Filmmaker Nina Paley frees Copyright for Art and Profit
Nina Paley knew she was bucking the prevailing wisdom when she released her animated feature film under a copyright license so liberal that it was just shy of putting the film in the public domain.
The surprise came when her film, Sita Sings the Blues , grossed more than six times more in its first year than any distributor had offered as an advance.
While trying to market the film, one reputable distributor told her that she might realistically expect to make $25,000 over a 10-year contract, perhaps $50,000 in her wildest dreams. The highest advance she was offered by a distributor was $20,000.
Rather than sign with a distributor, Paley opted to work with nonprofit organization Question Copyright. They made digital files freely available on the Internet, relied on word-of-mouth and modest promotion to spread its name, and then counted on audiences and exhibitors wanting to be on the artist’s side.