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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: September ::
Movie Stills
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0821  Wednesday, 20 September 2006

[1] 	From: 	Helen Whall <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 19 Sep 2006 14:28:46 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0811 Movie Stills

[2] 	From: 	Tom Krause <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 20 Sep 2006 07:50:09 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0811 Movie Stills


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Helen Whall <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 19 Sep 2006 14:28:46 -0400
Subject: 17.0811 Movie Stills
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0811 Movie Stills

A pragmatic question: How does one get a movie studio to reply to 
requests for permissions?  I very much prefer to err on the side of 
caution with the reproduction of images but have yet to identify a 
simple path to securing permission for movie stills. Libraries, Presses, 
and Theater Companies are ready to deal with these requests. But I have 
sent a few letters to things like "Legal Department/SuchabdSuch Movie 
Industries never to hear anything back.  Some suggestions, please, from 
those who have secured rights both to stills and very short clips?

Helen Whall

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Tom Krause <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 20 Sep 2006 07:50:09 -0400
Subject: 17.0811 Movie Stills
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0811 Movie Stills

I agree that this has gone far afield and hope it will end soon, but I 
only "quibbled" with the definition of "copyright infringement" when 
three consecutive posters, holding themselves out as knowledgeable, 
equated it with "theft."

Now I am asked for a "common word" other than "theft" that can be used 
to describe copyright infringement. I'm sorry, the only word for it is 
"copyright infringement." Everyone is familiar with the term; feel free 
to tell us how copyright infringement resembles theft, or how you think 
copyright infringers should be hung as thieves (if that's your view), 
but please resist the temptation to equate the two.

Copyright infringement is a relatively recent statutory creation that 
covers a broad spectrum of conduct, ranging from girl scouts singing a 
song around a campfire to piracy for profit. While we might agree with 
the economic argument that if the girl scouts don't pony up, some future 
songwriter will simply throw in the towel and go to law school rather 
than write the next "Happy Birthday" song, and we might agree that 
infringement of any right created by our legislature is in some sense 
"immoral," that doesn't make singing the song "theft." The "property" at 
issue in a copyright infringement case is the copyright itself, not the 
expectation of receiving payment from a particular use of the work. In 
contrast to copyright infringement, theft always involves a victim who 
has been deprived of tangible property, and has always been condemned as 
immoral by civilized societies. For more on the moral differences 
differences between copyright and theft, check out: 
http://stlr.stanford.edu/STLR/Articles/06_STLR_5/Manesh-immorality.pdf

Moreover, fair use (a necessary accommodation to the right to free 
speech) is a limitation on copyright infringement that has no analog in 
"theft." Given that the readers of this list are much more likely to be 
concerned with the uses that are either fair use, or borderline fair 
use, we are not talking about "theft" or anything like it, but the 
arcane and often very tricky question of how to apply the fair use 
factors to a particular set of facts.

I'm a bit puzzled by your response Jeffrey Jordan - you continue to 
insist that "the difference [between copyright infringement and theft] 
is not really worth marking in general discussion" and "[a]s far as the 
public is concerned, stealin' is stealin', and the legal technicalities 
are not enforced around the water cooler," but at the same time you tell 
us that the use of a few movie stills - apparently for any purpose - is 
fair use. If a judge were to disagree with you on that issue and hold it 
to be copyright infringement, would you turn around and call the person 
who followed your advice a thief?

n.b. The Warner Bros. case you cite is not a Supreme Court case; it's 
out of the Eastern District of Michigan, two levels below the Supreme 
Court. And while it comes down strongly on the side of fair use on its 
facts (use of copyrighted pictures in a movie), it is unlikely to have 
much bearing on a decision on our facts (unspecified use of copyrighted 
pictures from a movie).

Tom Krause

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