We were deeply troubled to read this week in the LA Times of significant legal challenges to the First Amendment rights of a documentary filmmaker.
Joe Berlinger made a documentary about Aguinda v. Chevron, a class action lawsuit filed in 1993 against Chevron’s oil operation in Ecuador. Chevron is demanding all Joe’s outtakes — more than 600 hours of video material — as part of their legal defense. Is this an issue of First Amendment rights, trying to uncover the truth, or a large corporations acting as a bully? One judge in a lower court has already ruled in favor of Chevron requiring Berlinger to surrender his footage. On Wednesday, July 14, U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments. And the impact for filmmakers could not be more significant.
This case raises issues of: Who is a journalist? What constitutes free speech in documentary filmmaking? What rights, if any, does a corporation have to media shot by someone that is not a corporate employee.
This week’s Digital Production Buzz featured Jonathan Handel, Of Counsel, Troy/Gould, talking about the First Amendment implications and ramifications of Chevron Oil’s case against documentary filmmaker, Joe Berlinger.
This is an interview that everyone interested in documentary film production needs to hear. Because if the wrong side wins, the effect could be chilling.
It took the Appeals Court exactly a day to reach a preliminary decision. Listen to learn more.
Click here to listen to the interview.
Click here to listen to the entire program.
Click here to read the original LA Times article.
And click here to read the followup article on the Court’s ruling.
Please tell your friends about this interview – because the results affect all of us.
P.S. Click here to learn more about the Digital Production Buzz.
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