Friday, December 14, 2012

I won one against Google

Being the ersatz filmmaker/journalist/visionary that I am, I occasionally quote or use content on my blogs that may be owned by others.

This is, of course, common practice on the internet and in other forms of media, and it often falls under the doctrine of "fair use", especially when used to promote something.

So, a couple years ago I posted a quick article about Gorman Bechard's 2009 film "Friends (With Benefits)" promoting the fact that it was viewable online at a free website.

And all was well with the world.

Until I got an email last month from Blogger, the Google-run free blogging service, that notified me a blog post of mine was in violation of copyright law.

Seriously? This is weird. Especially when I read the complaint:
Blogger has been notified, according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that certain content in your blog is alleged to infringe upon the copyrights of others. As a result, we have reset the post(s) to \"draft\" status. (If we did not do so, we would be subject to a claim of copyright infringement, regardless of its merits. The URL(s) of the allegedly infringing post(s) may be found at the end of this message.) This means your post - and any images, links or other content - is not gone. You may edit the post to remove the offending content and republish, at which point the post in question will be visible to your readers again.

A bit of background: the DMCA is a United States copyright law that provides guidelines for online service provider liability in case of copyright infringement. If you believe you have the rights to post the content at issue here, you can file a counter-claim. In order to file a counter-claim, please see

The notice that we received, with any personally identifying information removed, will be posted online by a service called Chilling Effects at We do this in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). You can search for the DMCA notice associated with the removal of your content by going to the Chilling Effects search page at, and entering in the URL of the blog post that was removed.

If it is brought to our attention that you have republished the post without removing the content/link in question, then we will delete your post and count it as a violation on your account. Repeated violations to our Terms of Service may result in further remedial action taken against your Blogger account including deleting your blog and/or terminating your account. DMCA notices concerning content on your blog may also result in action taken against any associated AdSense accounts. If you have legal questions about this notification, you should retain your own legal counsel.

The Blogger Team

Affected URLs:

I went back and looked at the blog post in question. There was an image of the movie poster, and a link to a streaming video website that was completely legit and was showing the film with the knowledge of the filmmaker. BTW, the link is now dead as no longer exists.

I wrote to Gorman and let him know about my problem with Google, and I asked him if it was OK that I had used the poster image and the link on my blog.

Here's his response:
That is very strange.  Could it be because its no longer on FanCast?  Perhaps remove the link and all will be ok. Otherwise, forward them this email as I am the sole copyright holder, and am giving you permission to blog about the film.

Gorman Bechard

So I replied to Blogger Support with this explanation and I filed a "counter notification":
I contacted the sole copyright owner of the film, Gorman Bechard, and he has responded to me via email that I have full permission to use the image in the blog posting, along with the link to the streaming video site that allows people to view his film. So there is no copyright violation in play. I can provide a copy of his emails to me if required.

DMCA counter-notification form

The DMCA is a United States copyright law that provides guidelines for online service provider safe harbor in case of copyright infringement. The administrator of an affected site or the provider of affected content may make a counter notification pursuant to sections 512(g)(2) and (3) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or other applicable law. When we receive a counter notification, we may reinstate the material in question.
And I filed the following information with their online form:
To file a counter notification with us, you must provide the information specified in the web form below. Please note that you can be liable for damages (including costs and attorneys' fees) if you misrepresent the material or if the activity is not infringing the copyrights of others. Accordingly, if you are not sure whether certain material infringes the copyrights of others, we suggest that you first contact an attorney. A sample counter notification may be found at

Please also be advised that, pursuant to sections 512(g)(2) and (3) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, by submitting a counter notification through our web form, your contact information will be forwarded to the original complainant.

Complainant's Information: Please provide us with information about yourself.

Name *
Enter your first and last names
Your Title
Company name
Address *
Country of residence
Contact email address *
(where confirmation email will be sent)
Phone number *

Material In Question: Identify the specific content that Google has removed or to which Google has disabled access.

URL of the content in question *
Add an additional field

Clarifications: Please provide additional details clarifying the reason for your reinstatement request.
And then I waited.

A few days later, I received this reply from Google Support:

Thanks for reaching out to us!

We have received your legal request. We receive many such complaints each
day; your message is in our queue, and we'll get to it as quickly as our
workload permits.

Due to the large volume of requests that we experience, please note that
we will only be able to provide you with a response if we determine your
request may be a valid and actionable legal complaint, and we may respond
with questions or requests for clarification. For more information on
Google's Terms of Service, please visit

We appreciate your patience as we investigate your request.

