Whenever I go to Manhattan these days, I run into street vendors who promise to sell me hot new releases which are still in the theaters and who hastily but imperfectly cover their wares whenever a beat cop walks by. The cop, in turn, pretends not to see the transactions which take place.
Given this context, it is a little alarming to hear the story of John Fucile, an award-winning filmmaker and a theorist of digital cinema, who found himself arrested for selling his own movies on the streets of Manhattan. Over the next six months, he would find himself in a heated legal battle during which the prosecutors tried to argue that his films did not constitute artistic expression and did not enjoy First Ammendment protection. In the end, the courts upheld the rights of grassroots media producers and distributors.
Fucile shares some of his experiences in an interview currently posted at Braintrust.