TOA/V: Sita Sings the Blues

I’ve neglected TOA/V for far too long, but I have the excuse of being really really busy. And adjusting to the fact that I am really really busy. That year of idling went to my head. I’m not fit for regular work that includes talking to lots of people. I prefer the voices in my head for sure (I can tell them to shut up; doesn’t work so well outside my head).

Here’s a lovely animated film with a mash up of the modern and the mythical: Sita Sings the Blues is a gorgeous film. It won or was nominated for a slew of awards. Its history highlights some of the corporate shenanigans that have made copyright a corrupt and cynical process. Yet Nina Paley has given her film to you. Meditate on that gift and why she has done so. Let’s have her tell you about it:

Dear Audience,
I hereby give Sita Sings the Blues to you. Like all culture, it belongs to you already, but I am making it explicit with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. Please distribute, copy, share, archive, and show Sita Sings the Blues. From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes.
You don’t need my permission to copy, share, publish, archive, show, sell, broadcast, or remix Sita Sings the Blues. Conventional wisdom urges me to demand payment for every use of the film, but then how would people without money get to see it? How widely would the film be disseminated if it were limited by permission and fees? Control offers a false sense of security. The only real security I have is trusting you, trusting culture, and trusting freedom.
That said, my colleagues and I will enforce the Share Alike License. You are not free to copy-restrict (“copyright”) or attach Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) to Sita Sings the Blues or its derivative works.
Some of the songs in Sita Sings the Blues are not free, and may never be; copyright law requires you to obey their respective licenses. This is not by my choice; please see our restrictions page for more.
There is the question of how I’ll get money from all this. My personal experience confirms audiences are generous and want to support artists. Surely there’s a way for this to happen without centrally controlling every transaction. The old business model of coercion and extortion is failing. New models are emerging, and I’m happy to be part of that. But we’re still making this up as we go along. You are free to make money with the free content of Sita Sings the Blues, and you are free to share money with me. People have been making money in Free Software for years; it’s time for Free Culture to follow. I look forward to your innovations.
If you have questions, please ask each other. If you have ideas, please implement them – you don’t need my permission or anyone else’s (except for the copyright-restricted songs, of course).  If you see abuses, please address them, but don’t get bogged down in arcane details of copyright law.  The copyright system wants you to think in terms of asking permission; I want you to think in terms of freedom. We’ve set up this Wiki to get things started. Feel free to improve it!
I’ve got to get back to my life now, and make some new art. Thanks for your support! This film wouldn’t exist without you.
–Nina Paley
28 February, 2009

I love the people trying to reconstruct the Sita & Rama myth and the music (that caused so many problems!) and the evocation of the mythic in the animation style. Wonderful stuff! Drop by Todd’s blog for a roundup of gems you may have missed.

Buy the CD – or other goodies!


  1. Todd Mason says:

    Thanks! This has all gotten completely past me till now, and I look forward to watching it…and checking into its history…

    1. katelaity says:

      It’s a terrific film and the 20s jazz is just a knockout.

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