Fwd: Re: Personal use videos on reserve

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Thu, 29 Oct 1998 13:20:26 -0700

Fowarding this on behalf of Jess Clark (who's having technical probs with
>I have been reading the back and forth discussion on this
>topic, and must say I have some sympathies on different
>sides. While I'm an educator and facilitator of other
>educators, I've got bones I'm willing to pick with my own
>camp as well.
>So let me add a few thoughts here, some of which may come
>at you from a new angle.
>1. As an educator, I am discouraged by the restrictiveness
>of current coprygiht law, both in detail and frequent
>interpretation of detail, as it allows for educational
>activities. And I'm absolutely appalled at the outrageous
>vicelike squeeze we're undergoing in education with new
>legislation right now: the extension of copyright duration,
>and the restriction of fair use access in the digital realm
>almost to the vanishing point. It is apparent that our
>legislators have forgotten--if they've ever known within
>the depths of their bottomline minds--that the intention
>behind the Constitutional provision for copyright
>protection is informed by the philosphy that "intellectual
>property" is not, repeat NOT, equivalent to "real
>property". That's why it's limited, both in duration
>and by fair use. It's value to society is more than to the
>material welfare of individuals, personal or corporate,
>alone. Thus like other educators, I'm inclined to struggle
>where I can against any fair use restrictions over which we
>still might exert some arguable control.
>2. But intellectual property creators in our field--media
>programmers and their distributors--are to a great extent
>our colleague educators. Or can be, when reasonably
>sympathetic to our educational needs and the value of what
>they produce to the life of our society through our own
>efforts. So I'm disinclined to be cavalier about creators
>and distributors as a group. We need each other too much,
>and should always be open to constructive dialogue.
>3. I agree with opinions expressed that
>creators/distributors who want to exercise more control
>over how their products are priced and used within an
>educaitonal setting, need to make it part of a formal
>purchase/lease contract. It *is* true, by a reasonable
>interpretation of the law, that a mere "home use" label
>doesn't restrict teaching use in the classroom
>automatically. The intervention during sale or lease (it
>could be a "sale" that's referred to as a licensing, as in
>much computer software) needs to be more active for that
>restriction to stick. It's like our responsibility to do
>more than post a notice at a photocopy machine about the
>law, if our library personnel are actually acting as
>intermediaries in the copying service: we have to check and
>filter the service provided, and educate users when their
>assumptions are incorrect in the latter situation.
>3. The matter of personal off-air copies--especially of
>material that was once broadcast or otherwise taped from a
>legit copy no longer in print or an illegit bootleg--is a
>matter I've always been inclined to be strict regarding, in
>spite of the opinions of my main colleagues among
>faculty. Or among some of you, for that matter. My
>position, and the justification I suggest it offers, are
>perhaps harsh medicine. But they need to be aired more
>often than I ever hear them from anyone else. So here goes.
> It's true that in an ideal world the availability of any
>and all programming in existence would enhance the teaching
>activities of faculty--sometimes enormously. It's true that
>more and more--because of cultural expectations of quick
>and complete access to anything under the sun--we tend to
>think almost anything we want in terms of programming ought
>to be available--sometimes in ignorance of market structure
>and its timing. (I received an innocent query from a
>faculty member myself, about a year ago, on whether we'd
>order the video of a new Chinese film he saw playing in the
>DC area just a couple days before....) So it's true that
>it'd be nice if we were kings of infinite space.
> But we aren't. And there are obligations, ethical and
>professional, that go with this limitation.
> To para-quote a colleague who is not on this list: No
>faculty member's course was ever wrecked by not having a
>particular film to use.
> Yes, some material is vital--some may even be mission
>critical--and not legally available. But if its absense
>literally *ruins* the goals and outcome of a course--that's
>because the course was designed improperly, in either
>innocent or willful ignorance of the ability and right to
>access the material it depends upon. To literally claim
>otherwise--that the material is necessary to any such
>course--is to simultaneously argue that any other faculty
>educator not using the same material in the same or
>comparable course must be doing an inadequate job. And
>that's one "truth" anyone would be hard-pressed to prove.
> In other words: Sense of proportion, people. "I want
>this" is not the same as "I need this", no matter how we
>try and work ourselves into a rationalized frenzy bent on
>that conclusion. It's only the omnipresent and habitual
>academic culture which fosters this attitude.
> And it's we, mostly support educators not directly and
>fully classroom teachers, who are far enough toward the
>edge of that culture, and into our own, who have an
>obligation to moderate this attitudinal urge and cast a
>healthily-proportioned light upon it. Doing so is not just
>because we want to be prissily copyright-legal, or decent
>to our producer/distributor colleagues. It involves a
>modeling of behavior that affects the academic and life
>experience of students going through our institutions.
>After all, those of us not completely sold on the
>replacement value of distance education tend to profess
>that the physical campus and its interactions have a
>communicty value--and values. HOW we do business with each
>other is part of what is being taught and learned, whether
>we want to conveniently ignore that or not.
> So though I feel much programming material may not be
>available for arbitrary and nonsensical reasons, that's the
>world we must live in when we can't justifiably stretch
>interpretation of fair use rights to cover what we want to
>get our hands on. To do otherwise is to act just as
>arbitrarily as the market which generates problems of
>access to "intellectual property" (because it considers it
>only in terms of "real property", and the devil of any
>social responsibility be damned).
> We need to consider carefully what we do in our
>educational support role. The goal is the student and the
>learning process--which is not always synonymous with what
>teaching faculty want, nor what we may wish to accomodate
>them and feel most directly useful and wanted in our part
>of the educational enterprise. We ought to work to instill
>more of our own "culture" into the center of academe. And
>thereby increase the confidence and cooperation of the best
>of our colleagues out in the market.
>--No sentimental note meant here at the end... but enough
>of my own soapbox and feather-ruffling for now. I'll leave
>it at that.
>Jeff Clark
>Media Resources (MSC 1701)
>James Madison University
>540-568-6770 (voice)
>540-568-3405 (fax)