The Google Team
Fine. I fully expected it would be weeks or months before they got to it, and once they would, I figured they'd deny my counter notification as a matter of routine.

Plus, they didn't give me any information about the exact complaint or who may have filed it. Judging from the content of my blog, I could received literally hundreds of notices like this. But Blogger is totally mum about the complaint. It certainly didn't come from Gorman, and he's the sole copyright holder of the film and the poster image.

What worries me the most is the seemingly random nature of this complaint. For someone to focus on a two year-old blog post that contains so little that could possibly be considered a copyright violation is troubling at best.

To my mild surprise, here's their prompt reply:
We have received your DMCA counter notification dated {11/09/12} regarding
}. As described in 17 U.S.C. 512(g), we will forward the counter
notification to the complainant. If we do not receive notice from the
complainant that s/he has brought an action in the district court within
14 days, we will reinstate the material in question on Blogger. We
appreciate your patience in this process.

The Blogger Team
This looks a lot like progress. As something of a cynic, I was pleasantly surprised. They didn't address the actual nature or wording of the original complaint, but they promised to follow up with the original complainant.

So, two weeks later, they followed up with this missive:

In accordance with the DMCA, we have completed processing your counter notification and we have reinstated the content in question on 2010/10/watch-friends-with- benefits-online.html
This post has been restored in draft version. You will need to sign into your account and republish it. Please let us know if we can assist you further.

The Blogger Team

You mean I won?

That's all?

Yup. That's that.

Honestly, I found this sudden outcome curiously unsatisfying. I was expecting more of a fight. I was all revved up with lots of righteous indignation, and then they just upped and gave in? That kind of sucks.

Now what do I do? What am I supposed to do with all this pent up anger?

Write a blog post about it, I guess.

Which resulted in this unnecessarily wordy thing you're currently reading!

(Don't worry, it's almost over.)

They reinstated the blog post, but they lost the original date it was posted, which was some time during October of 2010. So it appears on my Blogger timeline on Nov. 27th of this year. Which makes it kind of anachronistic. Especially since the streaming website is gone.

But you can still view the film online for free, and I still endorse this quirky and sexy indie comedy, at

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Watch "Friends with Benefits" online

THIS IS THE BLOG POST THAT WAS TAKEN DOWN BY GOOGLE BECAUSE OF A COPYRIGHT VIOLATION CLAIM. After I appealed their action, Google decided that there is no reason for the post to have been removed, and they ruled that I can repost it. I'll do a detailed explanation some time soon. -------------------------------------------- Local Writer/Director Gorman Bechard has his latest film, "Friends with Benefits", online for free viewing.

I recently watched it and really enjoyed it. It's a smart, sexy, and very funny film that engages and entertains you. A great ensemble cast makes it a pleasure to watch.

Click below to go to the Fancast page where the film is available. Then, post a comment and share your thoughts here:

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The IMDB 250 Films in 2.5 minutes

Over 250 of the highest rated IMDB films set to an amazing mash-up soundtrack! This is made for serious film fans! See how seldom you can blink in 150 seconds!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's been a while

Since I last posted anything.

Trying to run three blogs, a Twitter feed, and a Facebook page; along with actually living my life...well, it ain't easy.

Anyway, here's something that is just such a great example of making a movie out of basically nothing. Well, it's got some touching father/son stuff, and some geeky technological stuff, and some quirky editing and such, so I guess it's a bit more than nothing. Check this out:

Friday, April 06, 2012

FITP is on for June 2012!

I took the classes in two years; I was in Sound in 2010 and Camera in 2011. Last summer I worked as the boom operator for a feature-length motion picture shot right here in Connecticut ("Isn't It Delicious").

Here's my daily photo journal of the 2010 Sound class!

The Connecticut Film Industry Training Program (FITP) will be held at Quinnipiac University in Hamden from June 4 to June 29, 2012. This is the fifth consecutive year that Quinnipiac has hosted the program.

Thanks to legislative appropriation and sponsorship by the Office of Workforce Competitiveness of the Connecticut Department of Labor, the FITP has recently been saved from what appeared to be an uncertain future.

The FITP currently has 421 graduate trainees and over 12,000 days of freelance work, paid and unpaid, internships, and deferrals. Last year, many FITP graduate trainees and over 25 interns worked on several features and television shows which shot in Connecticut. Many of our graduates have also found permanent jobs in the industry.

