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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: September ::
Movie Stills
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0811  Tuesday, 19 September 2006

[1] 	From: 	Christopher Baker <
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	Date: 	Monday, 18 Sep 2006 13:34:58 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0804 Movie Stills

[2] 	From: 	Graham Hall <
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	Date: 	Monday, 18 Sep 2006 18:46:21 +0000
	Subj: 	Copy, right. Timon TLN 1473 -1479

[3] 	From: 	William Walsh <
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	Date: 	Monday, 18 Sep 2006 16:02:22 -0400
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0804 Movie Stills

[4] 	From: 	William L Davis <
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	Date: 	Monday, 18 Sep 2006 23:26:00 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0796 Movie Stills

[5] 	From: 	Jeffrey Jordan <
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	Date: 	Monday, 18 Sep 2006 23:19:01 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0804 Movie Stills

[6] 	From: 	John Crowley <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 19 Sep 2006 11:34:37 -0400
	Subj: 	Movie Stills


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Christopher Baker <
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Date: 		Monday, 18 Sep 2006 13:34:58 -0400
Subject: 17.0804 Movie Stills
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0804 Movie Stills

Thanks to all who have responded to my query on movie stills.  It 
generated more of a discussion than I expected, but these are 
interesting aspects of property rights I had not considered.

Chris Baker

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Graham Hall <
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Date: 		Monday, 18 Sep 2006 18:46:21 +0000
Subject: 	Copy, right. Timon TLN 1473 -1479

An observer writes:

Contributors, I must be round with you!

In the hope of avoiding a catastrophic apoplexy I have to breach my 
scilens and shout out that I am going to burst a blood-vessel if some 
SHAKSPERians doesn't introduce to the "copyright" thread the scandal of 
printing conglomerates hijacking, monopolising and dictating with 
ever-increasing ferocity the content of and access to academic 
publications. This impinges upon Shakespeare studies as much as to other 
fields with great deleterious effect. Worse, it's being done only for 
ducats. Copyright me no copyright. Their baseness is a far greater 
horror than some impecunious student sticking a still from a Branagh 
epic as an illustration into an essay already past its deadline, or some 
nursing home matron giving the residents a collective public viewing of 
Baz Luhrmann's latest in the common parlour while failing to send 
Twentieth Century Rank Brothers Dreamworks (Yes, I know! So don't 
write!) dosh.

Troylus and Cresida TLN 1239

Best,
G

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		William Walsh <
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Date: 		Monday, 18 Sep 2006 16:02:22 -0400
Subject: 17.0804 Movie Stills
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0804 Movie Stills

Of possible interest.  The British Academy released a report today on 
the effect of copyright on scholarship in the humanities and social 
sciences in the UK.

http://www.britac.ac.uk/reports/copyright/contents.html

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		William L Davis <
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Date: 		Monday, 18 Sep 2006 23:26:00 -0400
Subject: 17.0796 Movie Stills
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0796 Movie Stills

I find it interesting how the discussion has departed so quickly from 
what, to my view, was the original point.  Gabriel Egan's first response 
to Chris Baker clearly showed that he believed people would not face any 
legal repercussions if they were to appropriate copyrighted material 
without permission, specifically in educational situations.  Having 
spent several years working in the area of intellectual property and 
copyright law, I knew his assumptions were simply wrong.  Even though he 
apparently has not ever met someone who has faced such a situation, his 
lack of exposure to the cases involving these matters does not equate to 
their absence. My original response was intended to state as much, and 
to offer fair warning to those who might make the mistake of assuming 
his position on the matter was correct.

Now, however, in the course of explaining copyright matters, we have 
shifted from how the law works (descriptive) to how we think it should 
work (prescriptive), moving into philosophical views that depart far 
away from the original point.  It feels a lot like the old bait and 
switch selling tactics at department stores, where we enter with one 
premise and are immediately hounded to pursue another.   It seems to me 
this discussion was less about discovering how property law actually 
works, but more about providing a stage for personal ax grinding.  Yes, 
we can trace the history of intellectual property law, quibble over 
definitions related to those laws, express our personal judgments about 
those laws, but ultimately the question comes back to the original 
point:  If you appropriate copyrighted material without permission, will 
you run the risk of getting into legal trouble for it?  And the answer, 
whether we like it or not, whether we agree with it or not, whether we 
support it not, is still a resounding "Yes."

Now, let's see, where is that naked movie still of Falstaff?  I knew I 
had it here somewhere....

