RE: [Videolib] defunct companies

Jeffrey Clark (
Wed, 26 Mar 2003 12:23:34 -0500


The Copyright Office's fee-based search service is more thorough and costs
roughly $75/hr--but doesn't guarantee accuracy of results. It *does* serve
to certify a good faith effort, probably better (from a legal standpoint)
than doing the search on your own with the online database tools (LOCIS and
the experimental one at the Copyright Office website), and documenting the
results yourself. You can find reference to the search service here:

Whether the fee search is necessary, though, may be a judgment call--
conditioned by the case at hand (details about the item you're searching,
its importance or obscurity, etc).


--On Tuesday, March 25, 2003 5:50 PM -0800 Grace McKay
<> wrote:

> * 0 DocumentEmail
> Is the online search function at LOC considered to be a reliable
> indication of the actual copyright status of a title? Or is it necessary
> to have a search performed by LOC personnel? Just how much can we rely on
> the online results? What would be the absolute correct way to verify a
> title&#8217;s status and ownership?
> Grace McKay
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of Jessica Rosner
> Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2003 4:16 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: [Videolib] defunct companies
> Gary
> In past posts you have at least indicated that ANY media product from a
> copyrighted feature film to no longer in print to a obscure educational
> title would qualify to be copied if it were not currently in print. Also
> I don't see the problem in DOING the LOC search it is the RIGHT and LEGAL
> thing to do. In most cases you would probably find that much of this
> "obscure" material was NOT copyrighted or not renewed and in other cases
> you might actually find the rights holder whom you could contact. I
> don't see how you can basically say just because an item is not in print
> and you can't track the company that once distributed that that is a
> "reasonable" search. In reality we ALL know that no studio, or rights
> holder is going to "catch" you if you copy every damn title in the
> collection but if you believe in protecting the rights of film makers ,
> authors etc it is incumbent upon you to make a real effort to find a
> rights holder before copying a work and to NEVER copy a work where a
> rights holder REFUSES permission. Just because Professor A is distraught
> that he can't replace a copy of El Norte, Safety Last, ( briefly out on
> HBO) an old BBC series or a documentary released in 1966 about a Bolivian
> Basket weaving co-operative that you bought from a company that went out
> of business in 1972, you don't get to copy it WITHOUT trying to determine
> it's COPYRIGHT status.
> I know I come off like the big bad wolf on this but I am genuinely
> startled that people who make their life in media are so blithe to
> violate copyright. For myself and Kino , I take a very broad view and
> make sure to be as generous as possible on copyright issues. I think we
> are one of the few companies that gives poor Canadian libraries Free PPR
> on any title we can because of their highly restrictive laws. But the
> fact remains, you are looking for a justification for copying something
> that you may well have no right to do and are not willing to spend to
> time and money to find out
> Jessica
> (who is COUNTING the hours to OPENING DAY after which she won't give a
> damn about copyright until October
> --
> Jessica Rosner
> Kino International
> 333 W 39th St. 503
> NY NY 10018
> From: Gary Handman <>
> Reply-To:
> Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 15:52:49 -0800
> To:
> Subject: Re: [Videolib] defunct companies
> Look, Jessica...we ain't talking Metropolis here; we're talking
> non-theatrical product once distributed by a single commercial firm and
> no longer available in the marketplace. We're talking instances in
> which a library has acquired a legit copy from said defunct firm and in
> which the legit copy is either at physical risk or no longer playable on
> available technology. I will absolutely go to the mat (with Title 17 and
> the DMCA stuffed in my hip pocket) claiming and fighting for replacement
> copying and/or format transfer as legitimate under current law. I think
> it's incumbent upon us to make a documented, good faith effort to
> identify a current acquisition source, but failing to do this, I say
> copying is a responsible and institutionally supportable means of
> preserving our collections. And I say you're wrong about not standing up
> in court...I've nagged enough legal folk over the years to place my money
> on my position...
> God help us if we leave preservation of the cultural record to the
> sellers...
> At 04:58 PM 3/25/2003 -0500, you wrote:
> I am going to try this one last time
> Distributors ARE NOT COPYRIGHT HOLDERS. The ONLY way you can legitimately
> begin to determine a "rights holder" is to do a COPYRIGHT search from the
> Library of Congress. All the various sections of copyright law that people
> have referred to on this list regarding the issue of making copies ALL
> refer to a reasonable search and if you don't do an LOC search I can
> guarantee that it would NEVER stand up to legal challenge.
> There are literally hundreds if not THOUSANDS of defunct media companies
> and you can't just copy something they USED to sell because THEY went out
> of business. Titles go in and out of print all the time for a wide
> variety of reasons and you don't get to copy something because you can't
> find it currently available. Start with the LOC search and see where it
> takes you --
> Jessica Rosner
> Kino International
> 333 W 39th St. 503
> NY NY 10018
>> From: "Lisa Flanzraich" <LFlanzra@Qc1.Qc.Edu>
>> Organization: Queens College, CUNY
>> Reply-To:
>> Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 16:13:19 -0500
>> To:
>> Subject: [Videolib] defunct companies
>> If a film distributor is defunct like Films Inc. or CRM -- is it within
>> copyright
>> guidelines to make a copy of a tape ?
>> _______________________________________________
>> Videolib mailing list
> _______________________________________________
> Videolib mailing list
> Gary Handman
> Director
> Media Resources Center
> Moffitt Library
> UC Berkeley

Jeff Clark
Media Resources (MSC 1701)
James Madison University
540-568-6770 (voice)
540-568-3405 (fax)

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