On April 3rd, the Milstein Family Foundation and the Israel Video Network announced the winners of the “Inspired by Israel” video contest. For this contest, filmmakers from around the world were asked to create entertaining and informative videos about the state of Israel. The $7,500 grand prize winner was a student from USC named Rachel L. Here’s her entry:
That’s an amazing video and it genuinely deepened my knowledge of, and respect for, Israel. But there’s a big problem with the entry. The “filmmaker” didn’t actually make any of the film. Except for a few graphics, it looks like all of the video was taken from new stories and other sources. Even the music (One Call Away by Charlie Puth) was presumably used without permission. The rules were very clear that the entries could only include original, non-copyrighted material:
Videos must contain only original material. Submissions cannot contain copyrighted music or images, unless they have authorization of proof to use them or they fall under generally accepted fair use guidelines. When filming people, participants must ensure the subjects have given their consent. By submitting a video to this contest you affirm that no copyright law has been infringed on.
I guess an argument could be made that this entry constitutes “fair use” but that argument would simply be incorrect. You can’t just take existing works and cut them together to create a new work, even if that new work is a documentary. The accepted (but unofficial) fair use guidelines state that existing works must be credited and used sparingly. But even if the judges did feel that this was fair use, there’s zero chance in the world that the winner tried to get the consent of any of the people (especially those that were sick, trapped or suffering) that were featured in this video.
So even though this entry was really, really good, the judges should have booted it from the competition. I didn’t enter this particular contest but I’ve lost plenty of prizes to filmmakers who should have been disqualified. But when that happens, I never get mad at the winning contestants. My rule is “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” In this particular case, Rachel L. took a gamble and guess what, it paid off. It’s not her fault the judges decided to throw their own rules out the window. So keep that in mind the next time you get screwed out of a prize. You can be mad at the judges, but don’t hate on the winner. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.