Lawrence Lessig posted a link to this story yesterday about the travails a producer had to go through to make a documentary. They were making a film about a school dance competition. These were apparently elementary school kids doing ballroom dance, and an attempt to make a documentary about them.
The story talks about all of the legal hoops that had to be jumped through to be able to show the film, and all of the rights that had to be cleared. The cost for doing so, they said, was almost half of the cost of the film, or, to put it another way, their costs doubled because of the need to buy permission to record real life. They also mentioned being asked to pay at or over $10,000 to include just part of a song in the film, having to be careful to "watch out for billboards and Frito-Lay trucks all the time", and needing to clear the rights for a six second piece of the Rocky theme song played as a cell phone ring tone.
This is our "permission culture". It's a sign that something has gone wrong.