As in years past, only residents of Connecticut are eligible to apply. FITP courses offered this summer will be:
Assistant Directing
Location Management
Production Office Coordination
Script Supervision
Lighting and Grip
Props & Set Dressing
Due to a significant funding reduction, certain classes may be eliminated depending on enrollment. Applicants should bear this in mind and pay particular attention when choosing their alternate course selections.

For more information or to download an application to enter the 2012 FITP please visit and follow the prompts to “Summer Film Industry Training Program - Application.”

Applications are available ONLY on the above website and must be submitted by 5:00PM, May 31, 2012. Accepted applicants will be notified via email or telephone by June 1, 2012.

All applications for the Summer Film Industry Training Program must be submitted electronically, with $10 online application fee, by May 31, 2012.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Television Memories

Most of my childhood TV memories are contained in this video. My earliest recollections in this roughly chronological video start with Sandy Becker's "Hambone" appearance. I don't remember seeing Jackie Gleason until his variety show aired, although I'm sure I saw Honeymooners reruns by then.

True, they didn't mention F-Troop, Batman, or Get Smart, but they still showed a lot of great programs that I remember from my happy childhood. Bittersweet memories in a way, but only because those golden days of television are long gone.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Real life GoldenEye 64

The legendary James Bond first-person shooter has been updated with the latest video game technology. It's almost like being in the game!

"We should go to the main control room."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Michael Patrick Kelly Interview

Some weeks ago I sat down with Michael Patrick Kelly, Director and Producer of "Isn't It Delicious?", a film starring Kathleen Chalfant, Keir Dullea, and Alice Ripley.

Connecticut Bob: The film “Isn’t It Delicious?” is currently in post-production. Tell me what it’s about.

Michael Patrick Kelly: “Isn’t It Delicious?” is a film about a woman (“Joan Weldon”) who learns she is dying of cancer and so she sets out to reconcile her dysfunctional relationships with her three adult children, her husband, and her ex-best friend. Along the way, we discover that many years earlier Joan had an affair with her husband’s brother, and that her ex-best friend is her former sister-in-law. We witness Joan dealing with her illness, her relationships and along the way, many skeletons come out of the closet.

Her children are for the most part highly functional but chemically-challenged adults. One is a Wall Street banker who is addicted to cocaine and drinking, and is living with his stripper girlfriend. Joan’s daughter is a lesbian who’s an advertising executive and also has issues with partying too much and with her relationships, and the younger son is a medical school dropout who moves back into the house with his mother when he finds out she has cancer.

The film should be considered a dark comedy; it’s very humorous in Joan’s attempts to reconcile her relationships and ultimately set her children on the right path before she leaves this world.

CTB: Where did you first come across this script?

MPK: I was working with the filmmaker/writer, Kathleen Kiley, on a separate project and we discovered that we were both screenwriters, and she said she would send me her script and I gave her one of mine. She actually sent one half of her script, about fifty pages, and I read them and found them intriguing, and I wanted to find out where this Joan character ends up.

We both became very busy over the next couple of years and the project was sidelined. Then Kathleen told me she was getting frustrated over trying to get the script read by producers. At that point she gave me the entire script and told me “if you can do something with this, it’s yours.” So, I took it home and read it, then I called her up and said “I think you need to make a few changes,” which she was initially reluctant to do, but I told her if she made some minor changes, I would hand the script to Kathleen Chalfant personally. So she agreed, and I did just that.

Kathy Chalfant read the script and said she liked the character very much, and would absolutely love to play the role. At that point, Kathleen (Kiley) and I began rewriting to tailor the script to Kathy Chalfant and the other actors we had in mind.

(On location with Kathleen Chalfant)

CTB: So you’ve known Kathleen Chalfant for a long time. How did you meet and begin working together?

MPK: I first met Kathleen in January of 2003, when I was making a documentary film about the Lysistrata Project, and Kathleen was part of a star-studded reading of the play Lysistrata, to protest of the upcoming war with Iraq. Kathy was doing a reading with a cast that featured F. Murray Abraham, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgewick, Mercedes Ruehl and David Straithhairn. Kathy allowed me to film her and agreed to be interviewed for the film. Over the years, we saw each other at political and anti-war protests and at plays, and finally in 2009 the script was ready and I handed it to her. Once Kathleen read and liked the script, I felt confident enough to send it to Keir Dullea, whom I met along with his wife Mia Dillon also during the filming of Operation Lysistrata.

At this point, this project began to snowball quickly. I first envisioned that I would do this movie on an ultra-low budget with Kathleen Chalfant as my star, and every other role would be portrayed by relatively unknown actors. Than, all of a sudden I had Keir Dullea and Mia Dillon, so I sent the script to veteran actor Malachy McCourt at 8:30 one morning, and I got an email back from him by 11:30 that same morning, saying “I LOVE THIS!”, so now Malachy was onboard, and Malachy immediately suggested I call Jay Patterson.

