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Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


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Old October 19th, 2002, 12:31 PM   #16
Obstreperous Rex
 
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Howdy from Texas,

While there's not very much that can be done to prevent illegal copying, I don't think it's a very big problem if it happens. The biggest threat you have is, if someone copies your work in quantity and tries to sell those copies to a broad market. Then it's a matter of just going after them, assuming you can find out about it in the first place. The law will be on your side, but there'll be significant expense incurred in bringing the case to court. You'll be assured a victory there, but can you make the long haul into court, is the question.

I wouldn't worry about the occasional one or two copies. First, who is really going to go to that trouble? Most people won't. Those that will are very few in number. If your video is properly marketed, and properly distributed, then hopefully you'll be at a point where you won't care about one or two illegal burns which you may never even know about anyway. You'll be in a position where instead you're keeping an eye on the shelves and looking out for copies of your video appearing for sale. That's who you'll want to go after.

For years we did dance recital tapes every summer and I used to worry about some underground network of parents making copies and stealing potential sales. But it never happened... they had more important things to do, and we sold at least one or two tapes to every set of parents at the recital. Hope this helps,
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Old October 21st, 2002, 11:37 AM   #17
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Forget about copy protections for two reasons:
1. they tend to cost a lot of money
2. they will not help one bit

Every available protection (for video/dvd) can be copied
instantly at this moment. It is just not worth the trouble.
If your film is large and good enough most people will
buy it anyway (I buy all the good movies on DVD personally).

Just some thoughts
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Old October 21st, 2002, 05:19 PM   #18
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OK, points well made. I'll skip the physical protection. I wasn't worried about someone re-selling it, just people making extra copies for their friends. You're right though, it probably doesn't matter.

Thanks!
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Old December 9th, 2002, 07:14 PM   #19
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More copyright queries

Okay, just out of curiosity, how many of you who produce your own shorts, on your own (not work for hire or any of that jazz) get them registered with the copyright office before showing them to the world? I'm sending my package off tomorrow, but I don't want to sit and wait half a year to do anything with my movie (they said it takes four-five months to process the submission and send back your certificate.
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Old December 10th, 2002, 07:22 AM   #20
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Josh,

I copyright my SCRIPTS as soon as I am finished with them. I post the copyright notice on the credits and packaging of my films. I've not sent tapes to the copyright office...yet. I HAVE sent tapes of some theatrical shows I produced, as well as the scripts.

The copyright is ESTABLISHED when it is created, it can be ENFORCED when you have the registration. If you are worried it will be copied, you can wait for the registration to release it. But you are already protected before it returns.

AS always, this applies to US laws, check the copyright laws in your country.
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Old December 10th, 2002, 08:55 AM   #21
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Josh,

If you register it with the WGA online for $20...it's covered immediately.

http://www.wga.org/registration/register-online.html
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Old December 10th, 2002, 10:17 AM   #22
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WGAw registration is not US PTO copyright. It is, however, a useful filing that can be used as evidence in court to prove that I have claim as author of the material.

I recently registered a script with WGAw and they sent me a nice little certificate, with little flecks of red and blue in the paper just like dollar bills. I uploaded my script online in TXT format and they charged my credit card $20. The whole process took about a minute and a half. Cheap and easy protection. But, as I understand it, and I am not a lawyer (only the son of two!), what this doesn't afford that US PTO copyright does afford is the ability to seek statutory damages on a per-infraction basis. If Big Fat Production Company makes a million copies of my script and it is registered with the US PTO, then a judge can grant me a certain fixed sum of money for every copy they have made (statutory damages), regardless of any losses I incur as a result of my intellectual property being abused (actual damages). If I prove that the infrigment was intentional, I can claim statutory damages of up to $150,000 if the judge rules in my favor. One web site claims that stautory damage awards are generally $500 to $20,000 per work.

All of this is covered under USC Title 17, Section 504 (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/504.html).

Additionally, US PTO copyright is recognized by international law (WIPO, Berne Convention, Geneva Convention, etc.), and so can stand for copyright in a number of places around the world.

For aspiring industry screenwriters, it is not useful to place "do not copy" warnings all over scripts submitted to Hollywood. Producers and production companies will be making copies, and if the script is any good this is exactly what you want to have happen, because the more your script gets passed around, the better potential it has for getting read by the right people, generating buzz, and landing you That Big Break.

