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February 2003, Week 3


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Tim Shary <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 17 Feb 2003 11:01:31 -0500
text/plain (68 lines)
    I'm not sure about Canada, but I know that in the U.S. this kind of
practice is clearly forbidden.  The law specifically states-- and this is on
the warning of every VHS tape and DVD-- that the films are for use "in
homes" and not for public exhibition.  I think that schools are bending this
law when they screen tapes and discs for classes, but as long as they don't
charge for the actual screening, I suppose it's technically fair use.  (Then
again, they are charging for the courses, and using copyrighted materials in
a for-profit forum, so perhaps this isn't such fair use after all.)

    I can tell you this: in the early '90s a nursing home here in
Massachusetts was busted for showing VHS movies in the lounge of their
clinic.  I seem to recall the argument revolving around the fact that the
"home" was more akin to an apartment building, and not technically a private
residence in itself, and therefore showing tapes to a crowd was thus
"public" exhibition.  I can't remember if the nursing home was fined-- and
I'd love to know what bureaucrat was mean enough to rat on a nursing home--
but I do recall the case getting some attention as a warning against
non-home VHS use.

Dr. Timothy Shary
Assistant Professor of Screen Studies
Traina Center for the Arts
Clark University
Worcester, MA  01610

on 2/15/03 3:21 PM, Darryl Wiggers at [log in to unmask] wrote:

> The following is a question that relates specifically to Canada, but I'd be
> curious to hear if the situation is different elsewhere.
> First, the predicament: This week I began to suspect a planned film festival
> in Canada had not received authorization to screen a number of films on its
> schedule. I started by contacting the major studios in question, such as
> Paramount and Fox, and worked my way down to smaller suppliers. Most had not
> heard of the festival, nor gave permission to screen their films -- and
> obviously hadn't sent prints.
> Near as I could figure the festival organizer was planning to show the films
> via dvd and video projection (possibly even using bootleg videos) charging
> about $5/film up to festival passes in the amount of $200. In one case of a
> supplier I contacted, they verified a vhs screener was sent to the festival
> for preview purposes, but the film was never booked. Yet it was on the
> schedule.
> The suppliers I contacted immediately made "cease and desist" calls and the
> titles were dropped. Meanwhile the theatre that was booked turned out not to
> have properly reserved (no deposit was made for example), so the festival is
> now cancelled anyway. But I have good reason to believe the chief organizer
> will try to pull a similar stunt again.
> My question is: Is there a specific crime or offence for attempting such a
> blatant abuse of copyrighted material (beyond the warnings posted on all
> videos) that relates specifically to Canada? What are the restrictions
> elsewhere? Has anyone heard of such a practice before? In particular I
> wonder about those who may have travelled to this festival, booked hotel
> rooms, bought tickets -- and are now out-of-pocket hundreds of dollars.
> ----
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