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Helmer Noyce hits Hill to lobby for artists’ rights

Phillip Noyce – the helmer of “Clear and Present Danger,” who was furious when key footage from his film was “borrowed” for use in the Paramount TV show “JAG” – was on Capitol Hill Dec. 8 to lobby for tougher film labeling legislation.

Noyce was joined by representatives from the Directors Guild of America, which has relentlessly pursued strong moral rights legislation. At issue is a bill backed by the DGA, screenwriters and cinematographers requiring films altered or colorized for TV, airplanes or homevideo to carry disclaimers listing the objections of the pic’s creative artists.

Though for years the Motion Picture Assn. of America has successfully fought to keep the film labeling bill bottled up in congressional committees, DGA representatives think Paramount’s use of “Clear and Present Danger” footage in “JAG” could bolster their support in Congress.

The Nov. 11 segment of “JAG” included the memorable “kill zone” scene from the film, in which Jack Ryan, played by actor Harrison Ford, attempts to maneuver his van through a small street to avoid being shot by terrorists. Paramount later apologized for using the scene, saying it “may have gone too far” in an effort “to make the best television show possible.”

Paramount was legally permitted to use the “kill zone” scene because the studio owns the copyright to both the film and the TV show. But Noyce claims the studio’s use of the scene exposes a weakness in U.S. copyright law, and makes it all the more necessary for Congress to pass a law giving more intellectual property protection to creative authors of films.

“In a digital world, the chances for distortion of film are increasing exponentially,” said Noyce.

Noyce aired his copyright gripes before a group of lawmakers including Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Robert Bennett (R-Utah).

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