RE: [Videolib] public performance in public libraries

Linda Stevens (
Wed, 4 Jun 2003 10:34:35 -0500

I do read Randy Cohen, and I do agree that don't ask, don't tell is not a
good meeting room screening policy. None of our branches would allow a film
to be shown in the library (by anyone) without permission. However, I would
find it unethical and unprofessional for any public librarian to ask a
customer what they planned to do with any item they were borrowing from the

Linda Stevens
Media Specialist
Harris County Public Library
8080 El Rio
Houston, TX 77054

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of
Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2003 9:49 AM
Subject: Re: [Videolib] public performance in public libraries

I have to agree 100% with Jessica on this one. (Does anyone have any good
videos on the history of cork?). No matter what briefs are filed and what
people think, the copyright laws are very clear on the definition of public

A don't ask, don't tell, just ignore, policy might work with an unjust or
immoral law but copyright laws were created to reward artists and creators
for their work. Should librarians be volunteers (like most local firemen)
because a library is nonprofit and a worthy community cause? Should
libraries be allowed to photocopy books instead of buying them because they
cost too much? No, of course not. (And firemen should be paid, but that's
another debate...)

Screwing over MGM, Warner Brothers and Disney because they're big
conglomerates may be very 1960s (an era I'm quite fond of, actually) or
anti-Bill Gates, but in itself is a morally shaky stance. To screw over a
small distributor or filmmaker who probably needs to pay their bills is just
as shaky, but can't even be covered by this philosophy. (Being a small
distributor, I know how important those checks are to many of our directors
and producers.) And the concept that "no one will ever find out" is even
more reprehensible.

If a patron takes out a video and shows it in their dorm or a public venue
without the librarian's knowledge, I wouldn't sue or even blame the library.
But a librarian who knowingly allows this and condones it (not to mention on
their own premises), I would be very disappointed in them and find it
extremely unprofessional.

Tracy was right to ask. And again, I agree with Jessica. There have been
many times I've allowed public performances for free because it was a
charitable cause or the group was thoughtful enough to seek permission and
was so small that I didn't think it fair to charge them extra.

Doesn't ANYONE read the ethicist column in the New York Times Sunday

Dennis Doros
Milestone Film & Video
PO Box 128
Harrington Park, NJ 07640
Phone: (800) 603-1104 or (201) 767-3117
Fax: (201) 767-3035

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