[Videolib] Direct Cinema -- Home Video

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Tue, 07 Sep 2004 12:20:44 -0700

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Well, Miles...you've brought up an issue that, like the proverbial bad
penny, seems to rise to the surface on this list every half-year or so...

The only thing unethical about tiered pricing is the continuing practice of
[some] distributors to try to foist the always-mandatroy higher price off
as having to do with public performance rights. The argument seems to be
that institutions a priori require performance rights--ergo: the need for
paying the higher price. This is, of course, a whole lotta hooey. Many of
us in academic institutions NEVER require performance rights (our butts are
covered by the face-to-face teaching exemption). Nonetheless, when you try
to call said distributors on this fact, they usually cough and sputter and
ultimately require the extra pound of flesh regardless.

After all these years, I don't really have too much objection to tiered
pricing. The real issue is the economics of the marketplace (and public
performance rights be damned): most indie distributors feel they need to
charge the higher price to institutions to stay afloat...it's actually sort
of hard to argue this point, I think. My stance has always been that, in
some sense, we're subsidizing unique content: if the small guys with cool
stuff go away, god help us all.

I will say that if I come across a home video version of a work selling in
two-tiers in a place such as amazon or facets or B&T, you damn well better
believe I'll buy it.

At 01:07 PM 9/7/2004 -0500, you wrote:

>Hello all,
>Recently I submitted an order for some titles from Direct Cinema that they
>offer as home videos. I received back a letter that says
>We are retuning the following purchase orders for incorrect pricing. On
>them, you have listed home video prices that do not have Public
>Performance Licensing for use in educational institutions. U.S. Copyright
>laws require that public libraries provide this licensing as your
>materials are available for use by schools, universities and other
>To me this second sentence is just plain wrong.
>I called them and had a few words with the person that answered. Later I
>said that I will personally purchase these (home video only) and then
>donatethem. She told me that would be unethical.
>I say tiered pricing is unethical, for universities, PL, or otherwise.
>End of rant.
>Myles Jaeschke
>Tulsa City County Library
>Film Librarian

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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