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June 1998, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Jeremy Butler <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 4 Jun 1998 08:02:16 -0500
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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I found this piece interesting.  I'm particularly wondering if it's
referring to *frame enlargements* or specifically to production/promotional
At the start it sounds like the case revolves around a frame enlargement
("a single still photo culled from a motion picture"), but then toward the
end it states:
>Both parties agreed that the photo was
>originally used as a promotional still for the MGM movie ``Laurel & Hardy's
>Laughing 20's.''
It's long been established that promotional photographs, like most
professionally created photographs, are themselves copyrighted and thus
cannot be reproduced without permission.  However, Kristin Thompson has
argued (see her CINEMA JOURNAL report) that frame enlargements are a
different phenomenon--as you might expect from someone who's excellent
textbook (FILM ART) is filled with hundreds of such frame enlargements.
Does anyone have further details on this HOLLYWOOD REPORTER case?  Was it
indeed a promotional photograph and not a frame enlargement?
On Wed, 3 Jun 1998 10:08:26 Kino International Corporation
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>I do not think this was listed yet on screen L and as it clearly can have a
>major impact on future books & articles I am borrowing it from the archives
>list serve
>Court Rejects Fair Use Defense In Copyright Case
>HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - In a decision that could serve as a warning to
>publishers,a federal judge in N.Y. has upheld a copyright infringement
>claim involving the use of a single still photo culled from a motion
>Richard Feiner & Co. was granted summary judgment Wednesday in U.S.
>District Court in New York against HRI Industries, which owns the Hollywood
>Reporter, for copyright infringement on the use of a Laurel & Hardy motion
>picture still that the paper ran in a March 1997 issue.
>According to Gregory A. Sioris, the attorney representing Feiner, the most
>significant part of the ruling is the court's rejection of the ``fair use''
>defense to copyright infringement.
>In rejecting HRI's argument that the use of one still photo from an
>underlying work is de minimis, or legally insignificant, and therefore a
>fair use, the decision set an important precedent, reversing traditional
>fair use guidelines followed by magazines and newspapers.
>The ruling, which covers only the southern district of New York in which
>the case was heard, can still be appealed by HRI. Executives at the
>Hollywood Reporter could not be reached for comment.
>Feiner, who is the sole copyright holder and licensor for several Laurel &
>Hardy movies, initially sued HRI in October last year over the use of a
>motion picture still of Laurel & Hardy from their silent film ``Liberty,''
>which is one of the films he owns. The photo shows the two comedians in a
>precarious predicament on top of a high-rise building under construction.
>According to court documents, the newspaper bought the photo from Bison
>Archives, a stock photo agency. Both parties agreed that the photo was
>originally used as a promotional still for the MGM movie ``Laurel & Hardy's
>Laughing 20's.'' The Hollywood Reporter colorized the photo and ran it in a
>``Crafts Series'' section in its March 12, 1997 issue. The paper credited
>Bison as the source of the photo.
>After Feiner sued the Hollywood Reporter, the paper moved to dismiss
>Feiner's complaint on several grounds including copyright permission by
>MGM, public domain and fair use. The court rejected all these defenses in
>its opinion granting summary judgment.
>- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> -John Tariot
>  The Stock, Archival & News Footage Network
>  603-643-0515   fax 603-643-0288
>Sounds like fun doesn't it.
Jeremy Butler
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Telecommunication & Film/University of Alabama/Tuscaloosa
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