Peter Livingston, a former production manager in Hollywood, is taking three major studios to federal court in San Francisco, charging that they refused to let him use clips from their films in “Over Nine Billion Dead Served,” his antiwar documentary chronicling the portrayal of death and violence in the 25 most popular movies of all time.
According to Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Livingston says that Fox, Sony and Universal studios threatened to sue him and that an unnamed studio demanded that his film be destroyed. None could be reached for comment. In the court case, filed on Dec. 5, he asked for legal permission to screen the 83-minute film, overriding the objections of the studios to which he had shown it. Because the film festival circuit requires a guarantee that material is not liable in any lawsuit, Livingston needs an official go-ahead to enter his documentary in festivals.
Though the fair-use doctrine decrees that copyrighted material be made available if intended primarily for criticism or education rather than for profit, the studios declined permission, he maintains. The studios offered no reason for their refusal.
-- Elaine Dutka