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copyright stuff...hope this is in the right forum

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by jongaduet, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. jongaduet

    jongaduet Member

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    What would you all do if someone up the food chain wanted you to do something that infringes on copyright law, like project stolen video with no license to show it (or something like that).

    Is it worth raising a fuss about? It doesn't seem like I, the peon, could get in trouble for just pressing go, but i'm curious...
     
  2. WesternTD

    WesternTD Member

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    I would point out that the actual cost of ASCAP or BMI fees are super cheap most of the time, and worth paying, as it affects our industry.
    This assumes that your media is licensed through one of these agencies, of course it can vary depending on who is handling the rights.
    I think ASCAP-I'll probably get corrected on this-calculates the duration of the media and the count of the audience to get their dollar figure. As an example, a few licensed 5 minute songs in our 1100-seat theatre comes to something under 10 bucks.
     
  3. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    Yeah, it is actually illegal here to show most DVDs in schools. I got really bored once and actually read all that text that says "Warning" at the start of every DVD. Legally, yes, it does have to be done, if you were trying to make money from it, or anything like that, then you could get into a lot of trouble. It is illegal no matter what, chances are you will never get into trouble, its more of a moral decision. My views are based on the size of the show. But what I deem as "To Small to Matter" could cause me a lot of trouble. It is the same as downloading MP3s without paying for it, I'm not condoning it, and it is illegal, but a lot of people chose to take the risk.

    It's up to you, if you do feel it aught to be brought up, just take the appropriate party aside and mention it to them, say that you don't want to be a "goodie goodie" but you feel that they are risking a hefty fine, and that you don't want that on your conscience, then I'm sure whoever it is making these decisions would listen, and if they say that they feel the risk is too small, then should they get into trouble, you can always defend yourself by say you brought this up with them.

    Nick
     
  4. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    The US Copyright office has a pretty good website that discusses all aspects of copyright law.

    U.S. Copyright Office

    I think there are a few other college law school sites (maybe Cornell) that have good discussions,too.

    In your original post, it sounded like the video was being used as part of a show/production, rather than as, say, part of a lecture or something educational/critical. If truly the latter, that "fair use" parts of the law would probably apply.


    Joe
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    As JWL pointed out "fair use" is a critical concept here. While it allows some bending of the rules, it almost never applies to any sort of public performance. If the event isn't publicized and its open to a small group it might be legal under fair use. However showing part or all of a film in any sort of public performance is almost always illegal without permission and royalties.

    The truth. You probably won't get in trouble as a theater and you personally probably will be the last one to get in trouble if you get caught. They will probably go after whoever runs the theater.

    My suggestion. Do some more research about what the penalties are for doing what you are being told to do and what it would cost to do it legally. Then write an e-mail to your boss saying, "I'm really uncomfortable with what is going on. These are the potential consequences... this is what it would take to do it legally..." Be informative, not disrespectful or confrontational. Suggest that you take a look at establishing a theater policy about copyright law. Do your job and keep track of the copy of the letter in your outgoing e-mail box in case you get busted. So you can say, "I tried to tell you not to do it."

    If you don't get any positive response, bring it up again a few months after the event is over (perhaps even going over your bosses head). However this time bring up the need for a policy generally when a specific show isn't on the line. Push whoever your upper management is to make a policy that everyone will have to follow. This sort of thing happens far too often and to me isn't worth getting fired over so be informative not confrontational. Research and show them the potential consequences vs. the costs of doing it right. "They" are out there looking for rule breakers and they do bust theaters so for the long term good of whomever pays the bills it is a very wise thing to have a strict policy and follow it.

    Also if you are going to post openly questions like this, it might be a good idea to not include the exact name and location of where you work in your signature. ;)
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2009
  6. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    It is worth pointing out that there is no law enforcement division or group for copyright (for example, like the ATF.) By and large, copyright law is civil rather than criminal law (although there are criminal violations: cybercrime.gov). Thus, there are no “copyright police”. But if a copyright holder becomes aware of an infringement, then their lawyer will send the offender a letter and/or start a case against the offender.

    “They” might be anyone – an agent/employee of an organization that owns lots of copyrights; a friend of a friend of a friend of a copyright holder; someone with an axe to grind with the venue/performer; someone who has been infringed upon and just looks out for others.


    Joe
     
  7. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Excellent advice so far.

    I'm a church tech guy in addition to a theatre guy, and also in the unlucky position of knowing the most about copyright law at our place. Every few months I find I have another reason to educate the rest of the church staff on what the law says we can and can't do.

    Our guys are pretty good -- but man, churches are worse than theatres. Often they think that "doing the work of God" means they don't have to follow copyright laws. :)
     
  8. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    Schools and churches....in schools it, "But it's for the good of the children!"

    Just think of most school dance shows, where all of the music is played off of purchased CDs while the dance group charges admission.
     
  9. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Not entirely true. I listened to a gentleman on the radio just last week who's sole job was to go to bars/clubs/ect and count violations of copyright as they were played. He worked for BMI or ASCAP so he wasn't government sanctioned, but he was policing his company's copyrights.
     
  10. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    By "police", I meant that there was no government agency that enforces the copyright laws. The burden of enforcement is essentially on the copyright holder.

    Joe
     
  11. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Hence the comment "not govermnet sanctioned."

    But everyone should know that the BMI and ASCAP activley police their copyrights. Period.
     

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