Mike Stoklasa of Red Letter Media just recently released his new review of Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. If you haven’t already seen his Phantom Menace review, you’re missing one of the best things to come out of the interweb pipes. Seriously, don’t click these links unless you are ready to spend a good three hours of your day watching both reviews back to back (each review consists of about 10 episodes of 10 minutes each). I’ve written about him before - how I truly think he’s single-handedly created one of the more innovative new art forms online; I hope it changes film criticism as we know it and I think watching it gives the average creative viewer about a hundred new ideas for and/or about story-telling, criticism and new directions for remix, mash-up, copyright and creative practice to name just a few things. But I’m not writing this to help you discover the latest viral video sensation - the web does that fine without my help - but to point out that we’re in danger of missing out on more of these genius pieces because of fear. As both TechDirt and MTV have mentioned in the past few days, Mike is terrified to death that Lucas will sue him (to death) and is contemplating an end to his creative practice.
As reported in the MTV interview:
"...not 48 hours after its initial posting Saturday night, the first segment of the review was taken down by the popular video sharing service, "ostensibly" after a copyright claim by Cartoon Network.
"Was it really Cartoon Network or not? I don't know," Stoklasa sighed. "There was someone who started a rumor that it was a specific YouTube user who had copied the first part over to his channel and then put a link to his Web site in the description. But YouTube doesn't tell you who flagged it."
He goes on to say:
“The thing is, I'm no lawyer. But I had someone actually talk to a copyright lawyer, and they didn't know what to make of the reviews. It's a new thing, You can get away with using a clip from a movie for the purpose of review or commentary, but can you dissect an entire film like that? There's commentary and it's part satire [because of the character, Mr. Plinkett] and part review and part educational as well because there's elements of filmmaking insights."
This is how our copyright system works against creativity - because the rules aren’t always clear and fair use can only be defended if sued, the mere fear of a lawsuit stops people from innovating. Now, I think he has a clearly winnable case, and it’s far from clear that he’s received even the slightest legitimate threat of a suit, but the point is - this is clearly creative work that should be encouraged, not stopped (I can see why Lucas might not like it, but that’s tough luck, kid). Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi have done some great work clarifying fair use, as has Michael Donaldson and many others. I’m sure if needed, some team that includes them and probably the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) can step up to his defense - and they will likely win. In the comments section to the TechDirt post, Nina Paley weighed in saying we should start a legal defense fund to support Red Letter Films if he is sued. So I, like Nina the filmmaker and Mike Masnick the writer am just chiming in to say - yo, Stoklasa - keep making review films, don’t worry about lawsuits - if they come, I’ll join the Kickstarter campaign to fund your defense. A few other things - yo, filmmakers and critics - follow his lead and make more creative reviews like this - a flood of them might help - a tsunami of remix reviews is a hard thing to stop. Yo- film festivals - program his reviews in their entirety as midnight screenings. The audience reaction will likely be amazing - and it will prove you can program something that's available completely for free everywhere, and still make money!
Here's part one of the new review: