Future of Film Hall in Jeopardy; Our Bad

Film Hall’s ability to show films seems to be in some kind of administrative limbo, due to its regular film viewings violating intellectual property laws.

The film distribution company responsible for treasures like Black Snake Moan found the post made on this site advertising the Sept. 12 viewing of said film, and complained to Wesleyan about this apparently illegal event. Which is too bad, because according to the Argus, the University will now require Film Hall to acquire the rights to show films:

“Swank Motion Pictures Incorporated – it’s an enormous distribution company – was apparently scouring the Internet,” [Rose Agger ’10, Film Hall’s house manager] said. “They saw on Wesleying that someone was showing their movie, and I didn’t have any kind of rights.”

The University was fined and Residential Life (ResLife) informed Residential Advisors (RAs) and house managers that they could no longer publicly show films. Tim Shiner, the University’s Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development, is responsible for helping student groups get the rights to movies. He stated that he and the rest of the administration were unaware of Film Hall’s previous activities.

They should not have been publicly showing movies, ever,” Shiner said. “If they have been showing movies for several years, I did not know about it. They never registered their events.”

Administrators such as Shiner did not previously know about the intellectual property violations by student groups because Wesleying is not affiliated with the University.

This is bullshit. How was the administration unaware that a student hall has been screening films for three years, when film viewing has been its express purpose from the beginning? And do they never walk around campus and notice the flyers regularly posted all over the place by student groups, advertising informal film viewings?

Also, how is a showing of a film defined as public? Does it mean that groups can’t advertise to the student body at all, or just not through public media? What if a large group of friends is watching a movie together, and friends of their friends hear about it and show up? Must the necessary licenses be acquired?

Apparently this incident doesn’t bode well for all the other student groups who regularly show films, who are ostensibly now at greater risk of having their Google-able event advertisements on Wesleying seized on by litigious film companies.

It could be difficult for Film Hall to get legal rights to show movies. Shiner said that four or five student groups have legally shown movies this year, but the bulk of those were documentaries, which are usually free to show. Rights for Hollywood films can be extremely expensive, and Film Hall has a limited budget. Shiner and Agger both said that Film Hall would apply to the Student Budgetary Committee (SBC) for more funds to continue its programs legally.

For the moment, Film Hall’s status is unresolved. It will not be screening movies until it can afford to buy legal rights. Consequently, it may not be able to conduct enough programs to remain a program hall.

It’s just a bunch of students in a lounge in the basement of Nic 6 putting on a legally-obtained DVD, without altering or profiting from it in any way. Why is this illegal? Debate on the finer points of intellectual property law aside, this sucks. Sorry Film Hall.

Argus: Copyrights Complicate Film Hall
Argus Editorial: Get with the Program

46 thoughts on “Future of Film Hall in Jeopardy; Our Bad

  1. Anonymous

    it’s how films make money. paritucularly ones that aren’t The Dark Knight or Titanic, you know?

  2. Anonymous

    it’s how films make money. paritucularly ones that aren’t The Dark Knight or Titanic, you know?

  3. Anonymous

    No, the advertising is not the “illegal” part. According to Swank, if it isn’t in a private home, it needs a license. It’s pretty shitty.

  4. Anonymous

    No, the advertising is not the “illegal” part. According to Swank, if it isn’t in a private home, it needs a license. It’s pretty shitty.

  5. Anonymous

    4:19–Events don’t have to be registered to count–program houses are run through ResLife, which is seperate from whatever Tim’s office is called.

  6. Anonymous

    4:19–

    Events don’t have to be registered to count–program houses are run through ResLife, which is seperate from whatever Tim’s office is called.

  7. Anonymous

    whoever is pissed about spending “thousands” of their dollars via the sbc needs to review how the sbc works. You pay 270 dollars to them and that’s what makes up their budget–that means at most, if every single dollar you give them over four years goes to film hall you will be “wasting” only a little more than a thousand. which won’t happen. plus maybe i think you’re lame-ass events are a waste of my money.

  8. Anonymous

    whoever is pissed about spending “thousands” of their dollars via the sbc needs to review how the sbc works. You pay 270 dollars to them and that’s what makes up their budget–that means at most, if every single dollar you give them over four years goes to film hall you will be “wasting” only a little more than a thousand. which won’t happen.

    plus maybe i think you’re lame-ass events are a waste of my money.

  9. Anonymous

    It’s illegal because they are advertising the screening via Wesleying, fliers, whatever.Some groups in similar situations get around this by giving “hints” about what the movie is – but never using the materials of the film. I don’t know how legal that is, but it works.I believe another route would be to make it part of an academic “seminar” in which the film would be used for educational purposes. Though technically I think you’re only supposed to use a segment of the film under Fair Use rules.

  10. Anonymous

    It’s illegal because they are advertising the screening via Wesleying, fliers, whatever.

    Some groups in similar situations get around this by giving “hints” about what the movie is – but never using the materials of the film. I don’t know how legal that is, but it works.

