[Videolib] Re: promotional copies

Melissa Riley (mriley@sfpl.org)
Wed, 11 Aug 2004 14:50:14 -0700

I asked my friend Eli Edwards who's a paraprofessional in Gov Docs at Stanford, a newly-minted MLIS from SJSU, and a burgeoning copyright maven.
She suggested getting a more authoritative opinion, but ventured this:
If you want an authorative opinion, I can post this to the Coalition for Networked Information's copyright list. My unauthorative take?

1) The MPAA has been cracking down on Oscar screeners who've been lax about keeping track of their reviewing material: See this story on the agreement between MPAA and NARAS (the motion picture academy) regarding screening copies: http://www.oscars.org/press/pressreleases/2003/03.10.23.html <http://www.oscars.org/press/pressreleases/2003/03.10.23.html>
And an Academy member was expelled (and is being sued) for giving his review copies to someone who then pirated the content: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmine_Caridi <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmine_Caridi>
Televised content isn't covered by MPAA and giving copies to the local library to lend to patrons certainly isn't the same as uploading unreleased movies to the Internet. Would that keep the copyright holder(s) from suing the library if it/they found out about it? In this climate, probably not. And there might be a case for willful infringement here (see #3).

2) Do libraries accept promotional copies of audio CDs? Similar circumstances of distribution, same type of labelling ... Of course, record stores with used bins sell tons of review CDs, but the RIAA hasn't started cracking the copyright control whip over that yet.

3) Licensing trumps copyright: if the original receiver agreed not to sell, release, donate or otherwise distribute the material as part of his membership with the television academy, that would probably pre-empt first sale or fair use rights. If the library accepted the donation knowing that the material was not supposed to be distributed, it may be hard to argue against willful infringement, even as a third party.

4) Have the DVDs been viewed on library and/or other equipment? Are you sure there's not DRM-type encryption? If there is, do you feel reasonably confident that breaking the encryption won't violate Section 215 of the DMCA?

Mind you, I'm not saying that the library should (or should not) accept and use these materials, but these are the questions that would go through my mind if I were facing this situation.
Eli Edwards
Melissa Riley MRiley@sfpl.org