Also note that WGAw registration must be renewed every five years. If the WGAw file vault burns down or their server crashes, they only owe you $10 for the destruction of your manuscript, which is its declared value as decided by them.
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Old December 10th, 2002, 01:08 PM   #23
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Sounds like a good idea. I will do this as well as sending out my stuff to the US PTO
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Old December 11th, 2002, 12:46 PM   #24
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copyright for dummies

We seem to have loads of copyright questions. Does anyone know of a website that explains video and music copyright law in layman's terms?
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Old December 11th, 2002, 01:57 PM   #25
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Dylan,

Well the copyright website answers most questions. And I saw in the store yesterday, a "Copyright for dummies" computer program. Seriously.

But if it were all cut and dried, plain and simple... My wife would be out of work.
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Old December 12th, 2002, 07:33 AM   #26
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And ofcourse it is different for each country (and even state) not
to mention international law....
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Old December 14th, 2002, 03:18 PM   #27
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Copyright Update

Serendipity folks,

Just got my Jan issue of Videomaker Magazine. Great article on Copyright that covers most of the latest topics on this forum. Even includes some sample releases.

Other good articles too... worth the trip to the bookstore if you don't subscribe

Bill
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Old December 17th, 2002, 12:25 AM   #28
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Copyright Legalities

THE LATEST ( JANUARY 2003) ISSUE OF COMPUTER VIDEOMAKER MAGAZINE, HAS A PRETTY COMPRHENSIVE YET BACIC ARTICLE ON COPYRIGHT LAW. IT STARTS ON PAGE 69 ( 4 PAGES LONG ).


SECOND GOOD ARTICLE IN THE SAME ISSUE IS ON THE FONTS FOR CGs, page 87.

Bruce
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Old January 8th, 2003, 07:16 AM   #29
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A word of caution: whether the result of poor editing or simple errors there are a couple of major problems with the article. I'll write more on this later, but know this:

1. ASCAP and BMI _only_ handle public performance licenses. It doesn't matter whether the DJ, the band or the reception hall has gotten a license from either of these entities. These licenses do NOT permit recording the music played in a video. Incidental recording law is rather obscure and based on fair use concepts. The short version is: incidental recording, i.e. music playing in the background while you're shooting, _probably_ doesn't violate copyright if it is done in connection with legitimate news coverage, and/or if only short excerpts are used. If you use entire songs, or tape for commercial purposes, it probably DOES violate copyright. I am not prepared, at this time and in this forum, to say whether wedding videography that includes music played by the band or DJ would or would not be considered incidental fair use -- there are simply too many variables.

The author of the Computer Videomaker article implies that a BMI or ASCAP license will protect the videographer. He is _wrong_.

2. The article seems to conclude that it might not be worth the trouble to obtain the necessary licenses. This is an extremely DANGEROUS idea. Copyright infringement liability is _strict_ liability, meaning that it is no defense to say, "Gee, I thought it was okay." Infringement liability can include statutory damages as high as $250,000 for each act of infringement, i.e. each separate song recorded may result in a maximum of $250,000 in penalties -- 10 songs = $2,500,000.

Should you risk it? That's a business decision, not a legal one. However, don't assume that, just because you're doing relatively small-time wedding videography, that copyright owners won't sue you. Copyright is a use-it-or-lose it proposition -- failure to enforce a copyright may result in de facto dedication to the public domain, i.e. even though you're a small fish with no money, you still may be get sued. Andrew Lloyd Weber sued a high school in New Jersey for staging an unauthorized production of "Jesus Christ Superstar." The leader of a church choir was sued for infringement when he made 20 copies of a copyright-protected hymn. I routinely sue small businesses for my clients (though for trademark infringement, rarely for copyright) because my client has made the _business decision_ that it is necessary to send a message to potential infringers that they will aggressively defend their intellectual property rights.

You very well may decide that the risk of a law suit is small, and you may even be right. However, the potential for liability is so enormous (just defending a suit can cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) that you should not make this decision based on a poorly-edited article published in an amateur video magazine. Talk to a competent IP lawyer in your area -- a consultation will cost from relatively little to absolutely nothing. Talk to your business insurance provider (you DO have general liability insurance, don't you?) and find out the scope of advertising injury coverage (which can, in some jurisidictions, cover copyright infringement lawsuits).
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Old January 8th, 2003, 07:57 AM   #30
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In the US, copyright law is federal law. There is no state or common law copyright. Accordingly, the same law applies throughout all 50 states and US territories and possessions. It may, however, be accorded constructions which differ between circuits, e.g. the 2nd Circuit test for infringement is slightly different from that used by the 9th Circuit.

US law was harmonized with the international Berne Convention in 1979. Accordingly, much of what can be said about foreign law applies in the US as well, all though the converse is not necessarily true. A notable exception is the area of "moral rights," those rights an author has in legitimately-acquired copies of his works. Many countries recognize moral rights; the US does not.
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