Question by SUPERMAN: How do the laws justify encroaching upon free speech, in order to limit filmmakers from portraying things?
Why can’t a filmmaker show or have dialogue about something owned by someone else, or film wherever they have public access– when films are constantly being protected in other ways, under citations of the Freedom of Speech? Shouldn’t filmmakers be able to represent the world around them, without those kinds of limitations? Documentaries seem to be able to include just about anything they want– so on what basis do the laws prevent filmmakers from the same freedom to include fact, truths, and existing things into feature films? I would think that concerns about defamation would be handled on a case by case basis, and that negative statements should be able to be proven by external findings– and that other than that, any mention of something owned by someone else is fair and equal in that it provides valuable free advertising. So is it simply that the laws have sided with companies who just want to make more money whenever a filmmaker films or includes something that they own– even though there is not necessarily any wear and tear or actual usage of that property? I really would like to know, and please share links to any court cases that have been instrumental in the creation of these laws. And I’d especially like to know if I’m misunderstanding the nature of the laws regarding this issue– because either way, they certainly are difficult to understand.
Answer by Cat Stache
I honestly don’t understand what your question is and I went to film school. Eeek! A documentary film is a genre of feature films like drama or comedy, but other than that there is zero difference.
“Documentaries seem to be able to include just about anything they want– so on what basis do the laws prevent filmmakers from the same freedom to include fact, truths, and existing things into feature films?”
For one thing, documentary films follow, investigate, and report on a specific subject matter. They are not allowed to include “anything they want.” They show what they can and it is up to the audience to determine if the portrayal is positive or negative – all subjective. You can have a negative topic like Human Trafficking or you can have a documentary on something like Super Size Me. where the sole purpose is simply to seek and promote the truth.
“I would think that concerns about defamation would be handled on a case by case basis, and that negative statements should be able to be proven by external findings…”
Film companies are huge billion dollar corporations with numerous lawyers at their disposal. Attempts to go up against film and/or production companies in court are rarely successful, lead to more damaging media exposure, and can ruin a career (case in point, Kim Basinger). So no one is eager to go to court and go after a filmmaker although some have. Just Google “documentary film sued for defamation” and you’ll find some goodies.
Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!