- mmm food!
- No! Og's food, Og alpha male!
- Don't be absurd! this food is
a manifestation of our local fertility goddess!
She 's always provided food to sustain the tribe!
besides, you can't possibly eat all this yourself,
it 'll just rot
-Og, not care, Og beat you up! if you even touch food
-But what will I eat?
-Ah! you work for Og!
Do Og's bidding, then Og generously give you food!
Remember! World not owe you a living!
While trying to market the film, one reputable distributor told her that she might realistically expect to make $25,000 over a 10-year contract, perhaps $50,000 in her wildest dreams. The highest advance she was offered by a distributor was $20,000.
Rather than sign with a distributor, Paley opted to work with nonprofit organization Question Copyright. They made digital files freely available on the Internet, relied on word-of-mouth and modest promotion to spread its name, and then counted on audiences and exhibitors wanting to be on the artist’s side.
The model they chose is meant to encourage sharing and makes the artist the focal point, but not the exclusive owner, of economic activity surrounding the work.
The approach was a huge success. From March 2009 to March 2010, “Sita Sings the Blues” brought in $132,259, nearly $75,000 in donations and voluntary fees from screenings and broadcast, $12,500 from awards, and $45,000 in merchandise sales from the film’s website. The film is meant as a contemporary take on the “Ramayana,” and parallel’s Paley’s breakup with her husband.
“I fundamentally believe you cannot own art and treat it as property,” said Paley.
Paley’s contrarian view of copyright came partly from her experience in securing the rights to use the music of 1920s American singer Annette Hanshaw. Although Hanshaw’s recorded songs are in the public domain, the compositions are still under copyright. Paley was enchanted when she discovered Hanshaw’s relatively unknown work and believes copyright actually helped keep her songs obscure.
“I did not want that to happen to my film,” said Paley.
She ultimately borrowed $70,000 to secure the rights to Hanshaw’s songs. The copyright owners were unwilling to negotiate a lower price, even though putting the songs in a film would arguably increase their commercial value by making them better known. According to Paley, “The cost of having their lawyers negotiate a new agreement would have been more than the fees they were charging.”