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Letter From The President

WGAE Opposes Subpoena To Obtain Documentary Film Footage

WGAE issued this statement to its members regarding the Chevron Corporation’s lawsuit to obtain 600 hours of raw footage from filmmaker Joe Berlinger.

May 17, 2010

The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE), issued this statement to its members regarding the Chevron Corporation's lawsuit to obtain 600 hours of  raw footage from filmmaker Joe Berlinger:

“In defense of free speech and the First Amendment, the Writers Guild of America, East joins with the Independent Documentary Association (IDA) in support of documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger and in objection to Federal Judge Lewis A. Kaplan's recent ruling that Berlinger must turn over to the Chevron Corporation 600 hours of footage shot during the production of his documentary ‘Crude: The Real Price of Oil.’

To accede to such a demand is tantamount to a reporter being told to turn over all of his or her notes and to violate confidentiality agreements with sources. As with the members of the IDA, our WGAE members working in the documentary field ‘hold ourselves to the highest of journalistic standards in the writing, producing, and editing of our films.’ Those standards include the protection of our outtakes, script drafts, research and sources.

Berlinger and his attorneys are asking Judge Kaplan to delay Chevron's subpoena pending their appeal. As events proceed, we will let you know how you can help. In the meantime, for more information on the case, read the article by Bill Moyers and Guild East President Michael Winship on Huffington Post.  For more material, go to www.documentary.org.”