Showing Movies Can Get You Sued

austin-movies-gavelCue the Lawyers

Our little Austin movie night has always focused on non-commercial films, but I just got a rude shock when trying to schedule a screening of a major documentary for this month.

The film is Trouble the Water, an Oscar-nominated documentary about Katrina. It looks great, we have a copy, and we’re in the process of contacting PJ Raval, Austinite and the film’s director of photography, about showing it. We’d love to share it with everyone and have PJ do our usual Q&A afterwards.

Too bad that’s illegal. In fact, I doubt PJ’s approval would be enough to protect us from a lawsuit, should the distributor decide we were a legitimate target. As a result, the movie nights probably aren’t going to start until May.

Austin Movie Nights: Endangered

This means that all the little movie night gatherings around town that show major films are also illegal. That little film-watching group at the coffee shop on the corner? Illegal.

Depending on how busy the lawyers are, maybe all these events are going to be snuffed out, and that’s a pity for all movie lovers.

We’re lucky. Almost always, we show stuff you can’t find at the local video emporium. And now it looks like we don’t have any choice.

Now if only we had more films to show. If you’re a filmmaker or know one, send us your work! We’re also looking for someone to join our screening committee. This is a casual group that meets once a month for two hours, discussing the films we’re considering and picking the best ones. Again, contact us. Thanks!

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2 Responses to “Showing Movies Can Get You Sued”

  1. rick Says:

    So what exactly happened? Someone said you can’t do this? Who/what/where were they from?

    • nomn Says:

      Nope! No lawyers have attacked us yet, but we don’t want to take the chance. Nor do we have the budget (any budget, actually) to buy the public performance rights edition. And that’s the chilling effect.


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