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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: September ::
Movie Stills
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0782  Tuesday, 12 September 2006

[1] 	From: 	Jeffrey Jordan <
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	Date: 	Friday, 8 Sep 2006 16:21:01 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0777 Movie Stills

[2] 	From: 	William L Davis <
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	Date: 	Saturday, 09 Sep 2006 16:29:23 -0400
	Subj: 	SHK 17.0777 Movie Stills


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jeffrey Jordan <
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Date: 		Friday, 8 Sep 2006 16:21:01 -0500
Subject: 17.0777 Movie Stills
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0777 Movie Stills

Gabriel Egan is right about the "fair use" of movie stills under the 
copyright laws.  Using a movie still is essentially the same as quoting 
from a print publication.  You could take the still yourself, as 
described.  When you use the still, you're simply "quoting" what you're 
talking about.  It's really no different from using a quote taken from 
print.  "I-am-not-a-lawyer," but do have some familiarity with copyright 
law.

I don't have any of the movies listed by Chris Baker.  Anybody who does 
could send stills to him.

And if there's no existing archive of Shakespeare movie stills, that's 
set up especially to serve the educational community, somebody should 
create one.  Perhaps preferably at a university which has recognized 
courses for both movies and theater (or wants to have.)   The 
educational value isn't even arguable, in my opinion, in this video age. 
  I don't know of any such archive now.  I tried a few Google searches, 
but didn't find a general Shakespeare movie stills archive.  Start one 
soon, at a university near you.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		William L Davis <
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Date: 		Saturday, 09 Sep 2006 16:29:23 -0400
Subject: Movie Stills
Comment: 	SHK 17.0777 Movie Stills

Chris,

Along with the suggestions Gabriel Egan offered, I would like to suggest 
a couple more.  There is a software program that works on both Mac and 
Windows called "handbrake."  It's free, and you can use it to rip files 
from DVD's.  A search on Google should bring it up (it works best on a 
Mac, and you may need to search around a bit for the Windows version). 
If you have Windows, Gabriel's comments should work fine.  If you have a 
Mac, however, there's some simple things to make this work.  After 
downloading the software and ripping the movies onto your drive off the 
DVD, you can open the file in Quicktime Pro (the pro version costs $30), 
and then export it as an image sequence.  Voila, you have your series of 
stills.  There are several other methods as well, depending on the 
software you own, but that's another avenue.

Now, regarding legalities, fair use, etc., my wife's husband's cousin's 
third uncle's step-daughter is not a lawyer. Not one of them works in a 
law firm that focuses on intellectual property or copyright law. 
However, I do. I have for several years.  In fact, I currently work in a 
law firm that focuses specifically on these areas, and I formerly worked 
with another firm that additionally handled litigation with these 
matters. We have already discussed some of these issues in the past on 
this website, so I'll refer you to my earlier response (Monday, June 21, 
2004, RE: SHK 15.1320 Copyright Question).  I would encourage you to be 
a bit more cautious than Gabriel advises.  Gabriel asked for the 
identification of a single case of someone getting into trouble for 
using material without permission in an educational work, suggesting 
that such situations were fantasies. They are not. The book I referenced 
in my posting (one reference among many I have at the firm) contains 
literally thousands of copyright infringement cases, and educational 
matters are littered abundantly among them. But rather than referring to 
cases that have actually gone to court or arbitration (most are resolved 
before ever reaching that stage), I'll share a few of my own recent 
experiences briefly.

Two weeks ago, one of our clients found her song lyrics posted on a 
website.  The person responsible attributed her work to someone else. 
Our client was miffed. She contacted us and asked us to follow up. The 
person wasn't making any money, but it upset our client that she did not 
receive proper credit (how would we feel if we published an article in a 
scholarly journal and the editor attributed the authorship to someone 
else?  No problem, right?). So, we contacted the website owner and asked 
them to remove the material.  Is this a lucrative business for us? No. 
In fact, hell no. It's an annoyance. We have another client who has a 
series of well-known books for children.  We are approached, virtually 
on a weekly basis, to have excerpts from these books included in 
educational reading materials for elementary children, as well as 
educational testing programs for reading comprehension. If an 
educational institution/group/individual started appropriating this 
material without asking permission (permission is usually given with a 
nominal fee, or no fee at all), and if the owner and/or publisher found 
out about it, I guarantee it would not be overlooked.  Normally, we 
assume that people just didn't realize what their legal obligations 
were, and the infringement is innocent. If, however, they were to adopt 
the attitude that Gabriel Egan has expressed in his posting(s) on this 
matter and we found out about it, we would likely...how shall I say this 
eloquently....nail their ass to the wall. Last month, a high school band 
wanted to use their own arrangement of one of our client's songs. The 
instructor, however, changed the time signature, which warped the song 
into a strange, distorted version of the original. Following our 
client's wishes, we denied permission for the arrangement. If they were 
to go ahead and do their own version anyway, they would get into serious 
trouble --- educational setting or not. I could literally go on for 
hours speaking about the situations involving our clients alone, 
situations that have happened just in the last couple of months, forget 
about the formal cases appearing in the law books. But the moral is 
this: the idea that such situations are fantasies that don't exist is 
quite an astounding, if not appalling, position to adopt.

Here's a little advice (and this is not intended or to be taken as 
formal legal advice, just friendly suggestions).  If your project is for 
your school class, a presentation to the kids, no money being charged 
for admission, I wouldn't worry so much about it (that is unless you're 
taking someone's name and likeness and putting him/her into a 
compromising situation or context to which that person would object 
because it reflects on their character in a slanderous way, or 
misrepresents who they are). If your project is educational, but you are 
receiving compensation (ticket sales, for example, or selling your own 
homemade DVD's, or doing a show, etc), then the law requires you to get 
permission from the copyright owner. It's only fair. It's a simple 
process of writing a letter to the copyright owner, explaining the use, 
and asking for permission. It's really no big deal, and the people 
controlling such usage are usually really good and fair about it. There 
is a teacher who has made a presentation based on one of our client's 
works, and she travels to different schools to give performances. She 
pays a nominal percentage of her gross income received from those 
presentations to the client (which, again, is only fair - after all, her 
presentations wouldn't exist without the client's work being published 
in the first place). Attempting to cover all the scenarios is not 
possible here, but I think you get the point. I cringe at the cavalier 
approach that says, "Take what you want, use what you want, use it 
however you want, and don't worry about it." It's not about getting away 
with it. It's about the ethics of fair play. If I walk into a candy 
store and the clerk is in the backroom, I could probably take a handful 
of candy, never pay for it, and get away with it. And even if I got 
caught, I probably wouldn't get into much trouble. So why not do it? 
Because it's a matter of personal ethics: it's not about what I can get 
away with, but what's fair and appropriate. Finally, if you should get 
into trouble, always remember that Gabriel has made a public 
pronouncement of his indemnification on your behalf. If anyone gives you 
a hard time, just provide them with a copy of Gabriel's posting as proof 
of your intentions to do well, along with evidence of his generous 
promise of liability against damages and costs arising from his advice.

Cheers,
William Davis

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