Re: What constitutes a reasonable search

Christopher Lewis (clewis@american.edu)
Thu, 24 Oct 2002 10:27:09 -0700 (PDT)

For distributors like Films Inc, I have done OCLC searches to see if a
given title has been rereleased by someone else like Insight Media. I have
also pursued directors and producers (usually to no avail) and have done
lots of web and print directory searches. After these basic steps, I
usually decide to have a copy of the tape made and a note added to the
record that says "VHS preservation copy made from archived U-matic (3/4")
original" or something to that effect.

In the early 1980s there was a Films Inc series titled Crisis to Crisis
with Barbara Jordan. A few titles in the series said the copyright was held
by American University so over the years I've gotten calls from various
organizations about getting a copy of one or another of those titles. We
have the series but we turned the place upside down looking for someone who
knew about the copyright. The AU connection turned out to be a retired
professor who had written some of the scripts but the copyrights appeared
to be held by PBS. When PBS made us a replacement copy a few years ago,
Barbara Jordan was no longer on the tape nor was the information crediting
American University. Weird.

The experience confirmed my inclination that many older titles become
impossibly snarled copyright balls and that after a good faith but failed
effort to find the legitimate rights holder, it's okay to take the plunge
even if you missed a step (like appealing to videolib for help). If the
rights holder or his/her lawyer discovers what I have done and contests it,
I feel confident I will be asked to cease and desist before things get out
of hand and at that point I'll thank the person for contacting me and ask
for their permission or I will withdraw the item. Frankly I don't think
this scenario will ever come to pass unless we would be stupid enough to
copy Disney (or Kino ; ) ) titles without permission.

Christopher Lewis
American University Library
Media Librarian
202.885.3257