    I believe another route would be to make it part of an academic “seminar” in which the film would be used for educational purposes. Though technically I think you’re only supposed to use a segment of the film under Fair Use rules.

  11. Anonymous

    how is this illegal? why is film hall showing a legally obtained dvd for free any different then me inviting people over to watch a dvd in my living room?

  12. Anonymous

    how is this illegal? why is film hall showing a legally obtained dvd for free any different then me inviting people over to watch a dvd in my living room?

  13. Anonymous

    yeah honestly, saying “we already have a film series” is stupid. there CAN be other outlets for film lovers that aren’t as intense.

  14. Anonymous

    yeah honestly, saying “we already have a film series” is stupid. there CAN be other outlets for film lovers that aren’t as intense.

  15. spazeboy

    Anon 3:44, because Wesleying is hosted on the free blogging platform blogspot, we cannot put a robots.txt on the server.Not as far as I know anyway.

  16. spazeboy

    Anon 3:44, because Wesleying is hosted on the free blogging platform blogspot, we cannot put a robots.txt on the server.

    Not as far as I know anyway.

  17. Anonymous

    If Tim Shiner never knew about the screenings because film hall didn't register the events, then they must have been registering other programs to meet the requirements, right?So why wouldn't it be able to conduct enough programs to remain a program hall? I'm confused.Also, this all sucks, but screenwriting workshops and the like would be sweet. I could see them teaming up with the film co-op too. The film department is amazing, but it's a bit elite/inaccessible unless you're a major. New & creative programs would be awesome.

  18. Anonymous

    If Tim Shiner never knew about the screenings because film hall didn't register the events, then they must have been registering other programs to meet the requirements, right?

    So why wouldn't it be able to conduct enough programs to remain a program hall? I'm confused.

    Also, this all sucks, but screenwriting workshops and the like would be sweet. I could see them teaming up with the film co-op too. The film department is amazing, but it's a bit elite/inaccessible unless you're a major. New & creative programs would be awesome.

  19. Anonymous

    Whatever, this is why we have the film series. In a nice theater, but sadly also why (despite the griping) it has to cost $5. Shits expensive. The film board has been dealing with these expenses and the legal implications of publicity since it began. Film Hall was warned, by the film department, about the implications of their actions at least last year if not earlier. They had this coming. I agree with the earlier poster who said they should do something else, for which there isn’t already a great campus organization, like talking about film or screenwriting or whatever.

  20. Anonymous

    Whatever, this is why we have the film series. In a nice theater, but sadly also why (despite the griping) it has to cost $5. Shits expensive. The film board has been dealing with these expenses and the legal implications of publicity since it began. Film Hall was warned, by the film department, about the implications of their actions at least last year if not earlier. They had this coming. I agree with the earlier poster who said they should do something else, for which there isn’t already a great campus organization, like talking about film or screenwriting or whatever.

  21. Anonymous

    If Tim admitted he knew about them the university would be facing a huge fine and he would probably lose his job among other negative effects to the university. This is a public statement he’s making here, he’s not going to say “The kids gotta watch their movies, chill out”. It’s nice that student activities had turned a blind eye up until this pointAnd yes, keep showing Kung Fu

  22. Anonymous

    If Tim admitted he knew about them the university would be facing a huge fine and he would probably lose his job among other negative effects to the university. This is a public statement he’s making here, he’s not going to say “The kids gotta watch their movies, chill out”. It’s nice that student activities had turned a blind eye up until this point

    And yes, keep showing Kung Fu

  23. Anonymous

    I want to know how much the university was fined for this. And I want to know how much it would have cost to obtain the license. Swank’s website is very uninformative, you have to call them for pricing information. But this pdf graphically details the anal rape you must endure to screen any movie for any number of people, even if you don’t charge admission. This is applied if the movie is show anywhere except a private home.http://www.swank.com/college/pdf/SwankCopyright.pdfThe selling of “licenses” which temporarily make movie screenings legal, and the imposition of fines on those non-compliant persons is uncomfortably close to litigation enterprising as a business model. I think it’s called “racketeering” or some such.Also, “The Argus only reports facts” lolololol.

  24. Anonymous

    I want to know how much the university was fined for this. And I want to know how much it would have cost to obtain the license. Swank’s website is very uninformative, you have to call them for pricing information. But this pdf graphically details the anal rape you must endure to screen any movie for any number of people, even if you don’t charge admission. This is applied if the movie is show anywhere except a private home.

    http://www.swank.com/college/pdf/SwankCopyright.pdf

    The selling of “licenses” which temporarily make movie screenings legal, and the imposition of fines on those non-compliant persons is uncomfortably close to litigation enterprising as a business model. I think it’s called “racketeering” or some such.

    Also, “The Argus only reports facts” lolololol.

  25. Anonymous

    12:45, I do sort of agree with you, since it will literally be thousands of dollars over the year, but I do think that they should get some funding for showing films.They can also screen tv shows that air, since they have cable.

