t license the film. The ones that did, where the ones that already knew how copyright works.

I am not complaining about our industry, it’s just that intellectual property rights are complex and we need to take it seriously and educate people about it if we want the creative industries to grow in Paraguay. Since our film industry is starting we need to raise the importance of copyright even to the workers, so they can take advantage of their rights and be informed about it. I don’t think we will ever stop learning about copyright.

Below is a very interesting video from about copyright in film. This is a great website to learn more about IPR. Bonus points for being very entertaining and easily to understand.


Topic: IP


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