Friday, June 15, 2007

A Fair(y) Use Tale

When librarians get bored, they watch stuff like this:

It's a wonderfully funny short film entitled A Fair(y) Use Tale put together by Eric Faden, professor of Bucknell University. Using various clips from Disney films, Faden explains some of the intricacies of U.S. copyright law. The last "chapter" explains why he chose to use Disney material to make his point. Very fun and very subversive.

Official Description:
Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University created this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms.



Maktaaq said...

Oooh, my huge pet peeves are both the incomprehensible laws and the public's inability to understand the most clear of the laws.

Despite constant explanations to my staff (they are not museum studies or arts majors, to be fair), they still think copyright only applies to works that have the "c" in a circle symbol.

My big pet peeve with copyright is that I try to be fair and get licenses. Even if the film is shown by an educational organization like mine and we don't charge admission, I have to cough up anywhere from $75 to $240 to show a film. One of my local film licensing agencies doesn't understand why I don't just buy their license, show recent Disney releases, and charge families to see the movies. I explain that we aren't a commercial theatre, that we are a historical museum, and that quite frankly, I think kids these days need to watch a lot more Buster Keaton.

Yet instead of showing kids that Seven Chances or The High Sign (or showing their parents that The General) are some of the best movies ever made, I have to phone everyone in North America to find out who issues licenses for each film (I so wish there were a central agency for this!), and I have to spend large amounts of my small budget to show these. Basically I stopped showing films unless they are from Canada's NFB. (Our National Film Board sells institutional copies of films that I can show as long as I don't charge for the films).

I will probably show this film to my staff next week.

Miss L said...


I completely understand your position, as we've gone through similar issues at my museum. Fortunately, the copyright issue has been grounded into our heads. It's like how our collections staff has been doing a great job of (trying to) teach the rest of us that we can't just give away our photos or document scans to anyone with an interest. People have to go through the correct channels and purchase their use. Same thing for videos. Our previous archivist downloaded a great graphic novelette on fair use and copyright law produced by Duke University. I still see this issue (and ignorance of use) come up on the museum-ed listserv often. That being said, I appreciate how this movie tries to illustrate that there are situations where you CAN use copyrighted materials without needing permission. I just hope they don't get sued!

Miss L

Hebdomeros said...

Ah, movies. Libraries have those problems too. For the most part, we don't buy the performance rights for films. So even if it's a film that we own in the collection, it doesn't mean we can show it at a public event (at least legally). A lot of them are downright expensive, especially for really commercial films.

I know our summer programs budget was pretty much blown by getting performance rights for Howl's Moving Castle and one or two other films. Buster Keaton's actually a great idea. I may have to suggest that.

Maktaaq said...

I can never lose a chance to talk about Buster Keaton. I showed the High Sign recently to a group of 13 kids from 5 to 12 years old, and they insisted on watching 3 times in a row! Yay!

As for Howl's Moving Castle, was this in conjunction with the book? I haven't read it yet, but the movie was, um, intriguing. Hmm, I need to watch it again soon.

Hebdomeros said...

You know, I haven't actually read the book. I liked the's odd, but fun. From what I remember of the reviews when it came out, it differs greatly from the book. I should read it...some day.