It seems every fourth question I get has the word “rights” in it: “Do I need the rights to…”, “How do I get the rights to…”, “Im not a gud speller I like to rights…”
Reader Chris Little wrote in to point out this terrific comic book — Tales from the Public Domain: BOUND BY LAW? It’s prepared by Duke University’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain. Not only does it describe situations where you have to be careful, it points out the absurdities of modern copyright law, where a cell phone ringing in the background can cost you $10,000.
A lot of the information skews toward documentary filmmaking, but it’s useful for anyone interested in portraying reality, and the near-impossibility of doing it as long as everything is protected by copyright.
You can read it all (for free!) here.