Then, my wife (actress Suzanne Hayes) was to play Caroline (Joan’s daughter), and so we had a reading of the script here in New York, and Kathleen Chalfant’s agent was in the audience. Suzanne did an amazing job with the part; at the end there were people crying and applauding her performance. During the following Q&A session, we stated that Suzanne would indeed play the role of Caroline unless we were able to secure a bigger star, who would help us sell the picture and get the financing we needed.

The next morning, we got a call from the Kathleen’s agent, who said that he also represents Alice Ripley (the 2009 Tony Award winner for “Next To Normal”) and he said she would be perfect for the role of Caroline. And so, Suzanne graciously accepted the role of Caroline’s best friend Rosemary. We were all thrilled to have Alice come aboard and she was just wonderful to work with, she brought a whole new dimension and was magical in the role.

CTB: This would be a good time to talk about the budget of the film. With all these notable stars lined up, you probably had a budget in the millions.

MPK: Typically it would be, and when I first proposed the budget of $200,000, many people in the film-business told me it couldn’t be done. I was told that to make a film with this scope I would need a minimum of three million, and that it should have a budget of ten million. But all the actors agreed to work under the S.A.G. (Screen Actors Guild) Ultra-Low Budget contract, which allows indie-movie producers to employ SAG actors and pay them just $100 a day. I couldn’t believe that Keir Dullea, Malachy, Mia, Alice, and Kathy would work for such a rate, but it resonated how good the script was and that if these actors felt that strongly, then I felt I had to go forward.

So now I hand this wonderful cast, which grew to include Jay Patterson, and Robert LuPone, and it was at this point that our initial investor pulled out. We were devastated. I felt as if I had built this tremendous house of cards and it was all about to come tumbling down. Then as they say; when one door closes, another one opens. On the day after we received that dreadful news, an old acquaintance, Alfred Caiola, called me up, and Alfred was someone who had considered investing in a documentary idea on car racing. This phone call led to a meeting over espresso that very afternoon and I pitched the script and the actors who were attached and Alfred showed a great interest immediately. Alfred’s family had long been patrons of the arts and shortly after our first meeting, Alfred agreed to be executive producer. Beyond financing the film, Alfred has also been very helpful with creative input.

CTB: There was definitely a feeling of camaraderie and teamwork on the set, where everyone involved seemed to feel that we were working to create something special despite the budgetary constraints. What about the production values with such a low budget?

MPK: Ah, well, we made sure we had great actors and seasoned veterans of stage and screen added a sense of maturity immediately on the set. So I think everyone else was trying to work up to that level. The young crew felt a sense of privilege to be working with Keir, and Kathleen, Malachy and Alice.

In addition, my friend Director of Photography Axel Fischer, who worked on my previous documentary film over in Germany ("Behind The Wall" 2011), agreed to shoot the film. Axel is an amazingly talented cinematographer. Axel instilled a sense of security that made the cast and crew comfortable that the finished film would have the same production values as one shot for five million dollars.

(Michael with DP Axel Fischer)

Our budget allowed us to shoot with a Sony PMW F-3, which is the competitor to the Red camera, and to have that camera and this DP and this cast and a bunch of young eager filmmakers, everything just kinda clicked and flowed almost effortlessly even though we all had to adhere to a grueling shooting schedule, that even managed to weather a hurricane. It worked like a well-oiled machine and people were happy to go to work each day.

CTB: It was definitely that. Most of the time it went great, and those times it was a little bumpy, it seemed that everyone’s enthusiasm and team spirit helped us get through it.

MPK: That was apparent from the first day of the shoot, when we were shooting in the church and the camera went down for several hours after an already long day, and the actors and the crew and the extras hung in there until well after midnight, and when we started up again, the actors got up and danced and acted and performed as if it were noontime. We didn’t wrap until 4:30am; it was very special to be a part of that moment.

CTB: How did rehearsals go before the shoot?

MPK: Suzanne and I had gone over the script many times, rehearsing her for Caroline early on. And then, at the first script reading, Kathleen and Keir came through the door in character. Suzanne and all the other actors complemented each other very nicely.

We had called in Vanessa Morosco to read the part of Laura. I had seen Vanessa on stage a couple of years previously with Suzanne in a play called “The Rape of the Lock”, and when we were looking for someone to read Laura, Suzanne suggested Vanessa, I said sure, bring her in for the reading, I was thinking we just needed a warm body for that purpose, but Vanessa ended up winning the part at that first reading.

