February 01, 2005

Eyes on the Prize screening by teacher shut down 

posted by Paul Smith @ 5:22 PM
The Eyes on the Prize screening campaign being organized by Downhill Battle has received its first casualty: according to the DB blog, a teacher in Virginia has been forced to cancel a planned viewing of the landmark civil rights documentary on February 8th, by threat of lawsuit from a copyright holder. DB is rightly pissed:
We absolutely cannot believe this - we had never anticipated that anyone would try to stop students and community members from watching a film about the Civil Rights Movement. Apparently, the law firm that contacted them says that the school district does not have the proper licenses. This is really unbelievable-- if there is any fair use, free speech right at all, it applies to screenings of a historical documentary in a school (wikipedia on fair use). This is a public screening in an educational, non-commercial, one-time use setting. Messing with a school district in Virginia is a whole different ballgame, don't you think?
On the bright side, this pushes the issue of absurd and harmful copyright restriction into the fore; hopefully an EFF or similar can step up and challenge this right away. Being Black History Month, there may not be better opportunities for political cover like this.

UPDATE: It's gotten back to Downhill Battle themselves: from their website moments ago:
we have taken down the torrent links to these videos at the request of lawyers for Blackside, Inc. This sucks!
I have to believe they were looking for this fight or at least knew it would come. Luckily, I think this was publicized well-enough amongst the major blogs that I imagine the video got pretty well distributed. Folks with friendly web hosting ought to step up and host torrent trackers …

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