As part of their ever-expanding interaction with the fan community, the producers of Battlestar Galactica have announced a competition allowing fans access to selected BSG clips, sounds and music which they can mix with their own footage to create new videos. As their instructions explain:
Be a part of Battlestar Galactica!
We’re giving you sound and visual effects and music clips that you can use to create and share your own four-minute Battlestar videos.
Create your own mock commercials, short scenes or even mini-episodes — funny or dramatic. Choose from more than 30 visual effects, 20-plus audio effects and cuts from the show’s soundtrack, specially selected to help give your videos the Battlestar look and sound. Use them to make your video, add the required promo clip at the end, and send it to us!
Battlestar Galactica executive producer David Eick will choose one video to broadcast in full on SCI FI Channel during an upcoming Battlestar episode.
This sounds fantastic off the bat. Certainly I’d love to have a play and try out my sorely under-used editing skills. However, the instructions also come with these rules:
Your video can’t be longer than four minutes. Don’t use footage you don’t create yourself or that you didn’t get from the Battlestar Videomaker Toolkit.
Do not use any music for which you don’t have the rights.
Do not include images, photos, logos or artwork that you did not create or to which you don’t hold the rights (such as pictures from magazines, books and other Web sites).
No inappropriate content. If we can’t show it on network TV in prime time, don’t put it in your video.
Do not post your film on other sites, such as YouTube, MySpace, Google, etc.
You must be a legal resident of the United States and over the age of 18.
So, once again, the Battlestar Galactica franchise is treated as a purely US property. While I sympathise with the demands and difficulties of copyright, I have to concur with the forums in my disappointment that these wonderful fan-engaging opportunities are not open to the wider, global BSG community. This is another instance of what I have called the tyrrany of digital distance.
Also problematic is the notion that these videos can’t be uploaded elsewhere – be it YouTube, MySpace or similar. I imagine such restrictions disuade some fans or simply get ignored (and its not like YouTube currently lacks BSG fan-made films).
All of that said, I commend the producers of BSG for this initiative, I just hope they can widen both the level of participation and allow fans broader rights to distribute (not profit from, just distribute) the fan films they’ll be creating.