RE: [Videolib] public performance in public libraries

Jed Horovitz (
Thu, 5 Jun 2003 14:43:15 -0400

Since I seem to have hit a raw nerve, I am going to give it another try.
Copyright is not a 'God given' law, it is merely a social contract. It
dates back just a few hundred years. It has necessarily evolved (for good
and ill) along with recorded media technology and the public corporation.

We have reached a point where large media corporations are privatizing
public culture through the expansionist abuse of copyright law. (See this
week's supreme court ruling for confirmation of this idea.) The original
intent of copyright was to give 'adequate incentive to creators' NOT to give
absolute property rights in every conceivable division or use of a work.
Accepting whatever a publisher or distributor says as the meaning of
copyright is letting the fox guard the hen house.

The limited nature of copyright was based on the well justified fear of
monopoly and the clear understanding that all intellectual creations are
part of a cultural stream that belongs to the entire human species. This
vision has been warped by continual incremental efforts. Many of you have
the misperception that intellectual creations are like physical property.
This gives copyright owners too much power. They have disintermediated
creators from the audience (the inevitable source of new creators) to the
point where they can pay them very little (the star system simply overpays
the few by underpaying the vast majority of creators) and charge monopoly
'rents' far in excess of their costs. (See Judge Posner.)

Because copyright is a social contract, it is can be changed by society.
All I am urging is that we make it a conscious evolution. We don't have to
accept copyright as it is, nor as publishers, distributors etc. say it is.
(See Justice Learned Hand.) Video Librarians should take the lead in this
and not act as enforcers of dubious claims.

Put simply, 'question authority'. If you don't, then reading aloud will
absolutely become a public performance per copyright law and that is a bad
thing. Not because it moves money from nearly empty pocket 'a' to already
full pocket 'b' but because it will kill what's left of the oral tradition.
What gives anyone the right to claim a story where animals talk as their
sole creation? (See Aesop, B.Potter, J.C.Harris) I am urging you to take a
stand now before it is too late.

Moving from the oral tradition back to video may seem like a big leap but it
really isn't. Not with the digital technology available now. Sampling is
already a big part of rap and hip-hop. Video sampling is available to
everyone with a PC. Who knows what kind of creative genius we will be
stiffling if it is treated as an infringement.

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Francis C
Sent: Thursday, June 05, 2003 8:50 AM
Subject: Re: [Videolib] public performance in public libraries

John...A film may involve a number of rights...all owned by different
entities...for example, the music, lyrics, special effects, choreography,
screenplay, etc. I have a friend who is an attorney in the feature
film/entertainment world and he is constantly dealing with the various
rights which may be owned separately but which make up the "whole"
performance of the work It usually comes down to money but what else is
new? I refer again to Title 17. Francis

On Wed, 4 Jun 2003, John Muller wrote:

> on 6/4/03 11:33 AM, Francis C Poole at fpoole@UDel.Edu wrote:
> > Sue or Joe Librarian reading the
> > Wizard of Oz to the public in a Library is not the same as giving a
> > screening of Victor Fleming's Wizard of Oz or the Wiz.
> Okay, by that logic, how about the public playing of Jim Dale's unabridged
> readings of the Harry Potter books? I realize that this may be a whole
> topic, but we are talking about the public exhibition/performance of
> copyrighted materials, no? Sue and Joe librarian can read a Potter book
> loud to a group, but if the IDENTICAL TEXT is played from a Dale
> it would clearly be a public performance violation, as I understand this
> discourse.
> It would seem that medium and conveyance are the operative limitations,
> whether it be film, datastream, video, text, or whathaveyou being
> displayed/performed/exhibited on a public level.
> > As I have too frequently had to remind my colleagues in the
> > print world, a book is not a film. The two are different creatures with
> > different and often multiple sets of rights which may be owned by
> > several entities.
> So what is actually being affected when an item is copyrighted? The
> intellectual property? The performance of said property? Personal usage?
> Public exhibition? The physical appearance? All of the above? None of the
> above? When money is exchanged, is a work "purchased" or is it a licence
> with clearly delineated usage stipulations?
> Like you say, a book is not a film, but both are copyrighted works. Sounds
> like some media forms just have more rights than others...
> --
> John F. Müller
> Sonoma State University Library
> Jean & Charles Schulz Information Center - Multimedia Department
> 1801 East Cotati Ave.
> Rohnert Park, CA 94928
> Phone: (707) 664-2590
> FAX: (707) 664-2090
> _______________________________________________
> Videolib mailing list

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