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  1. #1
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    "Eyes on the Prize"

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ide..._shelf?mode=PF


    'Eyes on the Prize,' off the shelf
    Due to copyright issues, the landmark civil rights documentary can no longer be shown on television or released on DVD.
    By Thom Powers | January 16, 2005

    "EYES ON THE PRIZE,'' the epic 1986 documentary series on the civil rights movement, contains a scene showing Martin Luther King Jr. on his 39th birthday -- his last -- in 1968. King, who was trying to take on poverty and the Vietnam War simultaneously, was under tremendous stress at the time, and his staff sang ''Happy Birthday'' in an attempt to cheer him up.

    But the producers of ''Eyes'' almost had to leave the scene out of the finished documentary. ''Happy Birthday,'' as it turns out, was copyrighted in 1935 and, following the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998, will remain so until at least 2030. Filmmakers have been known to pay $15,000 to $20,000 for just one verse, according to a recent report on documentary clearances issued by the Center for Social Media.

    The song ultimately stayed in the film, but don't plan on celebrating King's birthday tomorrow by going to your local video store to buy a copy of ''Eyes on the Prize.'' Thanks to rights restrictions on archival material used in the documentary, the 14-hour chronicle tracing the civil rights movement from the Montgomery bus boycotts in the 1950s to the rise of black mayors in the 1980s can no longer be released in new editions or shown on television. PBS's right to air the film expired in 1993. Meanwhile, the VHS edition has gone out of print and a DVD release would require relicensing. (Complete sets of used videos are currently going for as much as $1,000 on Amazon.)

    The problem goes beyond one documentary. ''We are crippling the story-telling of our own culture by the rigidity of our copyright interpretation,'' says Patricia Aufderheide, who cowrote the Center for Social Media report ''Untold Stories,'' available at www.centerforsocialmedia.org.

    When executive producer Henry Hampton and his Boston-based company Blackside began making ''Eyes on the Prize'' in the 1980s, they faced a particularly complex tangle of copyright issues on photographs, TV news footage, and songs beyond what most documentarians face. Since Hampton's death in 1998, at age 58, a group of his former colleagues have been seeking ways to renew the expired licensing agreements and get the program back on the air and into classrooms. Last year the Ford Foundation, one of the series' original funders, made a $65,000 grant to assess the needs of restoring master tapes, securing new licenses, and, if necessary, re-editing the program to remove images and music that can't be cleared.

    ''The majority of licensors have been hugely cooperative,'' says Sandy Forman, an attorney for Blackside who's overseeing the project. ''One major music licensor has been a holdout. We're optimistic that they will see the light.''

    Wired News, which first reported the initiative last month, cited an outside estimate that it would cost nearly $500,000 to secure the rights. Forman says such estimates are premature until her team concludes its research next month. ''Our goal is to clear rights in perpetuity,'' she says. ''Whether we can do that is unclear, [but] we're optimistic.''

    Rena Kosersky, the series' music rights supervisor, is currently researching what it will take to re-clear 130 other copyrighted songs in the series, including Ray Charles' ''What'd I Say,'' Bob Dylan's ''Blowin' in the Wind'' and -- ironically -- Berry Gordy's ''Money'' (that's what the publishers want). ''Music was a part of the movement in a way that you cannot separate,'' says Kosersky. (As Bernice Johnson Reagon, formerly a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee's Freedom Singers, recalls in one episode, during the thick of the struggle ''there was more singing than talking.'')

    The Ford-funded group hopes to raise funds to get the series back in circulation by 2006 for the 20th anniversary of ''Eyes on the Prize,'' forging ahead in the spirit of another civil rights anthem, ''We Shall Overcome'' -- which is also under copyright.

    Thom Powers is writing a history of American documentary titled ''Stranger Than Fiction.''
    My girlfriend just checked it out of our library here. I suggest you all do the same. It's a great work that provides wonderful knowledge on the subject. Those of you who don't live in the South can't really identify with the issue of race as well as we who do. The fight for racial equality is an ongoing battle that we cannot allow to lapse, else we become doomed to repeat our sad history.

    Learn screening locations or get involved here: http://downhillbattle.org/eyes/
    Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

  2. #2
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    Thanks for the info Orang.
    Derailing topics with varied sidetracks since 2003.

  3. #3
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    i think i will do my part in freeing us from "happy birthday" by refusing to have it sung on my birthday lol.

    14 hours, damn, we discussed this film a bit in my modern american history class... maybe i can find a torrent, oh wait, theyll be just as rabid about copyright infringement as the people they are criticizing....
    TForce550se|brisbane3600@2.4ghz|2x1gb|7900gs@550/800

  4. #4
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    Kind of sucks that copyright issues are going to keep the film from circulating.

    I would like to say that as an alternative they can pay for original music which would cost a lot less if they own the publishing rights and copyrights but I see how it would take a lot away from the film also.




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    Last edited by a cat : yesterday at 05-11-2004 at 11:09 AM

  5. #5
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    It's more than just music that is constraining the redistribution of the series.

    This would be especially good for certain persons who maintain that such discrimination no longer exists or that similar discrimination cannot crop up yet again.
    Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

  6. #6
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    Do you really think this is a discrimination case vs. a legal tangle? I certainly cant imagine Ray Charles having objected to the use of his stuff? Did his passing tangle the effort so far as his music? I read this and wonder:

    "The question of "who owns history," is at the heart of the protest, says "Eyes on the Prize" filmmaker Louis Massiah of Philadelphia."

    Does this position have merit?

    Jacob Zimmerman on January 28, 2005 11:04 PM writes...

