DMLA New Member Q&A – WGBH

January 23, 2020

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Rick: Alison, congratulations to you as the new DMLA board member repping our new ACSIL members. How did you get into the licensing industry?

Alison: I started in television production in the 1980’s and was lucky enough to work on the landmark documentary series “Vietnam: A Television History” as my first job. That’s where I was first exposed to archival footage and stills. I went on to numerous other PBS programs as an Associate Producer and Film Researcher which ended up being an area I naturally gravitated towards. I managed a team of film researchers at WGBH working on historical documentaries, mainly for the American Experience series. I then accepted a job on the library side in the WGBH Media Library and Archives heading up the unit that licenses WGBH footage, leveraging my experience researching and licensing footage and stills. I enjoy the challenge of growing a licensing business.

Rick: WGBH is a flagship PBS station with some of the world’s best programming. Tell us about the library and some of its unique content?

Alison: WGBH’s library is over 60 years old with some of the earliest television on television. Early NOVA films, early educational television, that sort of thing. Our biggest assets are our remarkably varied interviews which are an amazing testimony to our range of programming at PBS. WGBH series – NOVA, Frontline and American Experience are renowned for their science, public affairs and historical coverage. And a good music collection, surprisingly! You can find one-of-a-kind interviews with Malcolm X, Alfred Hitchcock and Steve Jobs, or performances by James Brown. Plus many local and how-to programs.

Rick: Alison, you were point on ACSIL and DMLA negotiations. What were your motivations to bring the associations together?

Alison: When ACSIL was formed in 2003, we were the first association to represent footage libraries exclusively. ACSIL dealt with the licensing issues and amazing content unique to video and film and a long run of 17 years. Along with WGBH, our membership included CNN, ABCNewsVideo, WNET and many more. As licensors began to add all media types to their collections, there was a duplication of effort with the DMLA. It made sense at this critical juncture in the industry to bring the two organizations together and combine forces.

Rick: What do you see as the most important issues facing the industry today?

Alison: There has never been more production, and this is a golden era for documentary programming. So those of us in footage and stills licensing are definitely happy. Let’s hope it keeps going! But… it’s important to defend copyright and educate the next generation of creators and producers as to the value of licensing best practices and the craft and profession of research, rights and clearances of content.

Rick: The DMLA has three pillars – advocacy, education and community building. What are you hoping to see from the DMLA in 2020?

Alison: The DMLA has been very good in advocacy and education to date, particularly at your annual conferences. As a new board member representing the new ACSIL members, I will work with and engage moving-image licensors to build community at the DMLA with a focus on issues of importance to video and film now that ACSIL has joined the group!

Rick: Time to get back to work.

Alison: We look forward to an exciting 2020 as part of the DMLA!