Re: Jonathan Howell's Feb. 17 letter to the editor, ("ISU educators should know copyright law"): The ISU Cinema Society understands copyright law, and appreciates that it "protect[s] the rights-holders to copyrighted material from unauthorized use of works that they've labored hard to create." We wonder whether New Yorker Films understands the concept of fair use. U.S. Code section 107 permits "the fair use of a copyrighted work … for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching …, scholarship, or research." The ISU Cinema Society made nonprofit educational use of films. If our screenings had any effect on the "potential market for or value of the copyrighted work," it was no doubt to increase it.
New Yorker Films should pursue those who truly violate their filmmakers' copyrights, and leave off harassing students. New Yorker Films never contacted the ISU Cinema Society, and never made any attempt to determine whether their copyright was being infringed upon. Rather, they issued a bill (with numerous errors) directly to Illinois State University's legal counsel. Not once have they suggested that the Cinema Society cooperate with them so as to build an audience for their films.
Howell proposes, ridiculously, that the ISU Cinema Society's screenings somehow endangered New Yorker Films - and perhaps even the future of independent cinema! In reality, New Yorker Films has most likely killed the ISU Cinema Society. Other film groups in town and at other state schools will stop operating, or operate more secretly.
New Yorker Films' actions are self-defeating, cynical and oriented only toward a quick buck.