Copyright Law

Documentary Tests Fair Use

Posted Aug 17, 2007 7:27 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A new documentary called “War Made Easy” tests fair use law by using unlicensed network news footage.

The producers paid for about 60 percent of the clips and contend they are permitted to use the other footage under fair-use provisions of federal copyright law, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The documentary, made by a nonprofit group, contends the networks idolize the military during war. One 1965 clip shows Walter Cronkite stepping out of a plane after a U.S. bombing mission in Vietnam. Cronkite tells a crew member, "Well, Colonel, it's a great way to go to war."

Loretta Alper, producer and co-writer of the film, says the clips are needed to make out a case against the media.

"The film is definitely a challenge to the fair-use laws," she told the Chronicle. "But we think we are on solid legal ground. This is criticism, and you can't do criticism without showing what you're criticizing."

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