RE: [Videolib] Digital Streaming Companiesandlicenseoptions

Jonathan Miller (
Mon, 13 Feb 2006 15:09:06 -0500

Dear Claire

Sorry, I am getting a bit confused (and not just from your email below, but
the entire thread).

Let's try it this way: When I introduce the FRIF Online Documentary Database
on 1/1/07, and offer you all the chance to subscribe for $1000 per year per
campus, and in return you can access streams of all the films we have rights
to and distribute: Would that be a good deal? (we distribute about 900

If so, then, aren't we only talking about a) price (most of all) and b)
available infrastructure and c) bureaucracy (in the good sense)?

As I understand your position: we should provide this service (access to
these works) for free.

Or maybe your position is: if we put them on a server then yes you might pay
something, but if we let you put them on a server, then no you shouldn't
have to?

I travel all over the world (someone has to) to find films to bring to this
country, many of which won't be distributed here if I (or someone else)
doesn't do that. Who pays for that? You do: and I think you pay for it (via
the prices you pay for our films) because you think it's worth it.

The filmmakers give us those rights to bring their films to you because we
pay them something for that right. (and, n.b. we NEVER have gotten those
rights "in perpetuity", there is ALWAYS a term on them).

Do you want that entire system to collapse? Fine: you will have access in
future to a) pirated films via bit torrent etc or b) films available on
servers in other countries or, c) films people put out there without
expecting any compensation, or d) what?

It's one thing if you are talking about "orphaned" works: no one owns or
claims them. I don't care what you do with them.

But FRIF is an ongoing business and part of my job is to look out for the
rights and interests of the filmmakers, our staff, and myself, and to ensure
that they (and we) receive some compensation for the use of their work (and
the work that we do).

How do you propose to maintain that in the ground is as slippery and soft
and malleable as you suggest, apparently out of a desire to get more value
out of the media while lowering your costs (or eliminating even) at our
(collectively, the field's) expense?

Or have I missed something? Probably I have. Please tell me what it is.


Jonathan Miller

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of M. Claire
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2006 1:26 PM
Subject: RE: [Videolib] Digital Streaming Companiesandlicenseoptions

In addition to the great questions that you list below, I hope our
review committees also ask: why are we considering purchasing these
licenses? Is it really necessary? How are the materials being used,
and does fair use or TEACH apply? There are four fair use factors; I
think often the amount used is what makes video librarians think fair
use doesn't apply, but that is only one factor among four. So far,
our colleagues in music and visual resources have argued this more
successfully than we have; they've been making the whole works case
since CONFU and have recommended copyright policies to back it up.

I realize that this comment may provoke the usual response from some
on this list. I strongly disagree with the perspective that
digitizing and streaming titles which the institution legally owns
without purchasing an additional "digital license" is necessarily

I would like to hear from others who are typically silent when these
debates arise on VIDEOLIB. I'm curious where the people not
represented on Monique's list stand. I know not everyone has the
technological resources to support a local streaming service; waiting
for the video equivalent of a Naxos/Classical Music online service
and paying a subscription fee makes sense in those cases (or maybe in
all cases: Northwestern has both a robust local music streaming
service and subscriptions to music streaming databases). But if it's
not a question of technical resources, and faculty are requesting
streaming, has the institution chosen not to make a legal decision,
leaving the question hanging? What strikes me most are the cases
where licenses are being purchased but no services provided. We may
have taken to electronic journals like ducks to water, but there were
significant new services being offered with ejournals: centrally
delivered electronic content, vastly improved access through search
services, etc. What exactly are we paying for now?

If folks want to email me offlist please do:


At 3:23 PM -0600 2/11/06, Bergman, Barbara J wrote:
>I'm okay with paying a reasonable higher price for digital access, but
>cost aside, digital rights that have to be renewed create a purchasing
>problem because I am no longer making a one-time purchase.
>Anything with an ongoing cost is considered a serial, with ongoing staff
>time as well as ongoing financial commitments. It will be treated the
>same as if we were purchasing access to a journal database.
>So, in order to purchase digital rights with a time limit, I lose a lot
>of my autonomy in making purchasing decisions. I am going to have to go
>make my case to our Serials Review Committee - who are going to ask all
>the same questions that we're asking (while also getting over the
>sticker shock of how much many educational videos cost in the first
>place). Other questions they will ask - Whose budget is going to pay
>for the renewal? Who will keep track of the length of the license? Who
>will decide whether to continue access? Who is responsible for making
>sure the renewal gets paid? What if we decide that our budget can't
>absorb the renewal costs?
>Will I be looking at acquiring digital access? Yes.
>Are we jumping in? Not yet.
>Will perpetual access be a selling point? Definitely.
>Barb Bergman
>Media Services Librarian
>Minnesota State University-Mankato
>(507) 389-5945
>Videolib mailing list

M. Claire Stewart
Head, Digital Media Services, Marjorie I. Mitchell Multimedia Center
Coordinator of Digitization Projects, Northwestern University Library
(847) 467-1437
Videolib mailing list

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