    Mr. Guyot is being a bit specious in his remarks. His quote from later on, where he talks about finally 'settling the miasma of who owns Eyes on the Prize' or some such, is misleading. Eyes on the Prize is owned by the estate of Henry Hampton, in the persons of his sisters, to whom it was specifically deeded in Henry's will. The film was made a mere 18 years ago. This is not a dusty 'should be public domain' document. However much Mr. Guyot might wish 'the world' owned Eyes on the Prize, it simply isn't true, yet. Calling on everyone to violate all laws and show it isn't the same 'harm no one' civil disobedience that Martin Jr. practiced back in the day - any more than would have been protesting by walking into a store that didn't serve blacks and stealing its stock.

    -----------------

    Or are you suggesting some folks shouldnt have to be bound by copyright agreement. Or copyright law should somehow be "selective"?
    Last edited by jimzinsocal; 02-09-2005 at 02:28 PM.

  7. #7
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    I was talking about discrimination against certain groups of the population, Jimz.

    Does anyone else find it...well, "interesting", that Mrs. Bush has decided to declare February Heart Health Month? For those of you who don't know, February is also Black History Month.
    Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

  8. #8
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    You dont think February was selected to coincide with Valentines Day[heart reference] but rather an attempt to diminish Black History month? For me? Thats a stretch.
    But I understand and appreciate your thinking. Im not attacking it at all. Mine is different is all.

  9. #9
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    Quote Originally Posted by Orangutan
    I was talking about discrimination against certain groups of the population, Jimz.

    Does anyone else find it...well, "interesting", that Mrs. Bush has decided to declare February Heart Health Month? For those of you who don't know, February is also Black History Month.
    Does anyone else find it...well, "paranoid", that Orang suspects Mrs. Bush may have chosen February specifically to try overshadowing Black History Month?

    Personally, I find it comical that people feel the need for a Black History Month. What's wrong with every month? IMHO, it implies one month ought to cover it. On a tangent, why not Hispanic history month? What about native American history month? I'd much prefer a fair treatment of all history, regardless of the "season". I dunno, sometimes it just seems when a specific time gets set aside for "commemoration", it often fades from the collective memory outside of that selected time.

  10. #10
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    Reminds me of the MOBO awards. Which I find so racist it's not true.

    Will they be re-introducing coloureds only drinking fountains next?

  11. #11
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    Quote Originally Posted by Orangutan
    Does anyone else find it...well, "interesting", that Mrs. Bush has decided to declare February Heart Health Month? For those of you who don't know, February is also Black History Month.
    Sounds like she decided to sponsor a topic that affects every american, very much these days, instead of a month-long celebration of racism. Every month should be AMERICAN history month.

  12. #12
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    When there is no more racism and history is taught equally, then we can end the special occasions. For those who live and were reared in places without long-standing histories of racism, these things are necessary to diminish their ignorance. For those who live and were reared in places with long-standing histories of racisim, these things are necessary that they do not repeat history. I am no more of a fan of preferential treatment than you, I would imagine. Devoting the shortest month of the year to the history of black people in the U.S. isn't what I would designate special treatment, however. Too many people still harbor bigotry, be it for the color of skin, religious practices, or sexual practices. We need to do all in our power to ensure that future generations stopped being reared to hate others. I find this month especially applicable because I live in the South, where racism and xenophobia are alive and well. For outsiders, there are denials of it by the mouths. For insiders and those who know how to look, the bigotry is nearly as thick as it was half a century ago. No, not everywhere, but a good deal many places. This war is far from over, and in fact, seems to be renewing itself. I'll point you to Ronald Reagan's presidential bid starting point of Philadelphia, Mississippi. Want to know what is so special about that place? You can read it here. You'll also take note of the rhetoric of Reagan's address in that place, continually referring to "state's rights", the apologetic justification used by many Southerners (and kindred) for the Civil War.

    Like I said earlier, watch the documentary. That's what this thread is really about.
    Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

  13. #13
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    "Devoting the shortest month of the year to the history of black people in the U.S. isn't what I would designate special treatment"

    Just some historical reference so we dont attach discrimination[implied or assumed] to this statement.^^

    Black History Month was the expansion by the Founder, Dr. Woodson of Harvard[1], of his original Black History Week. This happened in 1976.
    February was chosen by Dr. Woodson to coincide with the birthdays of Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas....not because of the month's brevity.

    Thats a piece of Black History.

    [1] http://www.historychannel.com/blackhistory/
    Last edited by jimzinsocal; 02-10-2005 at 11:13 AM.

  14. #14
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    Thumbs down Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    Quote Originally Posted by myv65
    On a tangent, why not Hispanic history month? What about native American history month?
    http://evans.amedd.army.mil/eo/observances/nhhm.htm
    http://www3.kumc.edu/diversity/ethnic_relig/naihm.html

    Quote Originally Posted by mostholycerebus
    Sounds like she decided to sponsor a topic that affects every american, very much these days, instead of a month-long celebration of racism. Every month should be AMERICAN history month.


    Black History month "celebrates racism"? Just when I thought I had heard it all, more idiocy is added to the board. What Black History Month actually does, is show all the white supremacists (although the will continue to wallow in their own stupidity) that there are black people that have achieved something even though they had to fight through immense barriers of racist hate, they were still able to become successful.

  15. #15
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    Re: "Eyes on the Prize"

    "What Black History Month actually does, is show all the white supremacists (although the will continue to wallow in their own stupidity) that there are black people that have achieved something even though they had to fight through immense barriers of racist hate, they were still able to become successful"

    Do you really think Black History Month was designed to show something/prove something to white supremacists? Dont you think perhaps Woodson was celebrating the accomplishments of blacks? I dont get that "show the whitey" attitude in his biographical materials. It seems to me adopting that posture would equate to a subserviant position....which certainly isnt evident with Woodson.

    http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/blackhis/woodson.htm
    Last edited by jimzinsocal; 02-12-2005 at 06:41 PM.

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