In 2017 and 2018 the Tax Justice Network collaborated with Michael Werner Oswald, of Queuepolitely Films Limited (QFL), on a documentary film with the working title The End of Democracy. The project was abandoned in September 2018 after it became apparent that we no longer shared the same vision for the film. The abandonment of this project, and the subsequent failure to agree how to deal with the material produced to date, was particularly unfortunate after the success of our previous collaboration on the film ‘The Spider’s Web’, directed by Michael Oswald and based on Nicholas Shaxson’s best-selling Treasure Islands. Co-produced by TJN’s John Christensen and featuring many tax justice experts, The Spider’s Web recently surpassed two million views on YouTube.
Our dispute with QFL is centred on the copyright ownership and physical possession of material filmed in the course of fifteen interviews – listed below – as well as interviews filmed at the TJN/SPERI workshop held at the University of Sheffield in November 2017. QFL has the only copies of this interview material and has refused to share them with TJN.
Acting on advice received, we are publishing this note to assert our joint ownership of the copyright to these filmed interviews, and our right to hold copies of it and to use it for the purpose of making the film we originally planned. The basis for this assertion is that John Christensen, in his capacity as both a Director of the Tax Justice Network and the co- director and co-producer of the proposed The End of Democracy film, conducted all the research for these interviews, organised and arranged all fifteen interviews, paid travel costs, and conducted the interviews.
TJN has made several attempts to negotiate a settlement with QFL, including two offers of payment, one made in 2018 and one made in July 2019 at the end of a day-long mediation session. Notwithstanding our attempts to arrive at a mediated settlement, QFL has declined all requests to supply the filmed footage and the associated transcriptions.
We are concerned that QFL may use this filmed interview material in ways that undermine our reputation or that of the interviewees. We have therefore regretfully made the decision that we cannot allow QFL to use, edit or profit from these filmed interviews, cause it to be publicly exhibited, or transfer the rights to the filmed material to any third party, without our expressed written permission.