[Videolib] Re: promotional copies

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Mon, 16 Aug 2004 16:22:02 -0700

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UGH! This really muddies waters, Michael.

I think I need to weigh in to cut some of the potentially
confusing....er...stuff in the correspondence below.

First of all: transferring a tape from one format to another (e.g. PAL to
NTSC) without permission is simply not OK...one semester, two semesters,
whatever. Has nothing to do a-tall with performance rights. Has to do
with OTHER exclusive rights of copyright holders--i.e. making derivative works.

Re the second point: title to physical property. The issue of showing
festival screeners and the like has nothing to do with title to physical
property (or copyright--as mentioned below). The First Sale doctrine says
once legally acquired, you can do anything you damn want with a copyrighted
work: resell it, rent it, stand on the street corner and give it
away... The issue of using works earmarked "For Preview Only" or some such
is really one having to do with license conditions and, to an even greater
extent, a kind of moral obligation to respect intended and explicitly
indicated use.


At 02:00 PM 8/16/2004 -0700, you wrote:

>I have been reading these exchanges with much interest (and am glad that
>they were not "moderated"). I am pasting in a response I got from Peter
>Maggs, a specialist in Russian copyright (that I got years ago before I
>knew much about copyright and had some questions for him). One of my
>questions was about what I then termed "festival prints" (but which were
>likely copies given to people for review before festivals). I don't know
>if it will add anything to the discussion, but I thought some might find
>it interesting.
>It appears that all your questions are questions of U.S. rather than Russian
>copyright law. I'll try to answer them.
> > create an NTSC copy and then allow this copy to circulate (as classrooms
> > around campus are not equipped with PAL machines).
>While one-time showing of a movie in a classroom is fair use, regular
>showing of the same film semester after semester is not, in my opinion. I
>realize this practice is common and that the copyright owners seldom
>complain. And if the University is comfortable violating the performance
>right it for U.S. videos, it is probably comfortable violating it for
>Russian Videos.
> > I know this is less a
> > question of Russian copyright law, than a question of how it fits into
> > American copyright law. Most people I have queried about this feel it is
> > not against copyright to do this, as long as the video in question is not
> > available for purchase on NTSC.
>I think it is clearly fair use if you buy a PAL movie (for which no NTSC
>version is available) and convert it to NTSC for your own use. This
>presents no economic threat to the copyright owner.
> > My second question is a more difficult one, I think.
> > Many Russian/Soviet films are available with subtitles only as "festival
> > prints:" prints that were never offered for sale, but which were
> > "distributed" to film festivals. Though these, hypothetically, are
> > to be returned, they very rarely are, and often find their way into the
> > personal collections of academics doing work in Russian/Soviet film. This
> > is the case with the previously mentioned professor's collection. My
> > question is: can one appeal to someone in Russia (the director, producer,
> > original "distributor" of these films) for permission to add such a film
> > a research collection in a library? (or for a copy of a film to be
> > to a library)
>This is a question of title to physical property - it has nothing to do with
>copyright. I would need to know a lot more about what happened in the film
>festival distribution process to know if the professor has acquired
>ownership of the films. It would all depend on the very detailed facts of
>how the films were distributed and on the law of the country where he came
>into possession of them. E.g., French law would apply to transfers of
>physical films at the Cannes Film Festival.
> > authorize this for a film? Can a director (or other cinema worker)
> > give a copy of a film to a library?
>This again is a question of title to physical property. We have to ask who
>owns the physical copy and then ask if the person who handed it over had
>authority or apparent authority to hand it over. I go to a reception at
>Cannes and am handed a plastic glass with win in it and a videotape.
>Obviously the waiter has authority to turn over title to the glass of
>champagne and probably also for the videotape. But it all depends on the
>circumstances. If I go to the film studio and the janitor gives me 100
>videotapes, I probably don't get title to them.
> > Can they authorize its inclusion in a
> > collection (in the given case, sort of retroactively making it a legally
> > donated copy)?
>Whoever owns the physical copy or an agent of the owner can certainly make a
>gift of the physical peropty.
> > available for sale/distribution. Do the expanded non-property rights of
> > (moral rights) of Russian authors allow for this type of thing?
>They don't have anything to do with physical property ownership.
> > festival print issue, I would like to be able to request copies of
> > commercially unavailable films from directors (or whoever might be the
> > responsible party) for our research collection, but need to know how to
> > out who, according to Russian law, is legally allowed to donate such a
>Anyone who owns a copy can donate it. It has nothing to do with directors,
>producers, scriptwriters, etc. Presumably the copy belongs to the
>production company or the distribution company. So it is a question of who
>has the chance to distribute it. The question is no different from that you
>would face if you wanted samples of Russian vodka for your college's
>beverage collection. You need to find who owns the bottles of vodka - the
>distillery, the producer, the liquor store, etc.
>BUT - if your question is who can give permission for regular classroom
>showing, showing to the Russian club, etc., then it is a question of who
>owns the copyright or is authorized to give such permission on behalf of the
>copyright owner. This is a much more complex question because Russian and
>Soviet copyright laws have changed over time. In the past, the right to
>authorize use belonged to the studio, but often it could only exercise this
>right through authorized Soviet trading agencies. More recently it has
>belonged to the key persons responsible for making the film, but they have
>generally signed this right over to the studio, which may have signed it
>over to someone else. The first place to look would be at the copyright
>office website - see http://www.loc.gov - to see if the copyright was
>registered and if so in whose name. But the copyright is effective if not
>registered. If it is not registered, the first place to inquire would be
>the studio.
>Michael Brewer
>German & Slavic Studies and Media Arts Librarian
>University of Arizona Library, A210
>1510 E. University
>P.O. Box 210055
>Tucson, AZ 85721-0055
>Fax 520.621.9733
>Voice 520.621.9919

Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley


"Movies are poems, a holy bible, the great mother of us."
--Ted Berrigan
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