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Good Morning Hollywood, April 6: The Copyright Mess

Copyright law needs an overhaul, and life is tough for the poor movie star

In this morning’s roundup of movie news ‘n’ notes from around the web, copyright law needs an overhaul, and life is tough for the poor movie star.

Does U.S. copyright law need to be completely overhauled? Copyright lawyer Ben Sheffner thinks it might, and in the Hollywood Reporter he lays out, in eight persuasive paragraphs, why it doesn’t really work for anybody, and Congress ought to rewrite that “swollen, barnacle-encrusted collection of incomprehensible prose.” Then he uses the last few paragraphs of his piece explaining why that’ll never happen, why at best we’ll see a little tinkering. In other words: never mind. (THR, Esq)

Tron: LegacyNobody these days is doing a viral film-marketing campaign quite like Warner Bros. and “Inception,” but Disney has been stirring up significant interest with its campaign for “Tron: Legacy,” its upcoming sequel to the unsuccessful (but influential) 1982 film “Tron.” Cinematical wonders if the Disney campaign is working, and examines what it describes as two disorganized and confusing events at WonderCon last Friday night. “[P]roducers of these campaigns,” writes Todd Gilchrist, “and by extension the studios themselves, must dance a delicate line between generating interest in new and upcoming films and exasperating those same fans by making them jump through too many hoops to make the payoff – meaning the movie – unworthy of that effort.” (Cinematical)

Patrick Goldstein uses 3D to offer a lament for the poor movie star: “If there was ever a new technology that made movie stars feel even less indispensable and more outmoded than they already are, it would be 3D.” As Hollywood chases the trend, he says, stars will become more and more dispensable, caught between the little movies that can’t afford them and the big ones that no longer need them because “the vast majority of 3-D films already have their own built-in marketing hooks.” Curiously, Goldstein ends by saying that Hollywood is “getting it right” by pursuing the trend — because “in Hollywood, judging from past experience, when a trend is red hot, you can bet that the money people will follow that trend everywhere, even if it eventually takes them sailing off a cliff.” Not the most persuasive argument, in my book. (The Big Picture)

The AFI Fest, which generally runs in November in Los Angeles, is now accepting submissions.  The deadline for shorts is July 30, for features it’s August 13.  Bad Lit has some of the details, and a link to the Withoutabox submission form.  As they were last year, all screenings will be free of charge to the public.  (Bad Lit

A publicist investigates the process for getting your trailer onto the iTunes Movie Trailers site.  It’s free, but you need a legitimate theatrical release.  It also helps to have an MPAA-approved trailer, though iTunes will consider independent trailers "on a time/space available basis."  (Sheri Candler Marketing & Publicity)

“The history of American indie film happens to be dominated by lowlifes and inarticulates,” says Vadim Rizov. He’s not talking about the filmmakers, but about their preferred subject matter, which he attributes to the influence of “the godfathers of independent film,” John Cassavetes and Melvin van Peebles, whose fascination with the lowbrow created an entire indie ethic. The argument may be on th simplistic side – I mean, there’s obviously more to independent film than odes to the marginalized – but I suppose it’s a reasonable take on the subject. (IFC.com

Here’s a story on what “Clash of the Titans” hath wrought that doesn’t point to 3D as the big lesson we can take away from that film’s success. Instead, Susan Wloszczyna and Maria Puente point to “myth-based tales of the past” as a new Hollywood trend, with examples like “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” (inspired by a video game), “The Last Airbender” (a Nickleodeon series), “The Eagle of the Ninth” (a 1954 novel) and “In the Beginning” (the Old Testament). They also include a few films that are more directly based on mythology, including “Immortals” and “Thor,” although for the most part they find the trend by really stretching the genre. (USA Today)

Martha Nichols sees in M. Night Shyamalan’s film “The Last Airbender” a primer on Hollywood’s casting practices, and isn’t impressed with what she finds. Though he’s working with an anime-inspired franchise (“there’s no better illustration of the global melting pot”), Shyamalan’s film has white actors in three of the main roles that would be expected to go to Asians, and she doesn’t buy his explanation that it’s all about “multicultural appreciation.” (Salon