  26. Anonymous

    12:45, I do sort of agree with you, since it will literally be thousands of dollars over the year, but I do think that they should get some funding for showing films.

    They can also screen tv shows that air, since they have cable.

  27. Anonymous

    While I feel really bad for film hall and agree that this situation sucks, I call bullshit on the idea that film hall might not be able to run enough programs to remain a hall. What about screenings of films in the public domain, documentaries which are free (the Argus article mentions these), and student films? Heck, what about film discussions, screenwriting or film making workshops or seminars, film trivia nights, etc? Heck, I’m sure they could even come up with a way to make food related evens count (dinner with famous film foods?).There are plenty of things a film themed hall can do other than screenings, and some of those events might actually be really cool.

  28. Anonymous

    While I feel really bad for film hall and agree that this situation sucks, I call bullshit on the idea that film hall might not be able to run enough programs to remain a hall. What about screenings of films in the public domain, documentaries which are free (the Argus article mentions these), and student films? Heck, what about film discussions, screenwriting or film making workshops or seminars, film trivia nights, etc? Heck, I’m sure they could even come up with a way to make food related evens count (dinner with famous film foods?).

    There are plenty of things a film themed hall can do other than screenings, and some of those events might actually be really cool.

  29. Anonymous

    it’s actually pretty clear that the administration knew all about the illegal screenings and that reslife was helping student groups avoid attracting the notice of distribution companies. they just can’t admit responsibility in a public forum like the argus. this doesn’t isn’t the administration’s fault. it just sucks that a distributor finally noticed us. remember student groups: keep yr activities on the dl.

  30. Anonymous

    it’s actually pretty clear that the administration knew all about the illegal screenings and that reslife was helping student groups avoid attracting the notice of distribution companies. they just can’t admit responsibility in a public forum like the argus. this doesn’t isn’t the administration’s fault. it just sucks that a distributor finally noticed us. remember student groups: keep yr activities on the dl.

  31. Anonymous

    I don’t want to give up thousands of dollars of my money (via the SBC) which should be going to groups like mine so the film hall can get rights for their movies. They’d be irresponsible if they give film hall a penny. We shouldn’t pay for their stupidity, film hall should raise the money on their own if they want to show a movie.

  32. Anonymous

    I don’t want to give up thousands of dollars of my money (via the SBC) which should be going to groups like mine so the film hall can get rights for their movies. They’d be irresponsible if they give film hall a penny. We shouldn’t pay for their stupidity, film hall should raise the money on their own if they want to show a movie.

  33. Mad Joy

    While it's possible that Tim Shiner & the administration *could* have heard about these screenings in the past, I don't think there's evidence enough for finger-pointing. There's also a difference between some hallmates watching a movie on their giant screen & film projector, and hosting a public event that is advertised to the campus. While I agree that this kind of screening *shouldn't* be illegal, it is. I see no need to blame the administration here. I think we're just angry at circumstances and not at anyone in particular [except maybe Swank Motion Pictures Incorporated].

  34. Mad Joy

    While it's possible that Tim Shiner & the administration *could* have heard about these screenings in the past, I don't think there's evidence enough for finger-pointing. There's also a difference between some hallmates watching a movie on their giant screen & film projector, and hosting a public event that is advertised to the campus. While I agree that this kind of screening *shouldn't* be illegal, it is. I see no need to blame the administration here. I think we're just angry at circumstances and not at anyone in particular [except maybe Swank Motion Pictures Incorporated].

  35. Anonymous

    Actually, the Argus article only reports facts and doesn’t include the incriminating paragraph of: This is bullshit. How was the administration unaware that a student hall has been screening films for three years, when film viewing has been its express purpose from the beginning? And do they never walk around campus and notice the flyers regularly posted all over the place by student groups, advertising informal film viewings?

  36. Anonymous

    Actually, the Argus article only reports facts and doesn’t include the incriminating paragraph of:

    This is bullshit. How was the administration unaware that a student hall has been screening films for three years, when film viewing has been its express purpose from the beginning? And do they never walk around campus and notice the flyers regularly posted all over the place by student groups, advertising informal film viewings?

  37. Anonymous

    Uh, they could also easily read the Argus article in which all this information initially appeared. Why don’t you call out the school newspaper for indiscretion?

  38. Anonymous

    Uh, they could also easily read the Argus article in which all this information initially appeared. Why don’t you call out the school newspaper for indiscretion?

  39. Anonymous

    You know this isn’t something I would call the university out on knowing about. The film distribution company apparently knows about Wesleying and could easily read this. The university could get in a lot more trouble then just a fine for this one movie; what about the other three years worth of movies you so nicely pointed out? Think before you post.

  40. Anonymous

    You know this isn’t something I would call the university out on knowing about. The film distribution company apparently knows about Wesleying and could easily read this. The university could get in a lot more trouble then just a fine for this one movie; what about the other three years worth of movies you so nicely pointed out? Think before you post.

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