Nina Paley Turns Down Netflix Streaming of Sita

I’ve repeatedly written about and even interviewed Nina Paley, following the course of her experiment with distributing and commercializing her wonderful, feature length film, “Sita Sings the Blues”. I admire Nina the most for embracing the commercialization of her work and really exploring the space of possible business models that might help earn back her considerable investment. She strikes an incredible balance between supporting the open commons and deriving real monetary value from her work in a way I think is ethically sustainable.

I first became aware of her most recent challenge when she put a call out via Facebook yesterday. She asking for advice on whether she should authorize “Sita” for streaming via Netflix’s online service. At issue is whether the DRM used by the video rental company was a step too far.

She shared a post today offering more details of how this question came up and her thought process around the opportunity. Like Cory Doctorow’s investigations into the DRM used by Audible, she tried to find out if she could first get an exception to the DRM used by Netflix. Failing that, she asked if they would run a pre-roll message indicating the film is available for download, without DRM, and where to find it. That also was a no go.

Ultimately, John Gilmore convinced her that the greater reach of Netflix’s streaming was not worth sacrificing her principles on avoiding DRM as it foils the free spread of works. I love her concluding thought, seeing her bring the same courage and experimental spirit to this question that has guided the film’s spread so far.

What I want to know is, where can we “Sita” fans write to let Netflix know that we would gladly stream the film if only they would offer creators a DRM-free option?

TCLP 2010-02-24 Interview: Nina Paley

This is a feature cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

No listener feedback this week.

Due to the length of the interview, there is also no new hacker word of the week this week.

The feature this week is an interview with cartoonist and animator, Nina Paley, creator of “Sita Sings the Blues“. I’ve spoken and written about Nina’s story before, the troubles clearing her use of Annette Hanshaw’s torch songs that led her to work with Karl Fogel at In the course of the interview, we also mention the store for “Sita” merchandise , the creator endorsed mark, “Minute Memes“, the “Sita” soundtrack by Todd Michaelsen, “Sita” on a persistence of vision wheel based display, and Bill Cheswick’s poster made from every frame of “Sita”. Sadly, by the time you hear this, you’ll have missed her talk at AU but I discuss it a bit in the intro to this episode.


Grab the detailed show notes with time offsets and additional links either as PDF or OPML. You can also grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

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Following Up for the Week Ending 12/6/2009