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September 1991


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 1 Sep 1991 13:25:16 CDT
text/plain (60 lines)
This is a bit old, but I couldn't let it pass by....
> From: Dan Lester <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject:      Re: Kinko's Fallout
>    It is absolutely vital that we, as librarians and scholars and students,
>support the laws in this area.  They are for YOUR benefit if you are an
>author. I may not always agree with some of the laws or their interpretations
>but I will sure as hell follow them.   My job is on the line.
I'm sure I don't understand why "we," whoever that might be, have to
support these laws.  As a teacher and a student, they make my life
miserable, and they prevent me from teaching what I want and from
learning what I want.  And let's get real: they are not for MY benefit
if I am an author.
Gaining permission to reprint articles for a course packet here at UWM
cost over $3,000, and the packet had less than 100 pages.  And who gets
this money?  Sure, some authors see some of this money, no doubt, but most
academic authors do not make more than popcorn cash from their royalties.
The publishers, whose claim that xeroxing ten copies of a ten page chapter
was taking away substantial business, pocket the dough.  Meanwhile, they
also get to set the prices themselves, which may be capitalism at its
best, but it certainly prevents the open exchange of ideas in the
academy, since public universities like UWM simply can't afford to pay
as much as the publishers want.
I am no expert on copyright law nor on the publishing industry, but this
decision has had a chilling effect at UWM.  I have to collect money from
students to provide reading materials (and yes, Dan, I'm probably breaking
the law) for my students, who can't afford to pay twenty bucks for a
new, "legal" course packet.  I can't wait the two months it takes to get
permissions, nor can I expect my commuter students to get to campus to
xerox reserve articles or order their own copies from the local Kinko's.
And what kind of substantial business am I tapping into, anyways?  For
whose financial benefit?  Certainly not mine.
This "law and order" attitude bugs me, though I realize for many people
it's simply necessary in the face of these prohibitions, and I might eat
any civil disobedience proclamation I might wish to make.  Still, the
situation as it stands it bad news, and here in Wisconsin (where there
is a recession, by the way), we're faced with choosing "text books" and
not being able to provide students with current academic work in our
areas.  That is frightening to me.
A closer: has anyone heard about this electronic copyright confirmation
system that is being set up?  It sounds great, and might make a lot of
these blues go away.  I'm not sure who's organizing it, or funding it,
but I think there's a group of publishers working with academics on it.
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