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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: September ::
Movie Stills
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0830  Thursday, 21 September 2006

[1] 	From: 	Ray Lischner <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 20 Sep 2006 13:24:50 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0821 Movie Stills

[2] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 20 Sep 2006 13:40:10 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0821 Movie Stills

[3] 	From: 	Jeffrey Jordan <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 21 Sep 2006 00:02:24 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0821 Movie Stills

[4] 	From: 	John Crowley <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 21 Sep 2006 07:47:51 -0400
	Subj: 	Movie Stills

[5] 	From: 	John Crowley <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 21 Sep 2006 08:00:45 -0400
	Subj: 	Movie stills


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Ray Lischner <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 20 Sep 2006 13:24:50 -0400
Subject: 17.0821 Movie Stills
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0821 Movie Stills

Helen Whall wrote:

 >Some suggestions, please, from
 >those who have secured rights both to stills and very short clips?

I obtained all my stills from stock photo houses.

Ray Lischner, author of Shakespeare for Dummies

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 20 Sep 2006 13:40:10 -0400
Subject: 17.0821 Movie Stills
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0821 Movie Stills

Tom Krause issues this challenge:

 >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.

All right, I'll pick up the gage.

The question seems not so much focused on the nature of the wrongful act 
(although I will address that too) as the nature of the property.  In 
his last post, Prof. Egan professed a child-like understanding of 
property when he denied that copyright was a legitimate property 
interest because it cannot be touched with our hands.  Frankly, I doubt 
that someone as sophisticated as Gabe Egan actually thinks that property 
must have physical dimensions, but I will leave for him or others to 
tell us if they would really confine protected property interests to 
non-income producing artifacts.

The most valuable property we own is intangible:  bank accounts and 
other debts, interests in business ventures, licenses to practice 
professions or trades, etc.  The common element that makes this property 
valuable is that it is capable of producing a stream of revenue.
Even real estate is valuable not because of its physical existence but 
because title imbues the owner with the right to exclude others and 
charge for use.  Consider this situation:  I purchase a vacant apartment 
house but before I can rent the apartments a group of squatters take up 
occupancy and refuse to leave.  They have not deprived me of my 
building, but they have deprived me of that which makes my building 
valuable and what I paid to receive.

Similarly, the copyright infringer does not take my property -- the 
copyright -- but he does take that which makes the copyright worth 
having: the right to receive income from granting permission to copy the 
protected work.  That income is the compensation the author receives for 
his work, inspiration, research, talent and time.  A teacher who 
lectures a class of students is entitled to by paid.  Should he not be 
paid if he writes his lectures for publication to a wider audience? 
And, in a very real sense, does not an infringer "steal" the author's 
work, inspiration, research, talent and time if he publishes the 
lectures without compensating the author?

But what about fair use?  The statute expressly recognizes that some 
uses serve a public purpose and deprive the copyright owner of 
comparatively little, so that use without permission should be allowed. 
  I do not quibble with this.  But in determining in any given case 
whether the doctrine should be applied we cannot focus exclusively on 
the nature of the use; the financial interest of the author must be 
weighed in the balance.  That is why the statute directs that the courts 
consider the "effect of the use upon the potential market or value of 
the copyrighted work."

Now here is a hypothetical case for you all to ponder:  A theoretical 
physicist spent twenty years working out a knotty problem in quantum 
field theory.  Finally he hits on a brilliant and elegant solution which 
he summarizes in a 50-word abstract supported by a two-hundred page 
article filled with complex equations proving his solution.  May another 
professor copy the abstract and distribute it to his classes without 
first obtaining permission?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jeffrey Jordan <
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Date: 		Thursday, 21 Sep 2006 00:02:24 -0500
Subject: 17.0821 Movie Stills
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0821 Movie Stills

Replying to Tom Krause.

 >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" ...

I don't think that insisting, to the public in general, that copyright 
infringement is absolutely not theft, is helpful to the rule of law.  It 
does more harm than good in general discussion.  It will only mislead 
the average person.  The average person who hears the assertion 
"copyright infringement is NOT theft!" is going to think it's all right. 
  The average person would take the meaning to be that copyright 
infringement is not offensive.  One must adjust one's "performance" for 
the intended audience, so to speak.  The use of  "theft" or "stealing" 
in reference to copyright infringement is wise  usage, in general 
discussion, to keep the idea basic for those who  have other things on 
their minds than legal technicalities.

I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist.
Trustees exclaimed, "He never bungles!"
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
"You mean," he said, "a crocodile."

(The Purist, by Ogden Nash.  And I have little doubt it's copyrighted. 
I claim fair use, as directly pertinent to this discussion.)

There's such a thing as being a little too fussy over terminology.

 >at the same time you tell us that the use of a few movie stills
 >- apparently for any purpose - ...

I didn't tell anybody that.  Quoting directly from my earlier post: 
"... for a recognized purpose."  I'd hope it was obvious I was not 
implying "fair use" in, for example, the use of stills in a defamation 
campaign against the movie maker.  "Any purpose" is not correct to my 
view, or to what I wrote.  The immediate purpose is the use of 
Shakespeare movie stills in connection with a Shakespeare presentation.

 >If a judge were to disagree with you ...

One should refrain from trying to argue as a judge unless one is one. 
Also, innocence is presumed.  Innocent fair use is going to be a 
virtually automatic defense where a few Shakespeare movie stills appear 
in a S. presentation.  The plaintiff would have to overcome that.  When 
the stills are reasonably few in number, offer no competition for movie 
revenue, and so on, the plaintiff is going to find his position untenable.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Crowley <
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Date: 		Thursday, 21 Sep 2006 07:47:51 -0400
Subject: 	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

When I was trying to locate the copyright holder for a quotation used in 
a novel, I was told by my publisher that if the search failed I needed 
only to give notice of that:  "All reasonable attempts to identify the 
copyright holder of quoted materials has been made.  If the 
publisher/author receives information regarding the rights in such 
materials, acknowledgement will be made in future editions."

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Crowley <
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Date: 		Thursday, 21 Sep 2006 08:00:45 -0400
Subject: 	Movie stills

Almost all movie posters and many movie stills from the 1940s to the 
1980s were actually copyrighted by an agency called the National Screen 
Service, which subcontracted the creation of posters, lobby cards and 
other flat art for movie lobbies.  Distributors and theater owners got 
all this material directly from National Screen Service offices, and as 
I remember from my days in the movie business (brief) NSS held the 
copyrights.  Now that they have been bought out by Technicolor Inc, I 
suppose the copyrights moved too.

As to finding stills, if you can get there, here is probably the largest 
single source in the US:  http://www.loc.gov/rr/mopic/mpstills.html

It should also be remembered that large numbers of publicity stills were 
copyright-free from the beginning.  They were intended for general 
reproduction -- they were advertising.  Many of them are stamped on the 
back "For Immediate Distribution" or some such tag meaning that they 
were reproducible without fee or other charge.

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