Matthew Bietz —  April 22, 2007 — Leave a comment

We just got back from seeing C.R.A.Z.Y. as part of the FilmOut San Diego film festival. It’s a great movie. Coming of age/coming out story, a theme that has been done and done and overdone (and is the staple of every gay film festival ever). But this one is fresh, well acted, well directed, and all-around good. It’s won huge numbers of awards and gotten great reviews. It’s from Quebec. And in French.

You should go see it. Unless you live in the US. Then you probably can’t.

You see, this is another one of those wonderful moments when copyright law bites art in the ass. This was a pretty low budget film (about $7 million). But it’s got all kinds of great music (Patsy Cline, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, The Cure, etc.). It’s such great music that the music rights cost over CDN$600,000. And that doesn’t include distribution rights in the United States.

And so, the only way this film shows in the US is by getting “festival rights” for the music. Basically, the movie can only be shown at non-profit film festivals, and for a limited time.

I’m with Lawrence Lessig (and many others) on this one: I’m all for artists being able to get paid when other people use their work. But nobody is served by licensing costs and copyright restrictions that are so onerous that the movie never gets seen.

Matthew Bietz


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