Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in a letter Wednesday accused U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) of stonewalling Sound of Freedom screenings the military command originally planned for August and October but canceled due to copyright issues.
Representatives from Sound of Freedom’s creator Angel Studios reassured SOUTHCOM that proceeding with the showings for the military and civilian community at U.S. Army Garrison-Miami would not violate copyright restrictions, according to Rubio. However, SOUTHCOM commanders continue to allegedly “block” the film because it is “already available,” the letter continued.
“Given SOUTHCOM’s robust leadership on combatting trafficking in persons, and the relevance of the ‘Sound of Freedom’ movie to SOUTHCOM’s mission, I was alarmed to learn of the decision to cancel the film’s screenings,” Rubio said in the letter, which was addressed to SOUTHCOM Commander Gen. Laura Richardson. (RELATED: Expert Testifies That Shelters For Migrant Families Aren’t Screening Children For Trafficking)
SOUTHCOM did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
In August, SOUTHCOM nixed two free showings of the film planned for Aug. 28 and Oct. 19 due to “copyright issues,” according to screenshots of emails obtained by the DCNF.
The thriller, which depicts a rescue operation of a semi-vigilante anti-human trafficking organization, was to be shown “in support of SOUTHCOM’s mission to promote respect for human rights and combating trafficking in persons in Central and South America and the Caribbean,” according to a flyer obtained by the DCNF.
“Both showings are postponed until further notice. Specific Department of Defense regulatory procedures for screening intellectual property are in place to prevent the appearance of copyright infringement,” a follow-up email obtained by the DCNF stated. “Further vetting” would be required before the Army garrison could proceed with the screenings.
However, Rubio said he had been informed the movie’s producers and studio communicated to SOUTHCOM that showing the film on the garrison would not violate copyright rules. It was unclear whether any outstanding Department of Defense (DOD) regulations stood in the way.
Angel Studios has also offered to send a representative to the garrison to answer questions from servicemembers and their families following the showings, Rubio understood, according to the letter.
“Despite this clarification it appears SOUTHCOM continues to block showing the movie because it is ‘already accessible.’ I hope you agree that what matters is whether the movie is worth showing to the troops and potentially meeting the filmmakers, not whether the troops can buy a movie ticket or stream the film on their own,” Rubio said in the letter.
“Sound of Freedom” is available for audiences to see all over the world!
— Sound of Freedom | Movie (@SOFMovie2023) September 12, 2023
The email sent to base personnel announcing the event had been put off “encouraged” the local military personnel and families to view the film at nearby theaters still offering showings.
“The movie’s central theme and its connection to SOUTHCOM’s AOR and our Human Rights Office (HRO) Combatting Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) program are inescapable and will serve to raise awareness of the prevalence of trafficking in human persons and sexual abuse and exploitation within our area of responsibility,” the email added.
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