The Writer’s Guild East has come out on behalf of documentary director Joe Berlinger, who last week was ordered by a Federal Judge to give Chevron more than 600 hours of footage he compiled for the documentary Crude: The Real Price of Oil. Berlinger and his attorneys have prevailed upon Judge Kaplan to stay the order until they can appeal the ruling. The issue has become a First Amendment flashpoint. Here is the WGAE statement:

“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.”