The decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, coming a day after they heard arguments from both sides, is not a surprise. But director Joe Berlinger must turn over all footage that shows counsel for the plaintiffs who are suing Chevron in Ecuador, as well as footage of private or court appointed experts and government officials.
Chevron also has to use the footage for its litigation, arbitration or for submission to official bodies. Berlinger’s attorneys had argued for such a provision because of fears that the oil giant would use it in P.R. campaigns.
The three judges, Pierre Leval, Barrington Parker and Peter Hall, said an opinion is coming.
In May, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that Berlinger must turn over all 600 hours of outtakes from “Crude,” which was released last year. The litigation that Chevron faces in Ecuador is the subject of his project.
Berlinger said that he was “extremely pleased” with the ruling and that the new order represents a “significant reduction” in the scope of the original subpoena.
He said in a statement: “Since the court issued its Order without yet a corresponding legal opinion, I must reserve my full analysis of the results until the three-judge panel’s opinion is rendered. However, I can say that we are extremely pleased with today’s results. The appeals court has substantially limited Judge Kaplan’s overbroad order, which was the main thrust of our appeal. Furthermore, the court has expressly prohibited Chevron from using any footage we do turn over in their public relations campaigns, a goal that was extremely important to me.
“I am gratified that by adhering to the basic standards of the journalist’s privilege articulated in the previous precedent setting case Gonzalez vs. NBC, the appeals court for the Second Circuit has affirmed that documentary filmmakers are no different than any other journalists deserving First Amendment protection. I am deeply grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support that the artistic, media and journalist communities have shown towards this case in the past three months. It was precisely this support that gave me and my legal team at Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz the strength to stand up for these very important foundations of American democracy.”