More Deaths Foretold

Similarities with Chico Mendes, but also with Martin Luther King.


I may not get there with you.

Quote Ze Claudio:

In 1995 I and Stuart Tanner spent a year in southern Para, the area Ze Claudio came from, making a film for Channel 4’s Dispatches. We were investigating the theft of timber from indigenous reserves for export to the UK. Six years later I was there again, filming the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).

Landed oligarchy – remember how they expelled me but were unperturbed by the presence of a local TV crew. All it would take was one phone call to the local station for the item to be pulled. (I was grateful to this crew for rescuing me from the roadside).


An ear removed from both Ze and Maria – like the scalping of native Americans, and I recall that in the 1980s, the wife of one major landowner for sending on those ears to the families of the victims.

Let’s walk the walk for independent media

How can we really build a vibrant and quality independent media, rather than just hope for one?

Part 1: By creative commons licensing

All the films we have shot ourselves at #visionontv are distributed creative commons, as is the whole of this website. We use this license:


The license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This is vital for the building of free and independent media, but lots of film makers find this idea quite threatening.

So here’s an FAQ to allay your fears!

I don’t want to lose my ownership of the footage by making it copyleft.

Creative commons isn’t copyleft – it’s a copyright license. You’re just allowing some people to use it under the same terms, crediting you when they do it.

The BBC told me that they didn’t have to pay for my footage, because it was creative commons.

The corporate media often tries this line, but they are “commercial”, and your filmwork is your copyright. One of my favourites, from a production company working for Channel 4 UK, was “we found it on youtube, so don’t have to pay”. Sorry, you do. If they use it without asking, send them a bill.

But I’m worried about people cutting my footage into whatever film, outside of my control…..

They have to credit their use, and in my experience I have basically agreed with all the films which have used my shots. Surely it’s good to get your stuff out there as much as possible?

What about the artistic integrity of my original film?

Well, that still exists, right? There is actually a creative commons license specifying “no derivative works”, but why lock up your footage in one version only? Mozart wrote the Magic Flute for a troupe that had lampooned his previous work. Good enough for him, definitely good enough for me. And because of the “sharealike” clause, every use of your material guarantees more media available for the creative community.

My contributors have only released their work to this one film…..

You should never promise this to your contributors, because it is meaningless in the digital world. Let’s imagine a worst possible case for them, where their contribution was ripped to shreds as a “satire” by a member of the Tea Party and published to youtube. Under the Californian law which covers google’s video-sharing behemoth this copyright violation is permitted as “fair use”, a basic protection of freedom of speech. In reality this almost never happens.

But you said your entire project was creative commons. What stops someone from simply taking your whole site and rebranding it as theirs?

They would have to give credit, but yes, they could do that, which would be absolutely brilliant. It would be weird if they didn’t add something (conspiracy theory films? Extreme sports?). In which case, if we liked what they added, which in the case of extreme sports is possible, we could put it in our site as well. Everyone gains, and we make the world a better place.

Creative commons is one of the key ways we can build an open and better media. Part 2 will deal with media rss.

Facebook Follies

With over 50 UK-based activist groups deleted by facebook prior to the Royal Wedding last Friday, we have a great opportunity to reassess our relationship to this social media monolith.

Let’s be clear. As activists, we would be pretty dumb and self-defeating not to use facebook, which holds accounts for 1 in 12 of the world’s population.

It makes absolutely no sense to be using an unconnected parallel network with a small fraction of the members.

But facebook has a basic structure very unsuitable for campaigns and activism. Let’s define it politically and ideologically. It is designed to be a network of individuals who connect to their “friends”. The full set of features, for instance the crucial facility to direct-message people, is only given to individuals. The suggestion that activist groups should set up “pages” rather than “profiles” is impractical for this reason. At base, facebook is designed to allow people to group themselves, but only within the walls of fb itself. Pre-existing groups, or groups with a life of their own, violate the terms and conditions and can be closed at any time. This fundamental facebook structure feeds the server / client relationship beloved of corporations (they serve us content, which we consume), rather than the horizontal peer-to-peer network on which the internet is based (we can all be content producers sharing with each other – this latter is the corporate nightmare). To adapt Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”, facebook’s insistence that “you’re all individuals” should cause us all to shout “we’re not!”

So what we need to be doing when we post to facebook is constantly linking to networks and resources outside of it, to net the fb user fish and take them out to safer, clearer, more sustaining waters.

And more broadly, to quote Aaron Peters, “this requires us to start using and building viable alternatives that are in every sense of the word ‘ours’, meaning that they are commons-based in production, distribution and ownership.”

visionOntv is currently working on tools that will enable our site to live within facebook as itself, a plan which knocks holes in the infamous fb walled garden. Watch this space!

There is an open meeting on Thursday May 5 for people to stand up to the latest attacks on our civil liberties, organized on, er, facebook.

Radical Media?….. or just more corporate adverts?

A global media company that makes adverts has trademarked the phrase ‘radical media’ and is threatening legal action against grassroots media groups covering radical politics for using ‘radical media’ in the title of a conference this October.






It’s corporate globalisation gone mad.
A protest is being held at Radical Media’s London office on World Press Freedom Day to tell them ‘We make radical media, you make adverts’.

Check out Radical Media’s adverts:
Talk to them on Twitter: @radicalmedia

Protest on Tuesday, May 3 · 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Location Radical Media London office
1 Alfred Mews

If you are involved in radical media work, then consider adding your name to this letter.

Dear friends,
In response to’s attempts to bully us into changing the 
name of the 2011 “Radical Media Conference” (see, we’re sending the letter below to the national press on Monday (2 May) morning for possible publication on the 3rd (World Press Freedom Day). To have your name added as a signatory please e-mail us at no later than midnight on Sunday (1 May). Please include any institutional info eg. 
Best wishes,