In a message dated 1/9/02 8:16:16 AM, [log in to unmask] writes:
<< It's my understanding that "grey-market," when used properly, of course,
refers to a bootleg of a film that is public domain under
the Harrison Act. Video Search of Miami would be an example of a true
grey-market company, since they immediately delete anything
that is made illegal by an official release. >>
Jessica, can I take this one? NO, NO, NO this is totally a falsehood. Gray
market is when you buy something overseas and sell that exact same product in
the US. Multi-system VCRs and televisions are such items. As far as a
distributor selling tapes overseas, this comes more under what contractual
agreements and hindrances there are between the producer and distributor than
the definition of black or gray market. I am not allowed to sell Why Has
Bodhi-Dharma outside of North America and I have to ask our producer each
time for permission if there's a sales request. So, I do abide by the
territorial restrictions of my contract.
But as far as I know, though the courts have not acted on the sale of tapes
from overseas, the Harry Potter precedent probably does allow it, and
therefore it's my understanding that I can't stop Amazon or Facets or anyone
else by selling my tapes overseas. A dirty little secret: all us distributors
depend on that money as do the producers who earn royalties from those sales.
And I buy legal tapes and DVDs from overseas for my own home use, so I
certainly wouldn't throw stones on that account.
Black market, however, is when you sell things which are illegal to purchase.
Pharmaceutical drugs produced in the USA that are legal in Europe but not
approved for sale in this country would be an example.
Now, getting back to VSOM. Buying movies from overseas or taping them off
foreign broadcasts, then DUPLICATING tapes for sale is illegal. That is what
Video Search of Miami does. And no matter what their Website states, this is
still positively illegal and compared to the case of medicines or drugs that
might be beneficial to a person's life, positively unethical since it is
robbing foreign distributors, producers and creative talent from deserved
royalties. Anybody out there who has been cheated out of their book
royalties, or depend on them for a living, can easily sympathize with this.
And as much as I'd love to know what the "Harrison act" is -- send a copy of
it to me as I'd be very interested -- and what you mean by public domain,
this country's copyright law is based on the Uruguay GATT agreements and
there are very, very few foreign films published after 1923 that are actually
public domain in this country. To know which ones that are, you not only have
to be an expert on US copyright law but each foreign country's laws as well.
And even then, sometimes you still need to know the individual contracts made
for each cast and crew member as well as the domicile of the director or
"author" of the film when they made the film. My file for this information is
quite frightening -- literally thousands of pages of laws and
interpretations. And even then, I pay an expert to do every search for me.
Yes, I'm grateful the VSOM removes titles from their catalog when I send them
a cease and desist letter, but what they do is definitely not kosher (even if
they are from Miami). And as Jessica says, it is a deterrent to honest
companies to distribute a film when so many people have bought the illegal
version. This is not a theory, but a fact since we have turned down films
when we see them out there in so many places. I'm sure Kino has done the same.
Jessica, I truly apologize if I stole your rant ;-)
Milestone Film & Video
PO Box 128
Harrington Park, NJ 07640
Phone: (201) 767-3117 or in the US (800) 603-1104
Fax: (201) 767-3035
Email: [log in to unmask]
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite