Matters of copyright law seem to be overlooked by universities, though they should be taken at least as seriously as students illegally downloading music, (“Movie airings may be costly,” Page A1, Feb. 8). These laws are now 30 years old, and while it may be understandable if students are unaware of them, that should not be the case with faculty or staff.
The Illinois State University Cinema Society clearly violated copyright law, which Professor White would have to concede if he merely read the relevant sections of the law. This law exists in order to protect the rights-holders to copyrighted material from unauthorized use of works that they've labored hard to create, often incurring significant expense that must be recouped from selling the rights. It is irresponsible of Professor White to defend or encourage his students in their practice, whether intentional or not, of breaking the law.
Unlike with big Hollywood blockbusters, the films our company handles are generally made with less commercial intentions, and rarely go on to become big moneymakers. Ironically, because they are perceived as having more "educational" value than commercial films, we often find ourselves in the position of having to defend our need to charge for the rights to show them when exhibitors argue that their use is "educational."
Those who bemoan the expense of showing these films legally should think about what will happen to the films when filmmakers and distributors find they can't recoup their expenses. In short, they will no longer be available in this country because no distributor will be willing to take on a film that loses money - or they'll simply stop being made.
If the administration and faculty of ISU do not educate their students about copyright law, they are promoting ignorance and abuse of the law, rather than the enlightenment a university is supposed to foster.