RE: Academic Media Policy for PALS,SECAM,

Clark, Jeff (
Fri, 26 Feb 1999 13:55:03 -0800 (PST)

On Fri, 26 Feb 1999 10:30:39 -0800 (PST) Melisa Nicoud
<> wrote:

> Comrades,
> I a receiving more requests and outright purchases of European
> PALS and SECAM formats that our faculty want cataloged into our collection.
> We have not encouraged these formats for two reasons:
> 1) NTSC-VHS is preferential for classroom/student use, and
> 2) We have 2 machines on which these formats can be viewed,
> limiting access and usage
> These formats are predominantly requested by our foreign language faculty
> with the assumption that because they bought them in Europe or because they
> are
> in a less than preferable format that we can "just copy them" into NTSC-VHS
> format.
> (I KNOW the copyright answer to that one!)
> My question: How do you deal with these formats? Any
> discussion, policy statement or feedback will be greatly appreciated.
> Thank you,
> ~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.
> Melisa C. Nicoud
> Media Librarian
> The University of Montana
> Mansfield Library
> Instructional Media Services
> Social Science Bldg.
> Missoula, Montana 59812
> voice: (406)243-5329
> fax: (406)243-4067
> email:
> ****************************************
> If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. -Derek Bok, President,
> Harvard University


I'll bet you'll get some interesting responses on this one.
I've read Kris' already. Here at JMU, I have done PAL and
SECAM transfers in the past when: (a) the user had
permission, or (more often) (b) when a reasonable basic
search seemed to indicate the title had no American/NTSC
version distributor.

Lately, though, I've stopped doing (b). The last time was
for personal videos of Beatrix Potter programs that a
faculty member had picked up in England--and although they
had an American distributor as well, he actually managed to
wrest (via email) permission from the British distributor
to make the copies. So somebody in big companies actually
responds to such requests from time to time!

However, I wanted to point out a few other considerations
re: whether we should do this sort of transfer or not,
regardless of status of an NTSC release and retention or
destruction of the original foreign-standard tape.

1. One should reasonably assume that a country releasing a
tape in a particular recording standard expects its
clientele to be mainly within-country or within countries
holding the same standard. They might also expect some
"leakage" to other-standard other country users, especially
with the availability of technology to accommodate this.
2. There are also factors that may come into play as to why
the programming hasn't been distributed to other-standard
--The distributor/copyright holder simply sees no market
there, or hasn't managed to develop one yet. (This
situation would mean they're more likely to appreciate
anyone outside their country/standard who wants to buy, and
might not object to a standards-transfer. Just another sale
not otherwise available to the distributor/holder.)
--The distributor doesn't have the rights to distribute
outside their country (or standards-area).
--The distributor and/or holder doesn't want their
programming distributed elsewhere, whatever the puzzling

The last two options call into play the "moral rights"
aspect of copyright, which is important in Europe and
elsewhere, although not in the U.S. Our country stripped
any reference to moral rights from our copyright law
development, and made it purely a matter of economic motive
and marketing rights, in effect if not in exact phrasing.

There's a delicious irony in this, too, since during the
recent effort to get the copyright law extension passed,
Michael Eisner successfully bent the ear of Congress (and
Bill Clinton, no doubt) with an argument one of whose
salient features was a plea that poor Mickey Mouse would be
abused and traduced were he to fall into public domain.
This is essentially a moral rights argument (protecting
Mickey's image and the work that Disney put into it and
artistically controls)... when it's been Disney, among
other corporate interests, who have gotten copyright law
reshaped so as to banish the moral dimension from among the
copyright holders' rights.

I just couldn't let this one pass.... ;)


Jeff Clark
Media Resources (MSC 1701)
James Madison University
540-568-6770 (voice)
540-568-3405 (fax)