[Videolib] Public performance rights, copyright, etc.

James Scholtz (jimscholtz@sdln.net)
Wed, 04 Jun 2003 12:07:52 -0500

Gosh, how I love to listen to Jed, Jessica, and Gary "go at it" so to speak
about public performance and copyright issues. I'm not going to get into
the fray; I"m going to leave that to more knowledgable people. However,
Jed does bring up a couple of interesting points concerning "shinkwrap
licensing" and public performance of books. Everyone remembers University
of Illinois, LCA and Direct Cinema - basically they engaged in
"contractual" 5-year, long term lease purchases that allowed them to
control viewing to a further degree than an absolute purchase (controlled
by the Doctrine of First Sale). In these instances, a filmmaker could say
that you can only show/view these titles on Tues. and Thurs., etc. The
Doctrine of First Sale is what makes library lending (of books and AV
materials) and video rental, regardless of charge of lending institution
possible. Conceivably, the reading of books during a storytime
constitutes a "public performance" or even another derivative work (of
which only the copyright holder has permission to do/give away/sell) - that
of a dramatic performance. Book sellers seem to have gotten the idea that
libraries doing this sort of thing only "enhance" the widening of an
audience for books, encourage the selling of those books and thus don't
take libraries to court very often. Remember, the copyright law was
originally designed (way back when) to protect the written word,
specifically poetry in anthologies was being held up as being
"threatened." It is interesting to see a discussion come full-circle back
to its roots and also to see that, although new laws have been written,
copyright/public performance issues are still with us, mired in the same
non-absolutes as they were when all this started. We, as librarians, are no
better (or worse off) with the new laws than we were with the old
ones. Boy what a soapbox - I better get off now before I get dizzy and "fall."

Don't worry - I won't give you any more diatribe - I just entered the
doctoral program and my unconscious just wants to let loose one more time
before being reined in by the educational institution. Take care and "you
guys - let me know what you really think."

James C. Scholtz, Director
Yankton Community Library
515 Walnut St.
Yankton, SD 57078

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