Re: Reply: Reproducting stills and Fair Use
I've resisted joining this thread for five days now. But it doesn't seem like it is going to end anytime soon. So here are a few notes:

1. Whoever quoted the four principles on Friday had it right. (Lost the post.) That's what lawyers think about fair use. It is really just a question of money.

2. It is inconceivable that stills (or even clips) used in real classes can be construed as contravening existing US copyright law. It is equally inconceivable that stills used in academic or critical books could be in contravention. There is no case law on this that I know of. Show me the money.

I am not a lawyer. Don't call me whedn Disney sues you.

3. All studio publicity stills that I've ever seen are stamped "permission granted for newspaper and magazine use only." It doesn't say books, but.... I know of only one film book published in the last thirty years where the publisher felt it necessary to buy permissions for all stills.  I forget the title, but it was published by Holt. It cost three times the average pb book price at the time. Even frame grabs seem to fit fair use when used in a critical context.

4. I got threatened with a suit only once. And that wasn't about stills. Max Liebman was angry enough about a reference in How To Read a Film (first ed) to "Your Show of Shows" to sic the lawyers on us. The correct title, he maintained, was "Max Liebman's Your Show of Shows." He didn't mention the stills we printed. I promised to correct the title in the next printing and he didn't sue.

(However, all the four hours of footage on the DVD-ROM version of How To Read a Film was formally licensed. It took years and cost a fortune. I am undecided whether or not it was necessary. I think I could argue that the clips were fair use.)

5. In the late 1980s we were planning to publish a very good MS about The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Of course we needed illustrations. The MTM production company refused to provide them and threatened to sue if we published the book. Their position was that any book about the show belonged to them. (It wasn't just the stills, it was the characters, the plots, the ideas...whatever!) This is absurd. But, guess what? We didn't publish the book. Looking back I realize this was my first encounter with what has come to be known as the "hi-jacking of copyright." What was once intended to protect authors and artists has been twisted to protect corporate revenue streams.

6. It has been clear for ten years that copyright's days were numbered. If it's digital, it's free. And ubiquitous.

There have been a lot of posts on this topic the last few days, but I have received more adverts for DVD copy software in that time period than Screen-L posts. Whether it is VCD or "DivX" just about anyone can easily copy a DVD-Video. Yes, these are reduced copies, but the authentic Pioneer DVDr drive that cost $30,000  in early 2000 is now built into the high-end iMac, which sets you back  $1,799.

Here's a quote (fair use, I hope) from Time online last week. This company was selling DivX movies online from Taiwan for a buck each:

In an exclusive interview with TIME last week, founder S.E. Tan said that while he was aware that the site violated U.S. copyright law, its operations were careful to remain within its reading of the copyright laws of Taiwan, where most of its servers are based. "We have spent three months studying the law in Taiwan, talking to all the authorities we can get," Tan said last week, before the latest action by the Taipei authority. "According to the law, if a movie is not released in Taiwan within 30 days of its release elsewhere, it is no longer protected by Taiwan's copyright law."

Full story:,8599,203691,00.html

A whole other take on globalization!

7. I am looking forward to the death of copyright this year. I decided several years ago that copyright--at least as we have known it--is counterproductive.  Imagine a world where you can't make money writing books, making movies, recording music!  (Well, the first is already true.)

I can hardly wait! Think of all the dreck that will disappear, almost overnight!

8. I'm not surprised this thread has gone on so long. (What is the record for a Screen-L thread?)  The question of "Intellectual Property" is fascinating.

There are several links you might find interesting at http://readfilm/piracy.htm

Also, there's a great book about the history of copyright by Paul Goldstein: "Copyright's Highway." It is out of print but if you can find a copy, buy it!


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