"Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by e-mail. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this beautifully animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana. Set to the 1920’s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw, Sita Sings the Blues earns its tagline as “The Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told.”"
I hereby give Sita Sings the Blues to you. Like all culture, it belongs to you already, but I am making it explicit with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. Please distribute, copy, share, archive, and show Sita Sings the Blues. From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes.
You don't need my permission to copy, share, publish, archive, show, sell, broadcast, or remix Sita Sings the Blues. Conventional wisdom urges me to demand payment for every use of the film, but then how would people without money get to see it? How widely would the film be disseminated if it were limited by permission and fees? Control offers a false sense of security. The only real security I have is trusting you, trusting culture, and trusting freedom.
That said, my colleagues and I will enforce the Share Alike License. You are not free to copy-restrict ("copyright") or attach "Digital Rights Management" (DRM) to Sita Sings the Blues or its derivative works.
Some of the songs in Sita Sings the Blues are not free, and may never be; copyright law requires you to obey their respective licenses. This is not by my choice; please see our restrictions page for more.
There is the question of how I'll get money from all this. My personal experience confirms audiences are generous and want to support artists. Surely there's a way for this to happen without centrally controlling every transaction. The old business model of coercion and extortion is failing. New models are emerging, and I'm happy to be part of that. But we're still making this up as we go along. You are free to make money with the free content of Sita Sings the Blues, and you are free to share money with me. People have been making money in Free Software for years; it's time for Free Culture to follow. I look forward to your innovations.
If you have questions, please ask each other. If you have ideas, please implement them - you don't need my permission or anyone else's (except for the copyright-restricted songs, of course). If you see abuses, please address them, but don't get bogged down in arcane details of copyright law. The copyright system wants you to think in terms of asking permission; I want you to think in terms of freedom. We've set up this Wiki to get things started. Feel free to improve it!
I've got to get back to my life now, and make some new art. Thanks for your support! This film wouldn't exist without you.
--Nina Paley 28 February, 2009
"I am enchanted. I am swept away. I am smiling from one end of the film to the other. It is astonishingly original. It brings together four entirely separate elements and combines them into a great whimsical chord."
Reply by a BAFTA awards nominee:
I've seen Nina Paley's film (at Klik! Amsterdam Animation Festival) and it's really good (if perhaps about two or three songs too long). I recommend you watch it.
I also appreciate that she is trying to distribute it in a modern way by effectively giving it away and then hoping she will generate revenue from donations or perhaps further or future work.
But I think her arguments are naive and rather than strengthening the position of artists, it actually contributes to a general weakening in the ability of artists to make a living.
I understand that the main reason she's unable to distribute her film in cinemas outside film festivals is that she would need to pay several tens of thousand pounds for the music used in the film. This must be very frustrating for Nina Paley, but part of me thinks... shouldn't she have thought about this when she started the project? It's not exactly secret that using other people's work incurs costs!
If we just make all artistic works free, then how will artists ever develop beyond the first few forays into writing, film, music, etc. No-one expects the plumber to come round and fix your pipes for nothing. If he did, he'd soon give it up and do something else. So why should you expect experienced artists to do the same?
Partly this concept exists because (a) it's so easy to obtain stuff illegally and so there's a collective shrugging of shoulders saying, oh well, let's just give in and give everything away for free, and (b) everyone thinks they can write/make films/write music.
Regarding (b) they'd be right, but only to a point. Anyone who lies is making up a story, but that doesn't mean they have they skills to write a screenplay, or make a really great film. "It takes years of graft to master a craft."
I'm going back to the plumber analogy now! You probably wouldn't employ a plumber whose had a couple of goes at home and says he thinks he knows what he's doing to do your central heating. If you did, you wouldn't expect to pay him. It's the same for writers - you don't want to pay for some youtube video made by an amateur. And there wouldn't be a point - you wouldn't pay to watch it. But if you want experienced artists to develop, they require a roof over their head and food to eat. These things are procured using an arcane but persistent concept known as 'money'.
Nina Paley may well make good money from her Web 2.0 donate-to-me policy. And she will be able to say "Look! It works!" But I don't think it will work for most artists. Remember the Million Dollar Homepage. That worked for one man at one time in history. I think the donate-to-me (Radiohead style) concept will work for a very select few (who are able to drum up lots of column anmd blog inches), but will not work as a general policy for the other artists out there.
Copyright has become a dirty word as observed in a recent article in the ALCS magazine. It shouldn't be. It's simply there to make sure that the artists you love and would like to hear more from are able to continue as artists instead of having to give it up and flip burgers because no-one 'donated' anything to watch their last film.
Myles, The Brothers Mcleod