Nina Paley’s animated feature Sita Sings the Blues is the subject of a write-up in this Sunday’s NY Times. It’s a delight to see such a deserving piece of indie animation receive copious amounts of attention from the mainstream media. Of particular interest are the latest developments in how Nina is tackling the film’s music copyright issues and finding a way to make her film available for public consumption:
Because of an exception in the copyright act, public television stations can broadcast music without having to clear individual licenses, and “Sita” will be shown on the New York PBS station WNET on March 7, after which it will be available on the station’s Web site. “My thing,” Ms. Paley said in November, sounding glum, “is that I just want people to see it.”
Recently, though, the licensing fee was negotiated down to approximately $50,000, and “Sita” is close to being sprung from what Ms. Paley calls “copyright jail.” Still, she hopes to release it in a manner as alternative as her film. Using the free software movement – dedicated to spreading information without copyright restrictions – as her model, she has decided to offer “Sita” at no charge online and let the public become her distributor.