William

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jeffrey Jordan <
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Date: 		Monday, 18 Sep 2006 23:19:01 -0500
Subject: 17.0804 Movie Stills
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0804 Movie Stills

Replying to Larry Weiss.

 >Jeffrey Jordan's otherwise admirable post says it is "replying to"
 >me when he quotes the following passage ...

I simply meant I was replying to the post from Mr. Weiss.  The quoted 
lines were in his post.  There was no intent to imply Mr. Weiss was 
personally responsible for the statute language or had to argue it.   I 
like to mention whose post I'm replying to, since I find it makes the 
discussion easier to follow.  It makes it easier to backtrack.

 >He is not replying to anything I said. ...

Agreed, I was not replying to Mr. Weiss's personal views, but was 
expressing my own views in response to the legal language he happened to 
include.

 >One thing that must be considered is whether the work being
 >copied is the movie or a photograph having a separate copyright.
 >...

Agreed, that is an important point, whether the "still" is one from the 
ordinary run of the movie, or was taken under separate contract and with 
separate copyright.  It could make a great difference.  As I understood 
the original post, Chris Baker meant stills taken directly from the 
movie.  But he may not have, and only he could answer that.

 >Making assumptions of the character reflected by Jeffrey's
 >analysis often gets good people into bad trouble.

Not until people are no longer allowed to use quotes from literary 
works.  There really is such a thing as "fair use," well established in 
law, and motion pictures enjoy no exemption from the law.   Moviemakers, 
themselves, have been sued over it.  Indeed, as recently  as 1997 the 
U.S. Supreme Court ruled that moviemakers, themselves,  had some "fair 
use" defense in using copyrighted pictures as movie  props, without 
compensation to the copyright owner of the pictures.   See Jackson v. 
Warner Bros., Inc., Civil Action No. 96-CV-72976 (Aug.  29, 1997) (Hood, 
J.) (Docket No. 18, 14 pp.)  As long as we're doin' legal stuff.  The 
time standard the Court applied in that case was "60 seconds" (it 
concerned a feature film.)  For a movie running at 30 frames per second, 
that Court time standard, if also applied, would be some 1800 stills per 
movie.  One does not expect the Court to be entirely consistent, 
however, so any simple calculation should be viewed with utmost caution. 
  But there isn't going to be any problem with using a few ordinary 
stills taken out of an ordinary movie, for a recognized purpose.  It's 
"fair use" to use a few Shakespeare movie stills in connection with a 
Shakespeare discussion.

Replying to Tom Krause.

 >Copyright infringement is not theft, not even under the Berne 
Convention. ...

No argument, the usage is loose, legally speaking.  Common language 
doesn't make fine legal distinctions.  But, what common word is one 
supposed to apply that will not be objectionable somehow in technical 
legal terms?  You'll not find any such word.  One would make ordinary 
discussion impossible.

 >... please do so with reference to the differences between criminal and
 >civil law, the elements of each crime/tort,  ...

That simply isn't practical in general discussion, and also, theft can 
be both punishable and compensable, that is, both criminal and civil 
procedures can apply to theft, so the difference is not really worth 
marking in general discussion.  As far as the public is concerned, 
stealin' is stealin', and the legal technicalities are not enforced 
around the water cooler.

 >I(2) that each time a copyrighted work is copied without permission,
 >the copyright owner loses a sale, that would be nice too.

It is not necessary to prove, individually, that every murder is wrong, 
in order to prove murder is wrong.  "Every instance" has nothing to do 
with it.  Copyright infringement is wrong, in any case, whether 
financial loss in the particular case is readily demonstrable or not. 
The practicality that only some offenses are punished is no voice 
against the principle of law, itself.  Practicality will determine 
whether a particular case reaches the courts, but that's all.  It 
doesn't make "getting away with it" right.

The follow-up post by Larry Weiss is quite interesting, but concerns 
earlier times, before DVDs.  The digital revolution, and the computer 
revolution, will probably lead to some further, minor changes in 
copyright law, but there's no reason I know of to think that the basics 
of fair use will change just because the media have gone digital.  There 
is no reason to think that taking a digital frame is less fair use than 
taking a quote from a novel.

And I do hope somebody is helping Chris Baker find the stills he's 
looking for.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Crowley <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 19 Sep 2006 11:34:37 -0400
Subject: 	Movie Stills

Larry Weiss is right that most movie stills are not frames taken from 
the movie -- in fact almost none are -- they are the work of the stills 
photographer, or certainly were -- that person even gets a credit on 
most older films.  On the other hand that photographer is unlikely to 
have any rights in the pictures produced, they being "work for hire" in 
almost all cases.

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