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March 2005, Week 3


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 08:06:37 -0500
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Jason Mittell <[log in to unmask]>
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Alas this question is nowhere near as "basic" as you anticipated.  What you
describe here is fully within the fair use window of copyright - making a
copies of a short section of a larger work for educational non-commercial
purposes.  But - and this is a huge but - it would still be considered a
federal crime if you carried it out.  Because in the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act, the entertainment industries got an anti-circumvention
provision put into the law that makes it criminal to copy material that has
anti-copying protection on it (like nearly every DVD) - even if the purpose
is fair use!  Just another example of the U.S. Government giving public
interests short shrift to maintain campaign funding...

In any case, there actually are exceptions to this facet of the DMCA, as the
Librarian of Congress can mandate particular uses legitimate (generally for
archiving obsolete media) - see Alas there's
no exception for fair use, which is tragic.

So what can we do to overcome the annoyances and limitations of teaching
with DVDs?  According to the industry, what we should do is take a video
camera and shoot the image of the material we wish to copy off of a
television - really useful for teaching visual analysis, huh?  If anyone
should choose to become a felon for pedagogy, google "DVD rip" and you'll
find plenty of resources - although (I've heard...) it's not terribly easy
to excerpt DVD material, as the file formats are not user-friendly.

I would really like to see film & media scholars take a more active role in
pushing back against Hollywood interests, making the feds (& Hollywood
itself) more aware of how these types of laws might potentially dismantle
the study of film & media, which I would argue is neither in the public nor
media industry's best interest.  If anyone is equally outraged by this state
of affairs, I highly recommend getting involved, calling your Congresspeople
(for those of you in the U.S. - I have no idea how this plays out elsewhere
in the world...), and reading some of the excellent work on copyright
activism & policy.  A good place to start is Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture

Off my soapbox,
-Jason Mittell

Jason Mittell, Assistant Professor of American Civilization and Film & Media
Middlebury College
204 Adirondack House
Middlebury, Vermont 05753
(802) 443-3435 / fax: (802) 443-5123

> Date:    Sun, 20 Mar 2005 15:18:35 -0600
> From:    Lou Thompson <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: a basic question
> Hello all,
> When I test my undergraduates, I like to show them brief clips of films =
> and ask them to comment on specific things (editing, lighting, etc).  =
> Cueing was easy enough to do with videotapes, but now that I'm using =
> DVDs almost exclusively it's becoming a problem. =20
> I was wondering if any of you have any suggestions as to hardware or =
> software that will enable me to copy these short clips (usually less =
> than a minute) for testiing purposes.=20
> Thanks.
> ______________________________________________
> Dr. Lou Ann Thompson
> Professor of English
> Department of English, Speech,  and Foreign Languages
> Texas Woman's University
> Denton, TX 76204
> _________________________________________________
> "One Law for the Lion and the Ox is Oppression"--William Blake

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