Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bush Auctions Off Access To Smithsonian

A clutch of major documentary filmmakers are protesting the secret deal between the Smithsonian and Showtime cable channel to create a new commercial channel that would have the right of first refusal for any documentary that made use of the Smithsonian to a substantial degree. In short, if you want to folm at the Smithsonian or make use of its resources or interview its experts, you might very well have to turn over your film to the Smithsonian. Imagine if the Library of Congress demanded the right to publish every book that was written by people who did most of their research in its archives? The Smithsonian says, "Trust us." but they refuse to detail the agreement between it and Showtime (aren't they a PUBLIC trust?) and refuse to back out of the deal. And what does this accomplish? Do they really think they're going to garner a tidal wave of cash with an on-demand cable channel filled with wonky documentaries? Ridiculous.

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