Smithsonian & Showtime Agreement

The NY Times reports on an deal between the Smithsonian Institution and Showtime: Smithsonian Agreement Angers Filmmakers: “On March 9, Showtime and the Smithsonian announced the creation of Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture to develop television programming. Under the agreement, the joint venture has the right of first refusal to commercial documentaries that rely heavily on Smithsonian collections or staff. Those works would first have to be offered to Smithsonian on Demand, the cable channel that is expected to be the venture’s first programming service.”
The Patry Copyright Blog, with insightful comments from Fred von Lohmann and Joshua Wattles: Smithsonian Showtime Agreement: “The Smithsonian is not, as I understand it, attempting to exercise any copyright interests. It status on that score is a bit murky, although it is clear that suits against it have to be brought in the Claims Court not in federal district court. Instead, the issue centers on restrictions on access to the physical objects.”