The Little Rascals and copyright absurdity

From Lawrence Lessig’s blog:

Here’s a reductio ad absurdum of folding in the face of copyright overclaiming: “While interviewing students for a documentary about inner-city schools, a filmmaker accidentally captures a television playing in the background, in which you can just make out three seconds of an episode of ‘The Little Rascals.’ He can’t include the interview in his film unless he gets permission from the copyright holder to use the three seconds of TV footage. After dozens of phone calls to The Hal Roach Studios, he is passed along to a company lawyer who tells him that he can include the fleeting glimpse of Alfalfa in his nonprofit film, but only if he’s willing to pay $25,000. He can’t, and so he cuts the entire scene.” Jeffrey Rosen, “Mouse Trap: Disney’s Copyright Conquest,” New Republic, Oct. 28, 2002, p. 12