RE: VERY interesting copyright article

Henry Mattoon (
Fri, 2 Feb 2001 10:51:01 -0800 (PST)

Reply to: RE: VERY interesting copyright article
Ok, here's one quick comparison. Rather that use the SCARY MOVIE analogy, which doesn't work, try the original PSYCHO vs the virtual scene-by-scene, shot-by-shot remake by the (formerly talented, hey I used to make good movies) director, Gus Van Sant.

Or even better, consider those old colorized versions of B&W films. "Intellectual" content is still sort of intact, film or rather, video is the exact same running time, always has the same cast, etc. All that's changed is its been colorized. But that's either with public domain films or (c) works with a legal contract with the copyright holders. That is, of course, until the integrity of the original, artistic or otherwise was clearly being tampered with without the express consent of stakes holders.


Henry K. Mattoon
National Moving Image Database
The American Film Institute
2021 N. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
323/856.7702 voice
323/856.7616 fax

Darryl Wiggers wrote:
>Here are the six main points of the copyright law as stated by the >Copyright Office at the U.S. Library of Congress:
>... Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner >of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do >the following:
>1) To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
>2) To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
>3) To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by >sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
>4) To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, >dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures >and other audiovisual works;
>5) To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, >musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and >pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual >images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and
>6) In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by >means of a digital audio transmission.
>Now, does anyone remember the case of George Harrison and the >copyright violation he was charged with for his song My Sweet Lord? >His copyright violation had nothing to do with points 1, 3-6. It had >to do with point #2: "To prepare derivative works based upon the >work" because the song was determined to have been derived from the >song He's So Fine by The Chiffons. He took the basic melody >(unconsciously, but that didn't matter), create a whole new song, >copyrighted it in his own name, made money from the song, and didn't >give any money to the original creators of the melody.
>Ever look at a film and say "Oh, Man! That was SOooo derivative!" I >never heard anyone say that when they saw Robocop on tv and the blood >spurts and cuss words were cut out. They usually said something >unprintable, but it had nothing to do with a copyright violation. >It's not like Mr. Cleanvideo is distributing these videos as "A Film >by Ray Lines" and failing to return money of the sale to the original >owners.
>Semantics is EXTREMELY important. Especially when it comes to written >laws. That's why they are usually clearly defined. Words cannot mean what
>you want them to mean. Or how you think they mean. The Copyright >Office defines it as follows: "A "derivative work" is a work based >upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical >arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, >sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any >other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A >work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or >other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of >authorship, is a "derivative work".
>Curiously, filmmakers do homages -- or derivatives -- of other films >all the time and never seem to be nailed for it. Scary Movie is >probably the most extreme (derivative) example I've seen -- whole >scenes are virtually identical to all kinds of previously created >works, particularly Wes Craven's Scream -- but no one seems to >complain.
>Now, having said all that, I located a section of the copyright that >suggests a violation in the case of Mr. Cleanvideo. The first section >appears below the six points in the copyright introduction:
>"In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights >of attribution and integrity as described in section 106A of the 1976 >Copyright Act. For further information, request Circular 40, >"Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts.""
>So when you look at section 106A >( ) you'll find >this (edited) segment:
>(a) Rights of Attribution and Integrity.- Subject to section 107 and >independent of the exclusive rights provided in section 106, the >author of a work of visual art-
>(1) shall have the right-
>(A) to claim authorship of that work, and
>(B) to prevent the use of his or her name as the author of any work >of visual art which he or she did not create;
>(2) shall have the right to prevent the use of his or her name as the >author of the work of visual art in the event of a distortion, >mutilation, or other modification of the work which would be >prejudicial to his or her honor or reputation; and
>(3) subject to the limitations set forth in section 113(d), shall >have the right-
>(A) to prevent any intentional distortion, mutilation, or other >modification of that work which would be prejudicial to his or her >honor or reputation, and any intentional distortion, mutilation, or >modification of that work is a violation of that right, and
>(B) to prevent any destruction of a work of recognized stature, and >any intentional or grossly negligent destruction of that work is a >violation of that right.
>Sound convincing? The catch is, when you look for "further >information" in Circular 40 (it downloads as a pdf file) it >identifies what "visual art(s)" are covered by this -- and it does >not mention motion pictures, videos or anything of the sort. Here's >what it says:
>Copyright protects original "pictorial, graphic, and sculp-tural >works," which include two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of >fine, graphic, and applied art. The following is a list of examples >of such works:
>Advertisements, commercial prints, labels
>Artificial flowers and plants
>Artwork applied to clothing or to other useful articles
>Bumper stickers, decals, stickers
>Cartographic works, such as maps, globes, relief models
>Cartoons, comic strips
>Dolls, toys
>Drawings, paintings, murals
>Enamel works
>Fabric, floor, and wallcovering designs
>Games, puzzles
>Greeting cards, postcards, stationery
>Holograms, computer and laser artwork
>Jewelry designs
>Needlework and craft kits
>Original prints, such as engravings, etchings, serigraphs, silk >screen prints, woodblock prints
>Patterns for sewing, knitting, crochet, needlework
>Photographs, photomontages
>Record jacket artwork or photography
>Relief and intaglio prints
>Reproductions, such as lithographs, collotypes
>Sculpture, such as carvings, ceramics, figurines, maquettes, molds, >relief sculptures
>Stained glass designs
>Stencils, cut-outs
>Technical drawings, architectural drawings or plans, blue-prints, >diagrams, mechanical drawings
>Weaving designs, lace designs, tapestries
>Of course the law usually favours the one with the most money -- >regardless -- and unless Mr. CleanVideo can raise support from the >Christian community (and he probably will) he doesn't stand a chance >against the big guns of Hollywood.
>My guess is Hollywood won't bother. They have little to gain except >to alienate the Christian community. I think it's more likely that >Hollywood will start making "clean" versions of their films available >on the video market -- if they determine its financially viable (i.e. >market research says there are enough Christians in the country who >would buy these versions). Universal already ensures their library is >stocked with TV-friendly versions (plus they also re-arrange the >whole story structure at times -- such as John Carpenter's The Thing) >so it shouldn't be difficult.
>Remember, you heard it here first.
>As for the suggestion of inserting PD footage into Disney films, well,
>Jessica I think you know as well as I do that you might as well put a bullet
>in your brain if you try to pull a stunt like that. The Mickey Mouse legal
>department with rip you apart and lick your bones clean. In which case, Mr.
>CleanVideo could definitely find himself in trouble if he messes with a
>Touchstone flick. Whether he was legally in his rights to do so or not would
>be beside the point.
>Finally, here's something else to consider... what about cinemas that mess
>with the projection? Private theatres have been known to splice out footage
>they didn't approve of. Others have been known to mess with the sound levels
>(as Mr. CleanVideo has). Still others (especially in my neighbourhood) have
>forsaken projectionists altogether which has led to lots of burnt-out bulbs,
>flickering bulbs, film stoppages, film interruptions and especially
>mis-framings. Prints usually come with specific instructions as to what
>ratio they should be projected (i.e 1.85:1, 1.66:1) and I've seen many
>mistakes done with this. Are these "derivative" versions? Don't these
>violate copyrights?
>What about the unintentional defence? I don't think so. It didn't work for
>George Harrison. But even if you could, one can easily cause havoc by suing
>a theatre every time they mess up, and forcing them to prove whether or not
>it was intentional.
>We can dig deeper into this but I'm not being paid for legal research >so I'll probably stop here. But I think it's obvious that this matter >is not cut-and-dry and will require a court to sort this mess out.
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