The great documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself is finally coming out on DVD October 14. I had to catch this years ago on a bootleg DVD that some cinephile friend had managed to track down. While in LA I somehow always managed to miss the annual screening at the American Cinematheque.
It's rare in this age to have things that are actually hard to find. Fans had long assumed the movie wasn't available because all the movie clips would prove impossible to clear, but apparently all the clips were covered under fair use.
Fair use in movies comes down to three questions: Is the clip illustrating an idea that the filmmaker is trying to make in the new work? Is the clip being used in a reasonably appropriate manner? And is the connection clear between the clip and the point being made? If the filmmaker can answer yes to all three questions, then, Donaldson says, it's fair use and the movie can be insured against lawsuits.
I hope this frees people up to do more film analysis online using actual clips from movies. It still feels like an underserved market, perhaps because most people don't want to go to the trouble of tracking down a DVD and ripping it, or perhaps because we're all philistines.