We did three readings of the script, and that was it pretty much for rehearsal. The rest of the communicating with actors took place via e-mail and during the casting calls. Our cinematographer Axel, originally intended to join us for three weeks of pre-production, but he was committed to another film that was shooting in locations such as Mumbai, Morocco, Hong Kong, Poland, Germany, and South Africa. Whenever I emailed him, I had to ask which continent was he on, and at first he was planning to have three weeks with us to prepare, then two weeks, and eventually he wasn’t able to come to New York until two days before production was scheduled to begin.

We really knew we were going to have to hit the ground running, and when he got here, we had to do a quick tech scout and went over what I already knew about the locations, having previously visited them. So a lot of blocking was done on the spot, and our actors rallied and were amazing to work with. We felt lucky that we had such an incredible top tier of actors: Kathleen, Keir, Alice, Mia, Malachy, Robert Lupone, and Jay Patterson. And we had a great cast of supporting actors, Nick Stevenson, Alexandra Mingione, Jonah Young and others who worked tirelessly with us.

CTB: The film was shot almost exclusively in Connecticut. What were the benefits of working here?

MPK: Of course we took advantage of the tax incentive that Connecticut offers movie productions. And I had known Tom Carruthers from the Connecticut Film Festival and he turned me onto the FITP (Film Industry Training Program) and the FITP ended up being a great resource for hiring quite a few crewmembers, including yourself and David Pisani, who right now is in the other room editing as we speak. David is an FITP graduate and he worked very hard during production and now is continuing to work as co-editor.

Jeanne Gibbs was recommended as our unit production manager, and she turned out to be a tremendous resource as she is a long-standing Trumbull resident (where much of the movie was shot), and along with another Trumbull resident, screenwriter Kathy Kiley, they were able to access areas of the community that normally would have been closed off to us. And we used those resources to our great advantage.

CTB: Along with the many great locations that were made available, the production had use of some amazing items, such as a $200,000 Ferrari, a 51-foot sailboat, and an S-Class Mercedes.

MPK: Well that’s just it. The sailboat and the Ferrari were worth more than the entire budget of the film, if you think of it like that.

CTB: But you had to give them back at the end. (laughter)

MPK: These were in-kind services provided by friends of the production. I told Kathy Kiley that she had to find us a sailboat because it was so important to the story. Kathy has a friend, Rich Vaughn, who works around boats. We went to see Rich, and he introduced us to Gary and Carol Hohimer. They own the sailboat we used, and they were just fantastic and they loved the script, especially after being there for the second reading. They were enthusiastic and generous with their time and the use of their boat.

Early on when we were securing locations, we tried to cast as many of the actual owners or workers of those locations as possible. For example, Kevin Lesko from the Lesko Polke funeral home and Roger Boroway, owner of the jewelry store. I could have cast non-union actors in those parts and they would have been fine, but going with someone who stands behind a counter selling jewelry and having him act at what he does all day made sense, so we tried it and it worked out really well. The policeman, Phil Hines, was terrific in his role. He was one of those poor souls that was stuck in the church that one night until 4:30 in the morning, and he hung in there and was really generous with his time, just like so many others on this film.

CTB: What’s the current state of the film?

MPK: We have a great rough-cut put together, and we’re preparing to start the color correction and then we’ll record the original score by veteran composer David Amram (“Splendor in the Grass”, “The Manchurian Candidate”). When David saw the first cut, he said: “This is the ultimate film about family's enduring bonds, in a society that has gone nuts. I’d love to do the score.”

After we record the score, we’ll do our final sound-mix and then start submitting it to festivals. Right now, I’m very involved in the editing. Every day I can’t wait to wake up and get down to the studio to work on the film, seven days a week. I feel like so many people helped me make this film that I have to make the best possible film that we can make. That is the only thing I’m focused on right now.

(In the editing suite with David Pisani)

CTB: I’m sure we’ll speak again as we get closer to the movie’s premiere, but in the meantime, good luck with everything, and thanks for taking the time to talk with me.

MPK: Sure thing, thanks Bob.

(If you enjoyed this interview and want to help support the film, please click here and "like" the "Isn't It Delicious?" page on Facebook)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Few Goodmen

This made me laugh. Who doesn't love John Goodman?

"Look upon me! I'll show you the life of the mind!
I'll show you the life of the mind! AAAAHH!"

(via The Best Roof Talk Ever blog)