Marineland Animal Defense leader Dylan Powell has been issued a Cease and Desist by the lawyers for KinoSmith, the Canadian distributor of the film Blackfish. The C&D stems from M.A.D.'s promotion of an unauthorized screening of the film in Niagara Falls during October.
Powell's potential use of the film without obtaining the rights was uncovered in a recent article in the Niagara Falls Review and just a day after M.A.D. was caught using another activist's YouTube video without permission. KinoSmith had not given Powell permission to screen the film on the date that was requested in October. Powell responded to the article by posting confidential emails between himself and KinoSmith which clearly showed Powell was attempting to get the rights to show the film however no permission was granted. Powell went on to quote copyright law regarding "fair dealing" even though KinoSmith's stipulations on when the film could be shown were ignored.
In the Cease & Desist sent by email and obtained by Marineland: In Depth, Powell 's interpretation of copyright law is called "foolish" and KinoSmith demands M.A.D. immediately stop promoting the unsanctioned event. It is pointed out in the email that if Powell were to go ahead with the unauthorized screening, as the DVD of the movie is not released until November any copy that he would screen in October would be "illegal". Powell is further scolded for "hurting the cause" he supposedly believes in by potentially screening the film in an unauthorized manner therefore preventing film makers from recouping their production costs.
A sanctioned screening right for the film is still offered to Powell by Kino Smith in the Cease & Desist but only under the original conditions proposed by the distributor. Finally Powell is chided for his interpretation that he was "defamed" by the Review and if he felt that any damage was done to his reputation and credibility he only has himself to blame.
Powell responded to the C&D via email, also obtained by Marineland: In Depth:
Received and read. Are you representing KinoSmith on the Copyright claim as well as the defamation claim stemming from yesterday's article? If so, let me know as I am taking this as a refusal to retract.
Your letter and the newstory yesterday, excludes the fact that we have never refused to pay for the rights to this film, and that, in a court that is what your client would be subject to collect. Both KinoSmith, and your assertion that we are damaging the filmmaker/distributors right to "make a living" is entirely disingenuous. Our position has been the same throughout, have KinoSmith let us know what payment option they prefer.
Your client does not have privilege to use the copyright license as a monopoly. Although the tone of the letter may endear you to local QMI press I'd appreciate it if moving forward you could restrict your language to the issues at hand and not degrade to insults. Thank you.
Powell again ignores the fact the distributor's stipulation has nothing to do with the fee or payment for the film but rather just the date. He responds to the attorney, (who specializes in media and copyright law) by lecturing him regarding the use of the film's license. At the time of this posting, Powell's promotion of the film lingers via posts on social media and promotional materials. On one website featuring a schedule of events, Blackfish was removed and substituted with "screening of anti captivity documentary".
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With another legal battle possibly looming over this completely preventable situation M.A.D. also continues to ask the public for donations towards their closing day protest activities. It is not clear how these funds will help animals at Marineland.