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From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Feb 06 2006 - 22:50:18 PST

steve asked;

> This always comes up---these places which rent films
> and make unauthorized dupes... No one ever names the
> culprits. Has anyone heard of a distributor taking any
> sort of action against this or is this just some
> sub-cultural "urban myth"?

As i wrote recently here, this is not an urban myth in the sense that it
never happened, but may have taken on mythological qualities of
exaggeration as i do not believe the practice continues to be widespread
since fewer film scholars have access to working film chains.

re: lawyers
Big universities may have lawyers (plural) but small colleges usually only
have one attorney. These lawyers, like most corporate lawyers see their
job as reducing the client's (read administration and trustees)
'exposure', and as such answer 'no' to almost any questions and are
complete cowards when it comes to defending any of the legitimate fair-use
rights of faculty (including the use of frame stills in research etc.).
They will almost always instruct faculty to cave when any copyright holder
says 'boo'.

re: contracts
I know CC has a list of rental conditions on their site (an 'agreement' if
not a 'contract') that explicitly forbids any sort of copying and i'm
pretty sure fmc has the same. however, there would be several reasons for
the coops NOT to sue a school for violating said agreement:

1. the lawyers would cost them money they don't have, and the judgements
likely wouldn't yield either the coops, or more importantly the lawyers,
any money.

2. it's difficult to pursue civil suits across state lines. you need
attorneys licensed to practice in both states.

3. since any schools that do any illicit taping are probably also among
the co-op's most frequent renters, unlike the riaa the co-ops are not
stupid and arrogant enough to attack their best customers

4. the co-ops may know that any academic pirates as may still be operating
really do restrict the tapes for study fairly stringently, and the
circulation is low enough to be a non-issue economically. dominic's video
complaint was about legit video copies cutting into rental numbers.

5. the co-ops may well be smart enough to know that the grad students who
view the crappy bootlegs today, and maybe even squirrel away a 2nd or 3rd
generation copy of a favorite film or two, are there customers who will be
renting films in the future. (i spend more of our budget in one semester
renting films for the experimental class i teach than we spend on video
acquisitions for all the other classses we offer over a several year
period combined.)

[this btw is how the software industry works. officially all piracy is
unequivically denounced. but the industry knows kids use warez versions of
maya and softimage to train themselves as animators, creating a workforce
and future professionals who _will_ by licenses once they start being
succesful because its easier than hassling with the piracy system and
because their careers depend on projecting legitimacy to their clients.]

folks, bootlegs are one of the most common ways people outside of major
urban centers develop a lasting love for these odd little works of
outsider art -- somebody initiates them into the world of experimental
film by showing them a crappy video they're not supposed to have. yes,
it's great for those who have endless passion, energy, time and
grantwriting ability to dream the utopian dream of starting up a new
screening series in tierra del fuego. i, for one, have no idea how roger
beebe does it, what with teaching and writing and making his own films.
maybe he's cloned himself. i do know that i am not him and i cannot do
that, nor can anyone else i know.

i wish the purists on this list would just get over it, and realize that
art is always an open text, that different people find different things to
value in it, and that a awful lot of people who care for experimental film
do so for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the differance
between video and film or between film formats or between good prints and
bad prints or good venues and crappy venues. it is arrogant to say the
least for the critic or even the maker to elevate their particular concept
of a work to the form that _everyone_ must experience. (in politics we
call this 'fascism'). fred, who believes in the sanctity of light through
celuloid advocates that we pursue that experience by any means necessary,
so we wait 20 years and travel hundreds of miles to catch the rare
screening of that Markoupolous film. if that's your passion that's what
you should do. but please, people, stop telling me that your way of
appreciating art is the _only_ correct way. some of us have other visions,
other perspectives, other agendas, which we too may choose to pursue by
any means necessary...

and while i'm ranting, i might note that i can't recall anyone here ever
explaining _why_ we should fetishize the artist's intent. it just get
asserted over and over. it's as if no one here seems to realize that from
new criticism to cultural studies to post-structuralism there have been a
lot of strong arguments againt author-worship (if not against author
existence altogether). in the academy, you generally have to refute your
opponent's argument with some sort of substance, and support your own
position with same. anybody up for trying to theorize obedience to
artistic intent (as if we could always determine what that is exactly
anyway, post-duchamp...)

diatribe out. (that's an American Idol joke, for the pop-cult challenged)

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.